For Girls and the Women who Love Them
The name Johanna means “God is Gracious.” The ancient Hebrew form of that name is “Yohannanen.” I used the modern form for most of the names in this story because they are easier to say and remember.
Nine year old Johanna loves to run and play with her friends using her imagination for hours playing outdoors amidst rocks, trees, and the ruins of a great house.
She also likes to compete with board games such as senet, chess, and mancala. She has a crush on a certain boy but keeps it a secret. Justice and fairness are important to her. She knows the sting of being picked on and readily sticks up for others.
It angers her that her dear father has to spend his days making bricks because the pharaoh made her people his slaves. She hates slavery!
Her best friend is a servant girl two years older, but the age difference doesn’t matter. The girls grow to be close friends as they each share their worlds with each other. For three years they make wonderful memories and have true adventures. Then, at age twelve, Johanna’s world changes when her people are set free!
“Kenyeh” is a shortened form of the Ethiopian name “Enkenyelesh.”I chose it to honor a young girl I supported through Compassion International. In this story, Kenyeh is the daughter of an Ethiopian (African) mother and a Midianite (Arabic) father. She grows up on the estate of a great Egyptian nobleman where she lives amidst beauty and abundance.
A fast runner and fierce competitor, Kenyeh loves visiting Goshen where Johanna and her Israelite people live. She loves playing with all the children and her laughter and dramatics are a joy to all. Johanna becomes like a sister to this only child. Kenyeh’s family grows in interest and faith in the God of the Israelites—the LORD. In fact, their lives make great changes from the lifestyle of the people around them because of their new faith.
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Egypt in 1440 B.C.
Egypt was the greatest nation in the world at this time. It was called the “navel of the world.” The navel is located right in the center of the body between the upper and lower halves. People viewed Egypt as being the center of the world in those days because all the power and wealth were there. Other countries had to send caravans of tribute to the pharaoh.
Everyone must have wanted to visit Egypt to see all the magnificent buildings with their splendor. The noble class women wore fine jewels and headpieces. The pharaoh wore a collar of gold. Artisans made fine glass and carved intricate designs. There were many things to dazzle the eyes.
It was said that even the poorest people in Egypt enjoyed a lifestyle similar to what the wealthiest people in other nations had, and that they probably ate better than most of the rest of the world. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables, bread, and fish for all. People paid taxes with produce from their farms or gardens. Even families in slavery ate well and had gardens of their own and access to fish and meat.
The Egyptians worshipped hundreds of gods and goddesses. They had gods for protection, for childbirth, for rain, wisdom, war, battle, and on and on. The gods changed over the years as different pharaohs were in power. Some pharaohs even claimed to be part god themselves.
Worship of these gods and goddesses led to making idols to represent them and also temples where worship took place. All too often, wrong, debased things occurred in that worship.
But there was one group of people who were different from the Egyptians—the Israelites. They had been shepherds, a vocation the Egyptians looked down upon. Eventually, the Israelite men were forced to labor for the pharaoh making clay bricks and helping build his treasure houses. However, this was not the chief thing that brought disdain from the Egyptians towards the Hebrews, or Israelites. The chief objection was that the Hebrews worshipped only one God—the LORD. They were viewed as strange. They weren’t really a part of that culture. They were Johanna’s people.
Join others in reading about Johanna’s journey. You may find that it is much like your own.
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The Purpose of this Series
This first book, Johanna’s Journey: Call to Freedom, is based on the events of Exodus 1-19. For the girl already knowledgeable about the Exodus account, this series will put her in the setting of ancient Israel and how life might have been for girls her age. She will learn about cooking, tent-life, what girls did for fun, what similar challenges they faced, and much more. Hopefully, she will come away with a new appreciation for the exodus and the stories around it, the Passover, and also for the nation of Israel and Jews today.
For the new Christian, this series will introduce her to the Israelites and why they are significant to Christians today. She will learn basic details taught in Genesis—the fall, the flood, and how God first revealed Himself to Abraham and chose his people to be a light to the world (this is detailed in book two—Johanna’s Journey: In the Shadow of the Mountain). The reader will be shown how the sacrifices and feasts pointed to Christ.
For both groups of girls, this series will help them to ponder what kind of mate they want one day, what kind of home they would like to have, and how they must prepare to think differently from the world system and avoid succumbing to its allure and pressures. Most importantly, the goal of this series will be for each girl to know that she personally is seen and loved by the most high God, and that He has a hope and a plan for her future.
Fact Versus Fiction
Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is alive and powerful to those who know Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 2:14 “But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can’t understand us at all. How could they? For, ‘Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give him counsel?’ But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”
Every effort was made to tell this Exodus story in accordance with the Scripture. In addition, careful research from many websites and books provided hours of enjoyment and inspiration to me, the author. One resource I especially enjoyed is the writings of Josephus, a Roman era Jew who recorded the oral tradition handed down through the generations among his people. Considered to be a credible source by historians, his writing added colorful insights such as in chapter eleven when Grandfather discusses Moses and the ways God prepared him for his role as deliverer. Josephus tells of the oral tradition that Moses once led a war against Ethiopia and was the victor. (This could explain his having married an Ethiopian woman about whom Miriam and Aaron later complained as recorded in Numbers, chapter twelve.) But note that I said, “SOME SAY he was called the “Conqueror of Ethiopia.”
At this time in history, “Ethiopia” actually referred to the region known today as Sudan. Modern day Ethiopia is below and to the right of it. The knowledge of the LORD clearly traveled down through Sudan into this area of Africa for there has, for centuries, been a large population of Ethiopians Jews. In fact, in one region they once claimed to house the Ark of the Covenant in a guarded building. Sadly, most of them today have fled the country for refuge in Israel due to persecution.
My letter to the readers in the beginning of the book tells about Johanna and Kenyeh being fictional characters who represent girls who lived during the time of the Exodus.
My prayer is that readers will come away with an appreciation for the many lessons the Exodus story teaches, and that they will see the LORD’s love and his willingness to give second chances. That should encourage our hearts today as we travel our journeys through life