Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis

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Joel is reading aloud to Daniel and Malthace. The verses from the Book of Enoch promise freedom and vengeance.

But Daniel is tired of waiting for freedom to come to Galilee. Joel, too, is tired of waiting. He wonders if Rosh might be the one who will deliver the Jews from Roman oppression. Daniel is sure, but Malthace is not. She insists that God would not choose an “outlaw” to free the Jews.

Daniel then tells them the gruesome details of his childhood trauma: the Romans killed both his father and his mother.

When Daniel was eight, his uncle and aunt were expecting the birth of their first child. His uncle decided to buy his wife a new shawl with money he had saved to pay his taxes. The tax collectors, however, arrived early, and his uncle was arrested and sentenced to a short life of hard labor in the quarries.

Daniel’s father and some friends planned to free Daniel’s uncle as the Roman troops led their prisoners to the quarries. The attack failed, and all the men were captured. The punishment for the rebellion was crucifixion.

Daniel’s mother stayed by the crosses for two days and contracted a deadly illness. Daniel tells Malthace and Joel that Leah, just five years old at the time, became so traumatized that she lost her mind. It was then that Daniel made a solemn vow to avenge the death of his parents, to pay back the Romans for what they had done to his family and his country.

At the time, Daniel’s grandmother tried to care for the children, but financial hardships forced her to sell Daniel into slavery. His sister remained traumatized, never venturing outside the house.

After hearing Daniel’s story, Joel, too, takes an oath, swearing to fight the Romans for as long as he lives. Thacia also takes the vow.

The three come up with a means of communication, a way to share information secretly. They will etch a “bow” above the entrance to the passageway. The image comes from the Song of David. Joel and Thacia leave; Daniel decides to return to the mountain and slips away.

Analysis

The three teenagers bond even more in this chapter. They find strength in the Book of Enoch and purpose in Daniel’s story.

Daniel’s lust for revenge is finally revealed. His experiences are indeed horrific. Imagine being eight years old, losing both parents, and witnessing your elderly grandmother endure backbreaking labor and extreme poverty. Then imagine being helpless to aide your sister, who has been so traumatized that she becomes agoraphobic. Now compound those horrors with being sold into slavery. It is not difficult to understand Daniel’s state of mind and how a call to arms would be appealing.

Joel comes from a different place than Daniel does. He has lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle but has great empathy and intelligence. When the actions of the Romans are made real for him, he is inflamed to the point of action.

Malthace proves herself to be the most rational. She remains hesitant to believe that an “outlaw” like Rosh would be the person whom God has chosen to free the Jews. Thacia also demonstrates a desire to change the traditional roles of Jewish women. Witnessing Joel and Daniel’s passionate vow, she, too, wants to take it. Daniel tries to dismiss her, but Malthace invokes the names of Deborah and Queen Esther, powerful women whom God chose to serve him. So why, Malthace asks, should she herself be excluded from the vow?

It is also Malthace who realizes the true meaning behind the following phrase: “He trains my hands for war, / so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” While Daniel and Joel understand it in completely literal terms, Malthace argues that it is God alone who can give people the strength to do the impossible.

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Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis

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Chapter 8 Summary and Analysis