Book Details

The Fire in the Rock: A Novel of the Exodus

The Fire in the Rock is the story of the Exodus from Egypt, as told by Tzipporah, the widow of Moses -- the last eyewitness.  She tells of her childhood and youth in the land of Midyan, living at the foot of the Mountain of God; and she tells us of Moses, her husband and the father of her children.  Moses -- whose birth name was not Moses -- was Prophet and Lawgiver, but we learn that he was much more; he was Tzipporah's husband and lover and the father of her children.  She tells of their dramatic meeting, their courtship and wedding, and of the extraordinary events that followed.  We learn that Moses was in many ways an ordinary man; a profoundly humble, and troubled, man, who had at last found peace in the desert with Tzipporah and their sons.  But, after a transcendent experience on the Mountain before the Fire of God -- and because of his many and uniquely varied experiences -- Moses found himself able to seize an opportunity to free his people, and compelled, almost against his will, to become the Lawgiver.  We learn, too, of Tzipporah's own astonishing part in these world-changing events.

This is not a book of 'signs and wonders'; I write of Moses and Tzipporah as real people with a real, human relationship. Indeed, the book has been described (by Kirkus Reviews) as 'a powerful, focused love story that may perhaps be more appealing to seekers than believers'; As for the 'religious' aspect -- Moses himself is filled with uncertainty and doubt till the end of his life. The central inspiration of the book was, in fact, this simple question, 'What if Moses were just an ordinary man?'

Author Details

Charles Henderson Norman
I was raised in a conservative Christian home, but later became a student of Eastern thought and religion; I eventually became a Christian minister, trained by world-class Biblical scholars in a notably liberal seminary. At the age of fifty, after more years of study and thought, I converted to the modern Jewish religion, and my studies continued. My beliefs and ideas have gone on evolving, and now I consider myself a devoted Jew, if an obscurely agnostic one (which is not uncommon among modern Jews). Any attempts to categorize or pigeonhole my beliefs or my ideas and perspectives are doomed to failure; I stopped trying to classify my evolving approach and understanding of my religious belief myself, some years ago. I believe in this book. It is my life's work, and the product of a lifetime of study and thought from many different perspectives. I may not live to see my book find its audience and its place; but I know in my heart that one day it will. Its message is at once deeply humanistic and deeply reverent, taking both rational thought and the religious impulse seriously while denigrating neither. It is a product of both my heart and my mind, and though I hold no dogmatic "beliefs" in the conventional sense, I believe that my book communicates some worthwhile principles, thoughts and ideas -- among them the deeply Jewish conviction that nothing -- no belief, no practice, no tradition -- is more important or holier than the life, freedom and dignity of the individual human being. All the rest is secondary, and our task is to bear that highest value in mind and heart while using both to pursue these three -- Truth, Justice, and Peace. All that was true for the man we call Moses more than three thousand years ago, and it remains true for us today.