Summary and Analysis Chapter 20
The gatherings at the watchtower have ceased. The boys vow to begin again, but they will no longer serve Rosh. As Daniel immerses himself in his lonely work, Jesus’ admonition echoes in his head: “They who live by the sword die by the sword.”
Joel surprises Daniel with the admission that he has told his father everything. Daniel fears that the rabbi must hate him, but Joel assures his friend that his father not only does not hate him but will welcome Daniel into his home at any time.
Joel feels that he must join Rosh immediately because his father is sending him away to a distant school. This will mean that Joel can no longer fight for freedom. Daniel tells Joel that Rosh is no longer their leader. Joel fears that he personally has caused the break, but Daniel explains that Rosh is not the leader they thought he was. Joel says, “Then we must wait for a new leader.”
Daniel tells his friend to return to school. Joel is finally swayed by Daniel’s contention that the cause will require more than the support of farmers and laborers. “We’ll need priests and scribes too,” Daniel says, “and you can win them over because you understand them.”
Joel, however, has one more request before leaving. Jesus is in danger, he claims, and must be informed of the plots against him. He wants Daniel to warn Jesus.
This chapter opens in the month of Tishri, the traditional start of the Jewish New Year. Placing the action to come in this month is symbolic, for it is finally also a new year for Daniel spiritually. He has broken all mental and physical ties to Rosh.
Joel experiences growth too. He opts to tell his father all that has transpired, and the result is that his friend Daniel now has a safe haven in the Hezron home. Daniel helps Joel grow as well, showing him the error of Rosh’s ways and the need for educated men. Even Rabbi Hezron is shown to grow by offering shelter to Daniel and Leah, whom he had previously considered “unclean.” All the characters have made progress toward letting go of old ideas and embracing the real leader they find in Jesus.
A realistic picture in regard to how Daniel might feel emerges here. Speare does not gloss over the development of her protagonist; everything is not suddenly easy for Daniel because he has turned away from Rosh and toward Jesus. Daniel has put his foot on the right path, but the journey is still uphill.