Ben-Hur To The Finish

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!

Almost Finished! With Ben-Hur, That Is!

I will have this finished by tomorrow and will post my last one about this book! Then on to something new 🙂 I am really enjoying this story though, and will definitely be getting the movie this week to add to my collection. So, to continue on….

Simonides returns to Ben-Hur all of the property that was his, as well as everything he accumulated while running things. Ben-Hur simply returned it back to Simonides, lest the 120 talents that were Ben-Hur’s fathers, and what Simonides used to build his vast fortune.

It is also made clear to Ben-Hur that he must return to Rome, to finish what must be done for the coming of the Christ.

The next major portion of the book is focused on Ben-Hur getting prepared for the Circus, and hopefully exacting his vengeance on Messala.

The night prior to the games, a brochure given to Ben-Hur shows that he is named as such in said brochure; obviously the work of Messala. It should also be noted that no one is willing to place a wager on the race, because no one is willing to bet against Messala. The saloon that night is filled with supporters wearing the scarlet color that represents support of Messala: no other color is worn in the saloon. Sanballat, another Jew in Rome, proudly enters the saloon to take bets in the favor of Ben-Hur.

And then the chariot race is on! The details are descriptive, and you can just as well see this race taking place. Ben-Hur won, as I expected; Messala is left never to walk again, and another driver did not survive at all.

Book 6 is 30 days ahead of the night Ben-Hur left Antioch to go into the desert in search of his family with Sheik Ilderim.

The first sentence in Chapter 1 of Book 6:

A great change has befallen–great at least as respects the fortunes of our hero. VALERIUS GRATUS HAS

BEEN SUCCEEDED BY PONTIUS PILATE! (pg 240).

When I hear the name Pontius Pilate, I immediately think of a coward, someone who knew Jesus was innocent of the crimes spoke of him, yet he didn’t want to upset the people of his city. He let them decide who was to be crucified, Jesus or Barabbas, and then washed his hands of the whole situation (likely both literally and figuratively).

As this is going on, a person whom we today would consider a prison guard) brings to the attention of a tribune that he has discovered a woman and her daughter locked in a hidden prison cell for 8 long years. Finally, Ben-Hur’s Mother and sister are found. They refused to let the men who broke them free lay eyes on them, because they were lepers.

They were set free, being reminded of what the law for lepers was, and in the middle of the night stood at the gates, unsure of what to do next.

We return to Ben-Hur, who at last has Jerusalem in his sights. His first place to search is his former home.

Tirzah and her mother had of course the same idea; to return to their home. The women saw their son and brother sleeping, but did not wake him. They witnessed his reunion with their housemaid, Amrah, and were the next day driven from the village and told to go with the dead, as that is where lepers belonged. Amrah in turn heard the story of the women’s rescue at the water well, and had to decide if and how to tell Ben-Hur, for she feared his search for them would make him leprous as well. After seeing both mother and daughter, she was instructed to not tell Ben-Hur she had seen them, for it would mean his death. She obeyed, and tended to the two women both morning and night, and they lived in their tomb amongst the other lepers, waiting for death.

The tribune, on the other hand, had no such orders to obey and showed Ben-Hur the written document of how the two women were found. Finally, he knew they were lepers.

The end of book 6 details Ben-Hur defeating a Roman after Pilate has his disguised men kill those whom have gathered to see him and refuse to leave. 

Wallace, L. (1880). Ben-Hur: The Tale of the Christ. New Jersey

Where Was I? Oh, Right. Back To Ben-Hur

I have the hardest time when I don’t read a story for even a couple days, and then try to jump right back into it. Did I have time to read Ben-Hur this weekend? Honestly; yes I did. Especially since I started reading another book Saturday night while I was trying to stay awake all night and get back on my shift-worker schedule. It was a lighter read, a fun murder-mystery (should that be fun? Ehh, it’s a good story) that I got halfway through. But more on that later.

So as to where I left Ben-Hur; he has heard Balthasar’s story, and needs time to contemplate what it could all possibly mean.

