The book The Sign Above the Door by William W. Canfield discusses the historical significance of the feast of Passover in Judaism. It is also important in Christianity because it is a prominent story in the Old Testament. The book was originally published in 1912 by the Jewish Publication Society of America. The story involves the historical aspect of the first Passover that took place in Ancient Egypt. Passover refers to the Biblical story in which the Angel of Death passed over the Jewish homes. Homes that were not Jewish lost the first born child. The Angel of Death knew to pass over the Jewish homes because they were marked above the door with lamb’s blood. This was done as part of the plagues in Egypt. The plagues were God’s way of telling the Pharaoh that he needed to free His people from bondage. The Hebrews were slaves in the land of Egypt.
The story follows a young prince in Egypt. The prince, Martiesen, is placed in charge of the Hebrews in Goshen by the Pharaoh. Goshen was a prominent settlement of Hebrew slaves in Ancient Egypt. At this point, Egypt has already suffered a series of plagues that have wreaked havoc throughout the land. The area was a wonderful place before the plagues. There was an established water supply, which was quite important in the arid lands of Egypt. An adequate water supply and excellent irrigation system ensured prosperous crops for the pharaoh, Ramses II. However, the Hebrews desired their freedom after years of servitude to the pharaoh. Furthermore, the Pharaoh refused to grant them any time to rest; he would not allow their number of bricks required each day to drop.
A savior appeared for the Hebrews. Moses was a Hebrew by birth who had been raised as a prince of Egypt. When he recognized his true identity and birthright, he began to demand that the Hebrews be set free. Using the will of God, he commanded a series of plagues, known now as Biblical plagues, to descend upon the land of Egypt. However, the Pharaoh was not moved by this plagues. Rather, the Pharaoh and his advisors denied that they were the work of God. It was claimed that Moses “having taken advantage of a series of natural calamities, loudly prates that they are the work of a God whom he has conjured up and who is without a form or a temple” (Canfield 37).
Martiesen is also in love with a Hebrew woman. Of course, this is not allowed in Egypt. She is kidnapped by Peshala, the Libyan, who offers her wealth and luxury. She refuses it, arguing that she would never turn her back on her people. The darkness of Passover descends upon the land. Peshala believes that the Hebrew god is stronger than the Egyptian gods. However, he believes the Libyan god is still stronger. Elishaba eventually escapes and returns to her people. It is a harrowing story of her escape. She rowed at one point with tremendous strength suitable for a slave. Upon her return home, her family rejoices at her safe return. She learns from her father that the slaves are set to leave Egypt. However, she understands that they have never cared for themselves and need assistance. She begins to teach them. She also tells Martiesen that she must go with her people. She tells him that she loves him. Because of her love for him, she does not want to see him lose his power and position in Egyptian society. Martiesen states that he has learned that the love of a woman is the most important aspect of life.
The Hebrews flee Egypt in the famous Exodus account. Martiesen gave his beloved his standard, which is essentially a flag for her to carry. He did this so he would be able to find her after she left. However, the Egyptians are not going to let the Hebrews leave so easily. The Hebrews represented a significant amount of wealth to the Egyptians. They follow them. As Martiesen also leaves, he is careful to avoid them. At the end of the novel, Martiesen and Elishaba are together. They love each other tremendously and rejoice in their love.