In Elizabeth George Speare's novel The Bronze Bow, Daniel and the boys who join his band all consider themselves Zealots. As such, they deplore the oppression of the Jewish people by the Romans, and they are determined to do whatever they must to end it, even if they have to fight for their freedom.
Daniel's dedication to the Zealot cause stems from the crucifixion of his father by the Romans. Even as an eight-year-old, he vows revenge, and by the time he is thirteen, he is living on the mountain with Rosh and his band of outlaws. When his grandmother dies, however, Daniel returns to his village of Ketzah to care for his sister, Leah, and work as a blacksmith. Daniel is a strong young man, talented at his work and dedicated to his cause, but he has a streak of hatred in him that gives him a sharp tongue, a scowling face, and occasionally a tendency towards violence. He is, however, a natural leader, and the other boys look to him for guidance.
Joel comes from a wealthy family. Although trained as a sandal maker, he has dreams of becoming a rabbi, and he studies the Scriptures deeply and finds in them reasons for his Zealot beliefs. He is the spiritual force in the group, always ready with a reading from the Hebrew Bible (and often an explanation of it) to encourage his friends. Joel is quite clever and easily comes up with schemes to accomplish whatever the group sets out to do. He even enjoys going “under cover” as a fishmonger to discover information.
Nathan is a young man who becomes a Zealot after his father takes a job as a tax collector to support their family. Nathan's friends attack and beat him for his father's action, for a tax collector is viewed as a collaborator with the Romans and a traitor to the Jews. Nathan's bitterness leads him to join Daniel's band of Zealots. He remains active even after he marries.
Kemuel, like Joel, comes from a wealthy family in Capernaum. He is an idealistic, fiery young man who says he is “tired of words” and has “no use for children's games” (160). He wants action against the Romans as soon as possible. Daniel isn't sure about Kemuel at first, for he senses that Kemuel is “used to having his own way,” and he notices “an edge of disdain” in the young man's face and voice (160). Kemuel, however, while impatient, is willing to commit to Daniel's band of Zealots, and he becomes a loyal member.
Joktan was a member of Rosh's band of outlaws before coming to live with Daniel. He is a “skinny twelve-year-old” with a noticeable stutter, but he is eager and willing to do all he can to help Daniel's group of Zealots (41). Joktan becomes Daniel's apprentice and almost a younger brother. He is brave, cheerful, and loyal, ready to do everything from drawing water at the well to helping Daniel in the blacksmith shop to running errands to serving as a lookout in a raid.
Daniel, Joel, Nathan, Kemuel, and Joktan are joined by several other young men from the area. They all come from different backgrounds and different family situations, but they are all committed to the Zealot cause to drive the Romans out of their land.