Book Five begins with Ben-Hur thinking about what he was told, as well as having Esther on his mind.

Messala is also occupied by his thinking, and pens a letter to Gratius, the governor whom Ben-Hur supposedly tried to assassinate. He tells of the incredible story he heard of how Ben-Hur is still alive, and that he actually saw him the previous day, although not recognizing him at the time.

Ben-Hur spends some time with Esther, and he runs the horses through their paces, preparing for the race against Messala and hopefully the revenge he has longed for all of these long years.

An intercepted letter that falls into the hands of Ben-Hur and Ilderim tells that no one is sure of the fate of his mother and sister, and that Messala now considers Ilderim to be a traitor.

Ilderim takes the highest offense to this. He confesses that he knows Ben-Hur for who he truly is, and hopes that he will seek the revenge he himself is no longer capable of dispensing. He won’t tell Ben-Hur how he came to know his true identity, just that he does indeed know it.

(At some point I will reach the end of this story; certainly not as soon as I had expected, but I will get there, I promise!) Although I am enjoying this story, it normally does not take me this long to read a book, even one of this length. I am looking forward to ending this one and moving on to something new.

More of Ben-Hur

Chapter VI, of book 4

Ben-Hur is part of a procession of people going to the Grove. He finds an opportunity to leave the group aside and trails off into the thick overgrowth of the woods. He stays for some time there, enjoying the beauty of the blooming trees and the creatures who dare show themselves to him. He quickly chides himself for having happy feelings when his mother and sister are lost.

As he works on getting away from the Grove, he notices from a bridge that what he is in is actually a wall-less temple, built strictly out of nature’s own materials.

Chapter VII has Ben-Hur going with Malluch to the stadium, where competitors will gather for the chariot races.  He learns that one of the drivers is none other than Messala, looking as haughty as ever. An instance of near death-by-chariot to a woman and her father, she on camel-back, tells us that the father is Balthasar, one of the 3 wise men we met in the beginning of the story. (Malluch was who was ordered to follow Ben-Hur; I forgot to tell you that, didn’t I?)

The opportunity presents itself for Ben-Hur to race against Messala, on the morrow, at what they call the Circus. He is quickly off to see the Sheik whom is the owner of a beautiful chariot and steed of horses, said to be descendants of the 1st Pharaoh’s horses.

As Malluch and Ben-Hur travel to the Sheik, Malluch describes the story of Balthazar, as Ben-Hur recalls the man at the fountain whose life he saved from the chariot driven by Messala was one and the same.

Further on, Malluch returns to Simonides and reports on what he learned of Ben-Hur. He states with confidence that Ben-Hur is whom he claims to be, by the things he had told him and the way he behaved. Simonides daughter Esther seems especially happy about this as well, and her father is not sure if it is because he would be their ruler or because she loves him. (I find it amazing how fast people fell in love back then, don’t you?) She confesses that she does indeed love Ben-Hur, and wishes for him to not attend Circus, and race against Messala. Simonides ponders this information as he also ponders knowing that the King to Be was indeed born, and expecting him to make his appearance in his lifetime.

The story then turns back to Messala, and a gathering of soldiers and followers amongst who he begins to hear the tale of a Roman and a Jew, whom was adopted by Quintas Arrius, yet Messala fails to make any connection to his former young friend. 

Again we go back to Ben-Hur, who has now arrived at the tent of the Sheik of whose horses and chariots he wishes to command in the race at the Circus. After discussing his plans for revenge with the Sheik, he again meets Balthazar, whom is also there with the Sheik. As they quietly eat dinner, it becomes clear that of this gathering of an Arab, a Jew, and an Egyptian, all believers in One True God, it is Balthazar that must tell his story of searching for and finding the baby Jesus.

The author kindly lets you know that from here-on-out, Jesus will be referenced to throughout the story, as this is the timeframe of when he began his ministry.

A quote from Balthazar that literally took my breath away (or I was holding my breath…)

“There is a kingdom on the earth, though it is not of it–a kingdom of wider bounds than the earth–wider than

the sea and the earth, though they were rolled together as finest gold and spread by the beating of hammers. Its

existence is a fact as our hearts are facts, and we journey through it from birth to death without seeing it; nor

shall any man see it until he hath first known his own soul; for the kingdom is not for him, but for his soul.

