The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith


By Leigh DeLozier @cleanfictionre1 

From “favorite son” Joseph to sullen Judah and their well-meaning father Jacob, step into the lives of a familiar Old Testament family and see them in new ways.

Back cover copy: Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.

My review: If you’re like me and grew up hearing the stories about Joseph in the Old Testament – how he was the favored son, was given a coat of many colors, and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers – you might think The Prince and the Prodigal would be a basic Bible story retelling. The book does cover all of that, but also includes so much more. 

I’ve never thought much about the rest of Joseph’s family or how they might have felt through all the events recorded in the Old Testament. The Prince and the Prodigal takes us there, into the lives and minds of several of Joseph’s family members: his father Jacob, sister Dinah, brothers Judah and Reuben, wife Asenath.

As one example: In The Prince and the Prodigal, Jacob asked Dinah to make the coat (or cloak) of many colors as a surprise gift for Joseph. The request made her uncomfortable because she knew that such an extravagant gift would embarrass Joseph and enrage his brothers. But she colored the wool, spun it into thread, and wove it into the garment because she loved and respected her father too much to disobey. Had I ever thought about who made the coat or how they might have felt about the task? Not at all. 

That’s one thing I love about Jill’s books: she takes Biblical people or stories I think I know and gives them layers that make them even more real. And I learn things every time. 

Faith element: Faith is a strong story element in The Prince and the Prodigal, as you would expect in Biblical fiction. These range from brief references to encounters that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had with God to prayers spoken by different characters and Joseph’s attempts to share about God with the people who are close to him in Egypt. It all felt natural to the story instead of forced or contrived, which is something I appreciate as a reader. 

Who should read it: The Prince and the Prodigal is a great read for any fans of Biblical fiction, teens through adults. There are some references to traditions in other cultures that might bother younger readers, although it’s handled well and doesn’t get too graphic. If you’ve not read any of her other books, she has a substantial backlist focusing on many familiar people from the Old Testament. I’ve read most of them over the years and always enjoy her storytelling.

Book details: The Prince and the Prodigal

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Genre: Biblical fiction

Publisher: Revell

Publish date: February 2022


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