Questions and Answers: Chapters 1-5

1. Who is Rosh, and what is his “cause”?

2. For what are the Jews waiting?

3. How does Jesus differ from Rosh?

4. Why does Rabbi Hezron defend the Roman occupiers?

1. Rosh is the leader of the rebels who live in the hills above Galilee. Rosh claims that he and his band will rid Israel of the Romans. They will do so, he says, by intimidating, threatening, and often murdering any Roman who comes within striking distance. He believes in rule by fear, and this extends to those who live and work for him.

2. The Jews are waiting for the promised Messiah who will finally free them and rid Israel of Roman oppressors. In the beginning of the novel, Daniel fiercely believes that Rosh is this deliverer.

3. Rosh’s actions are all compelled by hate. He believes that freedom for the Jews will be accomplished by killing as many Romans as possible until they all give up and leave. He also believes that the ends justify the means. Rosh has his “army” steal what they need, even from fellow Jews, arguing that they should all be grateful and willing to support the “cause.” Jesus, by contrast, teaches a message of love and tolerance. He is humble and clean, unlike Rosh who is boisterous and filthy. Most startling to Daniel is that Jesus preaches a message of inclusion. Jesus says that all people, even the hated Romans, are children of God and have a place in his kingdom.

4. Rabbi Hezron believes that the Law will ultimately free Israel. “When the last Roman empire has vanished from the earth,” he argues, “the Law will still endure.” The rabbi does not believe in a violent uprising; he claims that all the insurgency has done is get innocent people killed. And, most galling to Daniel, he claims that the Jews actually have reason to be “grateful” to the Romans, whose money has built a “beautiful synagogue.”

Questions and Answers: Chapters 6-10

1. Where do Joel and Malthace hide Daniel and for what purpose?

2. What is the significance of the biblical passage that begins chapter 7?

3. Why does Malthace argue that Rosh is not the leader the Jews have been expecting?

4. What is Daniel’s personal vendetta against the Romans?

5. How does Malthace convince Joel and Daniel to let her take the vow to fight for freedom?

6. According to Rosh, what is Daniel’s “fatal flaw”?

1. The twins hide Daniel in a small storage room that is accessible both inside and outside the house via a secret passageway. They do so to nurse him back to health after Daniel is injured as a result of disrespecting and resisting a Roman soldier.

2. The three friends interpret the lines from the Book of Enoch as a call to resistance and defiance. They believe that the promised Messiah will seek bloody vengeance for the people of Israel. Joel argues that the “men of old didn’t wait for God to win their battles for them. They rose up and fought, and God strengthened them.”

3. Although Daniel is convinced that Rosh is the man for whom they have waited, and Joel is becoming increasingly won over, Malthace does not believe that God would choose an outlaw to “bring in his kingdom.”

4. The Romans are responsible for the death of his father and uncle. Daniel’s uncle was taken to prison for failure to pay taxes. His father tried to rescue him. They were caught and crucified. His mother stood by the crosses for two days and nights while he died. She became ill due to the exposure and because of her grief. She too died a few weeks later. Daniel’s five-year-old sister, Leah, had somehow gotten away from a neighbor and witnessed her father hanging on the cross. The trauma of the event seems to have driven Leah mad; she screams in her sleep and refuses to leave the house. Daniel’s grandmother tries to care for the orphaned children but is too poor to do so. She is forced to sell Daniel into slavery to Amalek the blacksmith. Daniel blames all of these tragedies on the Romans.

5. Malthace argues that many women in the Bible have served God admirably. She cites Deborah and Queen Esther. Daniel resists, saying that the vow is “a man’s vow.” Joel solves the problem by saying that they “will make a new vow. The three of us together. For God’s victory.”

6. Rosh says the Daniel’s fatal flaw is Daniel’s “soft streak.”

Questions and Answers: Chapters 11-15

1. What does Daniel mean when he says that “the weakest one of them had defeated him”?

2. What is the only valuable object that Leah possessed? How is it symbolic?

3. How does Speare humanize the Roman soldier who comes to Daniel’s smithy?

4. Why do the village boys beat up Nathan?

5. What does Daniel give to Leah, and how does it affect her?

6. Why is the Good Samaritan parable important?

1. Leah, the weakest person Daniel knows, has compelled Daniel to leave his life on the mountain, where he felt free and enjoyed a life of action. By accepting responsibility of his sister, he has chosen a life that will tie him down to a job and caring for her needs.

2. The loom is the only object of value that Leah possesses. It symbolizes her worth and skill. Leah can make beautiful things from virtually nothing. The loom also proves the value of women’s work. Daniel is helpless to perform tasks that Leah can do with ease.

3. When the Roman solider comes to Daniel’s shop, Daniel sees that he is no older than Joel and himself. The Roman also acts politely, although Daniel, seething with hate, misinterprets why the soldier stands instead of taking a seat.

4. Nathan gets beaten up because his father works for the Roman tax collectors. To the Jews, there is virtually nothing worse, and Nathan receives the brute end of their disgust.

5. Daniel gives Leah a silver talent, payment for some of the work she has done on her loom. The money thrills Leah. Daniel realizes that she has never been materially compensated for her work. Leah proudly tucks the coin in her headdress and wears it constantly, even while she works. The money gives her pride in her job.

6. The Good Samaritan parable teaches that all people are capable of kindness and, most important, that the kingdom of God is inclusive of all people. This tenet will be the hardest for Daniel to accept and overcome.

Questions and Answers: Chapters 16-21

1. What job does Rosh give Joel to do?

2. Why have the villagers become so disenchanted with Rosh?

3. What do the boys find and what, per Daniel’s instructions, do they do with it?

4. What finally causes Daniel to break from Rosh?

5. Who rescues Daniel, Joel, and the boys?

6. How does Daniel convince Joel to stay in school?

1. Rosh wants Joel to find out which rich people will be leaving their homes unguarded in order to attend a feast. He offers no help or advice to Daniel or Joel as to how to go about this task. With the help of Thacia, they decide on a plan. She will disguise herself as a boy and be seen in the village with Daniel, thus providing an alibi. For his part, Joel will pretend to be a fish merchant, peddling his wares to the homes of the wealthy and discovering via the gossip of the slaves who is planning to be away from home to attend the festivities.

2. The villagers have become disenchanted with Rosh because he has stolen from them, allegedly to support the “cause,” but his pillaging has gone on for years with no discernable benefit to those who have suffered losses. Daniel is forced to consider their point. He had envisioned more from Joel’s efforts other than “a wholesale looting of rich men’s houses.” He knows that no crop or sheep is safe from Rosh’s limitless appetite.

3. The boys find a catapult and surmise it will be used to try to oust Rosh and his men from their lair. The boys want to turn it against the Romans themselves, but Daniel points out that such a display would soon lead to their discovery. Furthermore, Daniel knows that any Roman death will lead to reprisals and the deaths of innocent people in Galilee. He orders the boys to disassemble the catapult and hide all the pieces.

4. Daniel breaks from Rosh when the “leader” refuses to do...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Questions and Answers: Chapters 22-24

1. What does Jesus ask in order for Daniel to follow him?

2. What startling news does Leah deliver to Daniel, and how does he react?

3. How does Simon define faith?

4. How does Daniel finally decide to follow Jesus?

5. How does Daniel demonstrate that he has truly accepted Jesus’ message of acceptance?

1. Jesus commands that Daniel relinquish his hatred. It is not enough for him to give up all his earthly possessions; in fact, those are of little consequence to Jesus. Instead, Daniel must replace his hate and intolerance with love and acceptance.

2. Leah tells her brother that the Roman soldier,...

(The entire section is 330 words.)