Summary and Analysis Chapter 19
Daniel leads his group into position in order to save Joel from the Romans. Daniel does not believe that he will survive the ordeal, but he means to see that Joel does. Daniel knows that all the boys are prepared to sacrifice themselves, but Daniel, as their leader, resolves that this will not occur. Still, he worries about walking into a trap.
Finally, Joel comes into view. Driving him forward is a guard with a whip. Daniel waits for the right moment and then gives the signal. They all hurl rocks at the Romans below, but Joel cannot find a way to escape.
Suddenly, an enormous rock tumbles down the hillside. Samson, who had been faithfully trailing Daniel, has dislodged the rock. Daniel suffers injuries in the melee and soon passes out. When he awakens, Kemuel is attending to his injuries. Joel is unhurt and by his side. Daniel learns how Samson heroically saved them. The giant of a man removed Joel’s shackles with his bare hands and then threw Joel atop Daniel. Nathan and Kemuel, who were behind the large rock, pulled them to safety.
But Daniel realizes that something is wrong. Nathan has died in the fighting. And Joel tells Daniel how Samson also met his death. He had been hit by a spear and dragged away by the soldiers.
They are all aware that without Samson, they might be dead. Any idea of youthful romanticism in regard to war is lost.
Unlike Rosh, Daniel is ready to give up his own life to save Joel’s. His willingness to sacrifice himself echoes Jesus’ words: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
There are many biblical allusions in this chapter. As the boys launch the rocks, their action is reminiscent of the biblical battle between David and Goliath. When Samson heaves the rock and surrenders his life, he lives up to his biblical namesake.
Grateful for their lives but considerably older and wiser after this battle, the boys—now almost men—return with Joel. They leave behind Nathan and Samson, who truly did “lay down their lives” for the sake of their friends.