Amalek is the blacksmith to whom Daniel had been sold for a period of ten years. Amalek may be fairly well-to-do because he has at least two indentured servants working for him, Daniel and Simon. Although Amalek has had some financial success in life, he dies without “a relative to his name, nor friend either.”
Daniel bar Jamin
Eighteen-year-old Daniel has escaped slavery by living in the hills above Galilee. When Daniel meets Joel and Thacia, it has been five years since he has seen anyone from his hometown. He has been estranged even from the sole survivors of his family—his grandmother and his younger sister, Leah.
Throughout most of the novel, Daniel is motivated solely by his consuming hatred for the Romans who have killed his father and his uncle. He also blames the Romans for his mother’s death from exposure and grief, for his own enslavement, for his sister’s madness, and for the eventual death of his grandmother. Daniel’s hate is so strong that he makes a solemn vow to God to avenge his parents and to work toward freeing Israel from Roman occupation for as long as he lives.
When Daniel meets Rosh, the rebel insurgent leader, he thinks he finds a kindred spirit. He wants to believe that Rosh is the leader for whom the Jews have been waiting, the promised Messiah who will come to liberate the people of Israel from their captivity.
Daniel enlists the help of Joel and Thacia in his fight for freedom, but he continues to be motivated by hatred. Gradually, however, he hears a different message from Jesus. The words and actions of this decidedly unorthodox preacher begin to affect Daniel’s heart. He sees Jesus feed the hungry, heal the sick, and minister to the soul. Daniel begins to compare the characteristics of Jesus as a leader to those of Rosh’s alleged leadership.
When Joel is imprisoned because of actions directed by Rosh, and Rosh steadfastly refuses to intervene, Daniel makes the final break with the false leader. As Daniel grieves the loss of his friends Samson and Nathan, he remembers Jesus’ words of caution: “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”
After Jesus brings Leah back from the brink of death, Daniel is ready to make a leap of faith and follow the true Messiah. By the end of the novel, he learns that “only love can bend the bow of bronze.”
Ebol is the young sentry who works as lookout for Rosh. He is not largely drawn but still wields a bit of passive-aggressive power. In chapter 10, Ebol waits three days before giving Daniel the message that Daniel’s grandmother is dying. In Rosh’s world where there is little room for personal expression, Ebol may be trying to wrest some power of his own. His actions are indicative of the self-serving attitude that pervades the camp.
Daniel and Leah’s grandmother takes in the children after their parents die. Little more than a peasant herself, the grandmother cannot provide for her growing grandchildren, so she feels that she must sell Daniel to the local blacksmith, Amalek, in order to survive. Her story is quite pitiable. To support even Leah, each day the grandmother follows along behind the threshers and collects the grain that they leave behind.
Despite her financial hardships, however, it is clear that their grandmother loves both of her grandchildren. When she is dying, she asks for Daniel to come home and hangs on long enough to see him one more time.
Jesus of Nazareth
The unlikely preacher who may be the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus exemplifies the power of love. He offers his message of tolerance and kindness to men, women, and children alike. It also does not matter to Jesus if the people who come to hear his message are Jews or not. Most people, Daniel included, are horrified that he would offer the kingdom of heaven to non-Jews, and the people are further startled that women receive not only his blessing but his attention as well. Not even children are excluded from his personal connection and love. He listens to them “as if they have something to say.” Jesus preaches that love is not just the way to redemption, but it is the only way into God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ model of leadership is contrasted throughout the novel with Rosh’s. Unlike the rebel leader, Jesus always acts selflessly. He tends to the...
(The entire section is 1830 words.)
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