And in its dominion there is glory such as hath not entered imagination–original, incomparable, impossible of

increase” (Wallace, 1880, pg 166).

I have heard the kingdom referred to as already being here on earth from several different authors, including C.S. Lewis, who ended the Narnia series with everyone going up, up, higher into the garden that continued to become more bright and beautiful.

I think that is more than enough for today; I hope I am not boring you with this story, I have to say, it is one of the better books I have read! And yes, I still want to see the movie.

Wallace, L. (1880) Ben-Hur. Harper and Brothers Publishing.

Some Ben-Hur Bits

Another quick update, I am getting this read slowly-but-surely! (I have to be honest, I almost bought the movie Saturday, I have a dvd-buying problem, but I knew if I did I would watch it immediately and likely never finish the book. I will be getting the movie as soon as I get this story finished!)

Book 4

The year of our Lord 29

After 5 years, we see Ben-Hur still on a ship. The Grove of Daphne seems to beckon to him. Ben-Hur is going to the citadel, to discover who may be left of his family and servants after being told the story of his own disappearance by a Hebrew on board the ship. He was told of the supposed death of his father, and that a slave named Simonides  took over the running of the family business, no questions asked, and is now running a successful business, as a prosperous business owner.

Ben-Hur, hoping only for word on his mother and sister, is willing to free this slave for any information about these two women. Simonides has nothing to tell Ben-Hur of his family, only that they are lost. Ben-Hur leaves, disappointed in what he has been told.

Simonides, on the other hand, decides to have him followed, apparently to see if Ben-Hur is the Prince he claims to be. His daughter, Esther, is going to learn why the appearance of this stranger has made her father so extraordinarily happy. Esther learns the story of her father, and mother, and that he is indeed the slave of the late Ben-Hur, and how he came to be managing his property and business.

As Ben-Hur makes his way to what was once his home, he notices that although many things appear to be different, maybe they are really still the same (it seems to be a life-learning lesson that has never changed through the ages).  

I am anxious to read about his mother and sister, I hope he finds out something soon!

Ben-Hur in Bits and Pieces

I apologize for getting behind on updating this book. I even missed posting my Friday Fun Facts! 🙂

In the year of our Lord 24.

How the true 1st edition of Ben-Hur looks. His wife had  influence over the cover design seen here.
How the true 1st edition of Ben-Hur looks. His wife had influence over the cover design seen here.

The 1st two chapters of Book 2 basically give descriptions of the sailing vessels used during this time, and the types of workers who performed different duties, the most important seemingly being the rowers.

Arrius was the captain of this ship, and his attention had been caught by a Jewish rower, known only as rower #60.

“Ithamar, of the house of Hur.”

Chapter three has Arrius calling rower #60 to him (known to us from here-on-out as Ben-Hur) to find out his story. With hope and a happy heart Ben-Hur explains he seeks word of his mother and sister, and how the falling tile that knocked out the Roman Governor had labeled him an assassin.

Chapter 4 starts out like you would expect a children’s adventure story to begin, with pirates chasing down the fleet of Arrius. As it became obvious to Ben-Hur as he observed the actions of the crew around him and Arrius, they were indeed preparing for battle. It is a difficult thing to read that the oarsmen were all shackled to their benches, preventing any chance of escape in the event of a disaster (pg. 92). Ben-Hur was seized with anticipation, guilt, and shame as he wondered if he himself would be chained to his seat as the rest of the oarsmen were. He indeed was not; and knew then that Arrius had indeed placed him in a higher stature.

I will spare you the gruesome details of the battle that took over the sea. As Ben-Hur realized that the Romans had boarded their ship, he knew that Arrius could indeed be fighting for his life, and if he were killed, Ben-Hur would likely never get to see his mother, sister, and the Holy Land.

