Writing On A Wax Tablet


A wax tablet is a wooden frame covered with a layer of wax. It was used as a portable writing surface from Antiquity throughout the Middle Ages. A pointed instrument, a stylus, was used to mark the wax surface, and the opposite end was used as an eraser. The expression “a clean slate,” meaning a fresh start, comes from the practice of erasing the surface of the tablet.


On the first page of THE DEADLIEST HATE, we learn that a courier delivered a double-leaved wax tablet meant for Miriam:


The corners of Phoebe’s lips trembled as she handed me the wood-framed tablet. She’d been cradling it in her arms as if she were carrying a baby.


“Miriam, the jewelers’ courier just delivered this letter for you. It’s from a goldsmith’s shop in Caesarea.”


As soon as she said Caesarea, I knew the letter had to be from Judah. He’d sailed to Caesarea last September to find his half-brother Eran. Judah learned he had a half-brother only two years ago, when his mentor confessed on his deathbed to also being Judah’s father.


When I touched the tablets, it was as if I could feel the heat where Judah’s hands had been, a sensation that triggered that dormant but familiar longing that was both pleasure and pain.


No doubt you too have waited with longing for a letter. For Miriam , it came to mean a voyage to Caesarea where she became the target of a deranged assassin. But don’t worry. You will not have to risk your own life by reading THE DEADLIEST HATE, though I admit your own life will seem to disappear when she confronts that assassin. Just click here.

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