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Introduction

Elizabeth George Speare's The Bronze Bow takes place in Galilee, Israel, during the time of Jesus. Eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin has endured a life of unbelievable hardships. At the tender age of eight, Daniel witnesses his father’s and uncle’s crucifixion by Roman soldiers. His mother also dies shortly thereafter. Daniel’s younger sister, Leah, is so traumatized by their deaths that she appears to lose her mind. Daniel’s grandmother, poor and elderly, is unable to support the children, so she is forced to sell Daniel to the town’s blacksmith, Amalek.

Daniel works for Amalek for five years but then escapes. He flees to the hills above Galilee and becomes a member of a rebel group led by the zealot Rosh. Rosh despises the Romans who occupy Israel. It is his mission to drive them all from the land.

Daniel too is consumed by hatred of the Romans. He makes it his mission to kill as many as he can in order to avenge his parents’ deaths and to pay them back for the havoc they have wreaked on his country.

The longer he spends with Rosh, the more Daniel’s hatred grows. But he begins to hear about a man who has a different message, a message of love and tolerance. However, Daniel faces a long battle before he can give up his vow of hatred. He even puts his friends as well as his sister in danger. It seems that he will destroy them all in his single-minded pursuit for justice, but gradually, the words and actions of Jesus help Daniel understand that only love has the strength to “bend the bow of bronze.”

Extended Summary

The Bronze Bow is set in Roman-occupied Israel during the time of Jesus. Eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin is living in the hills above Galilee. He has been there for five years, having escaped a life of slavery.

Daniel, however, also had other reasons for fleeing his home. At the age of eight, he witnesses the execution of his father and uncle by the Roman forces. His uncle’s original crime had been failure to pay taxes. Instead of saving money, Daniel’s uncle impetuously buys his wife a gold shawl for the naming ceremony of their first child. He intends to do extra work to make up the loss before the due date, but the tax collectors arrive early. He is arrested and destined for a short life of hard labor in the quarries. Daniel’s aunt nearly goes insane.

Moved to help them both, Daniel’s father and some friends plan to free the uncle as the troops lead their prisoners to the quarries. They attack, but all are captured. The punishment for the rebellion is crucifixion.

Daniel’s mother is inconsolable. She stays by the crosses for two days and nights to be near her husband. As a result, she contracts a deadly illness. She too dies a few weeks later.

But the tragedy does not stop there. Daniel’s sister, Leah, just five years old at the time, is so traumatized that she appears to lose her mind. Although it may appear obvious to modern readers that her condition is caused by the horror of...

(The entire section is 1,743 words.)