Both Ben-Hur and Arrius ended up in the water as the ship was overtaken and began to break apart and flood. As Arrius slowly regains consciousness and grasps what has happened, he reveals to Ben-Hur that he did indeed know his father, and loved him.

From page 100:

I shall be duumvir, and thou! I knew thy father, and loved him. He was a prince indeed. He taught me

a Jew was not a barbarian. I will take thee with me. I will make thee my son. Give thy God thanks, and call

the sailors. Haste! The pursuit must be kept. Not a robber shall escape. Hasten them!” (Wallace, 1880).

At the conclusion of book 3, both return to Quintus Arrius’ home, and Ben-Hur is made his adopted son and receiver of everything he owns upon his death.

On to book 4, with a goal of being done by week’s end! (I get a feeling I may likely regret saying that).

Wallace, L. (1880). Ben-Hur. Harper and Brothers Franklin Store.

Since I’m Reading It, I Might As Well Talk About It!

ImageBen-Hur. It looks a little intimidating. Even sounds a little intimidating. I have to say I am really enjoying this story. The descriptions Mr. Wallace uses make you feel like you are right there.

Some things from the start of the book:

Reading about the 3 Wise men from a different point of view is interesting. The Egyptian is Balthasar, The Greek is Gaspar, and the Hindoo (their spelling) is Melchior. Each individually saw the star and heard a voice tell them to seek the Christ-child that was to be born. They met at the place where the star and prophecy directed them, and each told their own story of how they came to be there.

As they began to get closer to Bethlehem, they asked those that they passed where they could find the Christ-child. The following was the general response:

pg 39 –

“Nobody knows. They are said to be Persians–wise men who talk with the stars–prophets, it may be, like

Elijah and Jeremiah.”

“What do they mean by King of the Jews?”

“The Christ, and that he is just born.”

One of the women laughed, and resumed her work, saying, ‘Well, when I see him I will believe.”

Another followed her example: “And I–well, when I see him raise the dead, I will believe.”

A third said, quietly, “He has been a long time promised. It will be enough for me to see him heal one leper.”

And the party sat talking until the night came, and, with the help of the frosty air, drove them home.

They do find him, in a manger, with many followers who joined them on their quest, bowing down to worship their new King.

Book two moves ahead 21 years, and focuses on young Judah, and his friend Messala, gone for 5 years and returning a Roman. Judah can no longer tolerate Messala, who now speaks of the Jewish beliefs as if they are a joke.

Strictly by accident, Judah knocks a Roman Governor off from his horse, and this is taken as an attempt on his life. With his whole household, including his mother and sister, Tirzah, in mortal danger, he begs for their mercy as he is taken prisoner. It is at this point that we notice the change in Judah, as he becomes a man.

Real Murders-Wrap-up!

Image

Well, I wish I could say I saw that coming, but even having read this story before, I completely forgot who the murderer(s) was/were. I would say it has been about 4-5 years since I read this story. I think out of all 8 of the books in the Aurora Teagarden series, I have read 3 of them.

Of course I will be getting the rest of them; I mean I can’t have an incomplete set of books on my bookshelf, right? This is a book that if my children had anywhere else to be other than our home, I would have gotten it read in a day.

So as to not spoil this for anyone who wants to read it; the name(s) of the guilty shall remain a secret. This really is a quick read, it is funny, and intense, and will have you holding your breath at certain parts. You may even laugh out loud. Literally. I did, and more than once. Roe has a particular way of imagining pain being inflicted on someone who is not particularly nice (yes, since this is fiction, I absolutely laughed at it; her wanting to kick someone in the nuts was rather funny, at least the way she imagined it in her head).

I have less than 3 weeks off before my next college class, so I figured what better to read than Ben-Hur. Written by Lew Wallace, at a page count of 342, this shouldn’t take me all too long….. 🙂

I may or may not review this as I go along; it is pretty interesting so far, being a couple of chapters in. I have never read this before, or saw the movie that was made starring Yul Brynner.  I may read something a little less “heavy” right along with this and keep you updated on that. As long as the stories are not in any way, shape, or form similar, I can read 2 books at once!

What great story have you recently read?