Daniel had run away to escape a life of servitude. He had been bound to the blacksmith Amalek, who was know for his harsh treatment of the boys in his service. Daniel has been living in the hills for "five years, about", and has not returned to the village because he knows if he does, he'd "just get dragged back to Amalek's shop".
Daniel ran away to the hills because he "knew there were caves up (there)". He wanted a place to hide where Amalek could not find him. He couldn't find the caves, however, and had been wandering about the hills for three days, cold, hungry, and "his back still raw from the last flogging" at the hands of his cruel master, when he had been found by Rosh, leader of a rebel band. Rosh had taken Daniel in and taken care of him, and Daniel has lived with the band ever since, becoming an ardent and valuable participant in Rosh's revolt against the Romans (Chapter 1).