I didn’t skip Book 7, exactly. This basically covered Ben-Hur meeting up again with Balthasar and his daughter, Iras. They travel together along with Ben-Hur’s group of people to meet the prophet John the Baptist, who was prophesying about the coming Son of Man.
During their travels, Iras tells Ben-Hur the story of how the earth, man, and woman were created. The story was of Isis and Osiris, deities who were of the moon and sun. Osiris sent Isis away from him, determined to create everything himself. He was able to, with exception to creating woman. Isis was responsible for this.
It really is a beautiful story, and an interesting way to think of the earth and mankind being created.
So, onto book 8 we go!
This book begins on March 21st, 3 years after Christ was first proclaimed in Bethabara.
Simonides has a conversation with his daughter, Esther, concerning her love for Ben-Hur and the fact that he is likely to marry Iras, who sees him as her way to leading Rome. Iras is quick to let Esther know that she will be wed to Ben-Hur, and Esther is left in tears. (Some things never change, do they? Hearts were broken then as they still are today).
Ben-Hur told the entire group of the miracles he had seen Christ perform; from turning water into wine, to making 7 loaves and 2 fish enough to feed five thousand. He spoke of how he witnessed him cure lepers, and raise the dead to life again.
Amrah, hearing of the cure for the lepers, went the next morning to the mother and Tizrah, wanting to bring them to the Nazerene, so they too could be cured and made whole again. Ben-Hur believed them still to be dead.
The women made the trek to where they thought to meet the Nazerene, and asking for mercy when they met him on the street, He did indeed heal the two women. As he took to traveling with the Christ, Ben-Hur himself was present to witness the transformation of his mother and sister. While waiting for an examining priest to declare them perfectly cleansed, they each shared their stories of their lives over the previous years.
And finally, as Ben-Hur again is on the move, Iras shows herself for whom and what she truly is. Not being able to bear hearing her speak another word against the Christ, Ben-Hur asks that they part and forget they ever met (haven’t we all said “I wish I never met you!” once in our lives?) Iras continues on to reveal she knows all the secrets of Ben-Hur, whom he had killed, and that he knew Messala. After much debate, and Iras trying to force Ben-Hur to pay Messala money to right the wrongs he did to him, the two part ways.
Ben-Hur comes upon Esther sleeping, and declares his love for her, and vows to come back another time as she is awake.
Soon enough, as Ben-Hur returns to his group of followers, he witnesses the Romans coming, and watches as they capture the Nazarene. Ben-Hur rushes to him as he is being led away, asking if he will accept his rescue if Ben-Hur should give it. The Nazarene never speaks a word of an answer.
It is not much longer that he realizes that this was the plan of the Christ all along. The plan of God, and the plan he had for the Christ.
As the procession marches past their camp, they all watch in horror as the Christ is moved past them. Balthasar, Simonides, Esther, Ben-Hur, and all the others of their group, heartbroken at once to see what is happening to their Savior.
The death of Balthasar happened as the death of the Christ happened. Ben-Hur tried to tell Iras the bad news, but she was nowhere to be found.
The story moves ahead 5 years, and Ben-Hur and Esther are now married. As Esther played with her two children, she had a visit for Iras, aged beyond her years, cursed by her own evil thoughts. She brought the message of Messala’s death, and her punishment for the curses she spoke to Ben-Hur.
Ilderim’s son makes a final appearance as well, to bequeath to him his father’s last wish, the Orchard of Palms is to be given to Ben-Hur, for his actions at the Circus so long ago.
The last we learn of Ben-Hur is that he orders Malluch to prepare the ship, as they are going to Rome to fight the persecutors of their bretheren.
I really enjoyed this story. The details were amazing, and being as long as it was, it was not the type of story to be boring, then good, only to become boring again. Oh. Yeah. I will have the movie version of this bought before the weekend is out 🙂 It shouldn’t be too hard to find with Easter right around the corner!