Monday, March 28, 2011


You don't have to be a Bible scholar to enjoy "In God's Shadow" (Yarden Books, $19.99) by Lansing author Douglas Gershon Moffat.

The self-published debut novel focuses on 12-year-old B'tzalel, a young boy in Egypt who faces a wide variety of challenges.

It's an unusual coming-of-age novel, retelling the story of Exodus by offering viewpoints of an ordinary group of participants. It follows the Israelites as they leave Egypt after a deadly and overwhelming series of massive plagues and disasters.

Their journey is a difficult one; young B'tzalel, his parents and grandparents, his two sisters and their pet cat join thousands in leaving the servitude of the pharaohs.

B'tzalel had been living a relatively quiet life, apprenticing as a goldsmith since he was 6, working with his father and grandfather.

The youth hates to leave his village and wonders what the Big God has in store. He's not quite sure what to think about Moses, whose leadership raises an assortment of unanswered questions.

Those who are familiar with Exodus in the Bible are likely to be aware of young B'tzalel's important role. Moffat's novel explores his background and how he was able to complete a very important task.

While aimed at a young adult market, adults may enjoy this atmospheric, well-researched novel. Moffat and his son Michael even spent time on camels in the Sinai desert, gaining a more realistic perspective.

Moffat, who has published four other scholarly non-fiction books, is a development officer for MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information, visit

 Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on March 27 2011.

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