Elizabeth George Speare's The Bronze Bow takes place in Galilee, Israel, during the time of Jesus. Eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin has endured a life of unbelievable hardships. At the tender age of eight, Daniel witnesses his father’s and uncle’s crucifixion by Roman soldiers. His mother also dies shortly thereafter. Daniel’s younger sister, Leah, is so traumatized by their deaths that she appears to lose her mind. Daniel’s grandmother, poor and elderly, is unable to support the children, so she is forced to sell Daniel to the town’s blacksmith, Amalek.
Daniel works for Amalek for five years but then escapes. He flees to the hills above Galilee and becomes a member of a rebel group led by the zealot Rosh. Rosh despises the Romans who occupy Israel. It is his mission to drive them all from the land.
Daniel too is consumed by hatred of the Romans. He makes it his mission to kill as many as he can in order to avenge his parents’ deaths and to pay them back for the havoc they have wreaked on his country.
The longer he spends with Rosh, the more Daniel’s hatred grows. But he begins to hear about a man who has a different message, a message of love and tolerance. However, Daniel faces a long battle before he can give up his vow of hatred. He even puts his friends as well as his sister in danger. It seems that he will destroy them all in his single-minded pursuit for justice, but gradually, the words and actions of Jesus help Daniel understand that only love has the strength to “bend the bow of bronze.”