Women’s lives in Ancient Israel by Stephanie Landsem + Giveaway of The Thief

Today on the blog I am proud to be hosting Stephanie Landsem who is currently on Blog Tour with Book Junkie Promotions for her latest Christian Historical Fiction release, The Thief!

Women’s lives in Ancient Israel

If you’re like me, you read historical fiction to be transported into another time and place—to live for a few hours in someone else’s world. In The Living water series, I write about the lives of women in first century Israel. My hope is to immerse my readers in the lives of my characters—women who lived 2,000 years ago in a land halfway around the world.

So what was it like to be a woman in first century Israel? Here are a few ways that their lives were different from our own.

  • The ultimate goal of every Jewish girl was to marry and have children, preferably plenty of sons.
  •  Jewish girls were betrothed early—usually by the time they were 13. They usually had little choice in whom they wed, unless their father was a particularly loving and considerate one. Marriage was for security and family, love was only an afterthought.
  • A Jewish father had all legal rights over his daughter from the moment she was born until she was wed. From then on, she was the responsibility and—in many practical ways—the property of her husband.
  • A woman’s day was spent gardening and cooking food for her family, spinning, weaving and sewing clothes, and caring for her home and children.
  • Jewish girls and women didn’t speak to men outside the confines of their own homes. No men—not even their fathers, brothers, or husbands!
  • Jewish women were obedient. They did what their fathers and husbands asked without question. To shame your family by disobedience was the ultimate sin.
  • In return for her hard work and obedience, a Jewish woman was cared for and protected by the men in her family.

It was a life very different from our lives today, isn’t it? But what happens to a young woman who doesn’t have a man to protect her? What if a girl is plain, disobedient, and can’t cook or sew—a girl who has no hope for marriage?

Nissa—one of my favorite characters in The Living Water Series—faces just those questions. In The Thief, Nissa has fallen outside of the strict confines of a typical woman’s life. She has no father to watch over her, no husband, and a blind brother who needs her. It is up to her to provide for herself and her brother in a society that gives women almost no choices.

What can a young woman in the teeming city of Jerusalem do to keep herself and her brother from starvation and perhaps even find happiness? Get to know Nissa and be transported into her world in The Thief. I hope you like her as much as I do!

02_The Thief 

Publication Date: February 25, 2014 | Publisher: Howard Books | Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: The Living Water (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.
When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?

Praise for The Thief

"Nissa’s tough demeanor as a cover for her fear and and Longinus’ desire to live a life of peace in his mother’s homeland of Gaul are achingly believable. Both characters are truly lost souls brought together by Jesus’ act of mercy. Their discover, through Him, that mercy is the true power that leads to peace is a reassurance Christian readers can appreciate." —Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars
"To read The Thief is to be completely transported to another time and place. Landsem’s impeccably researched novel moves at breakneck speed toward a climax that doesn’t disappoint." —Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea (Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea)
"Powerful and moving, Landsem grabs hold of the soul and never lets go. As compelling a portrait of mercy as I have ever read. Don't miss this one!" —Siri Mitchell, author of The Messenger (Siri Mitchell, author of The Messenger)

“Filled with memorable characters, The Thief is a tale of hopelessness turned to hope, of high stakes made higher, and ultimate love. What happens when a character at the lowest rung of society crosses paths with the most well-known figure in history? The story of The Thief. I couldn't stop reading.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot (Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot)

“WOW! LOVE IT!!! I started reading on my way home from a conference and was so engrossed in the book I almost missed the flight! The Thief stole my heart and lifted my spirit. Masterfully told, this story of a Roman centurion and a Jewish girl explores familiar New Testament passages but plumbs new spiritual depths. A powerful message of faith and hope intersecting at the foot of the cross.” —Mesu Andrews, author of In a Broken Vessel (Mesu Andrews, author of In a Broken Vessel)
“You know the feeling you get looking at a mountain sunset, listening to sacred music while James Earl Jones reads the Sermon on the Mount? The Thief captures that emotion in an unforgettable story of desperation and beauty.” —Regina Jennings, author of Caught in the Middle and Sixty Acres and a Bride (Regina Jennings, author of Caught in the Middle and Sixty Acres and a Bride)

“A compelling story and vivid characters immediately come off the page and into your heart as Stephanie Landsem brings ancient Jerusalem to life in her enthralling second novel, The Thief. As you run through the streets with the little thief, Mouse, or dip in the Pool of Siloam with the secretive Nissa, a masterful tale full of adventure, heartbreak, and hope unfolds. A must-read for anyone who loves a good book they simply can’t put down.” —Laura Sobiech, author of Fly a Little Higher (Laura Sobiech, author of Fly a Little Higher)

Buy the Book

About the Author

Stephanie-Landsem-106-199x300Stephanie writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s backpacked through Germany and Eastern Europe, studied in Salzburg, enjoyed gelato in Italy, rode a camel in Morocco, and floated in the salty Corinthian Sea. Her favorite cities are Rome, Berlin and Budapest. Her travels kindle her imagination, fuel her love of history and foreign culture, and introduce her to one-of-a-kind characters.
Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about her next adventure - whether it be in person or on the page.

The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

Author Links

The Thief Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 1
Review at Closed the Cover

Tuesday, September 2
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, September 4
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Spotlight at She is Too Fond of Books

Monday, September 8
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Review at Historical Novel Review & Great Historicals

Tuesday, September 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 10
Interview & Giveaway at The Overweight Bookshelf

Thursday, September 11
Review at What Are You Reading?
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, September 12
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli


To win a copy of The Thief please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 19th.

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  1. A captivating and memorable novel which interests me greatly. Many thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I love both these books. I can not imagine what it must have been like to be a girl in First Century Israel.


  3. thanks for the giveaway. i love Ancient Israel and histfic. Emma ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  4. Considering the time period, this sounds like a fascinating read! alto1jr @ hotmail dot com

  5. This sounds so interesting, makes me think of Ben-Hur and The Robe which I read years and years ago. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. This book sounds extremely interesting, and I'd love to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  7. Fascinated with what life for a jewish woman was like.

  8. This would be quite a different read for me, thanks.

  9. Always interested in historical novels set in Jerusalem, especially with a Jewish heroine.

  10. I enjoyed this fascinating post and would love to win a copy of The Thief!

  11. Would love to read this one ! Very interesting story...


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