To Dwell among Cedars (The Covenant House)

Written by Connilyn Cossette
Review by J. Lynn Else

Arisa and Lukio are fleeing from Ashdod and an uncle about to sell Arisa to the temple. Through the sacrifice of a Hebrew slave who taught them the stories of her people, Arisa and Lukio follow the “magic box” that’s wrought havoc on their community. Since capturing it from the Hebrews, the box has brought plague and death to the Philistine cities possessing it. The siblings follow it as it enters Hebrew lands. After being discovered by Levites, they are lovingly adopted into a family who vow to keep the box, known as the Ark of the Covenant, safe until God makes clear where it should be kept. Some priests, however, believe the ark should be restored to Shiloh and make plans to steal it during the next Levitical festival no matter the cost.

The book dives into a period Scripture says little about, between 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Arisa grapples with her past and what her people have done. She fears losing the love of her adoptive family and throws herself into serving others. Her brother, however, doesn’t want to forget his Philistine heritage and is bitter living among Hebrews. Ronen is a priest tasked with gathering information about the ark’s whereabouts, but the kindness and faith of Arisa’s family calls into to question Ronen’s own family’s motivations for stealing the Holy of Holies. For these three characters, love and loyalty are put to the test in heart-wrenching ways. The story is unhurried as characters grapple with themes of faith and acceptance despite how one looks or where a person comes from. Cossette’s ability to bring Biblical times and its rich cultures authentically to life is, in a word, glorious. This is a beautiful exploration of the ancient past that will resonate with modern readers.