The story recounts the adventures of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Judah's childhood friend Messala returns home as an ambitious commanding officer of the Roman legions. They come to realize that they have changed and hold very different views and aspirations. During a military parade, a tile falls from the roof of Judah's house and barely misses the Roman governor. Although Messala knows that they are not guilty, he condemns the Ben-Hur family. Without trial, Judah is sent to the Roman galleys for life; his mother and sister are imprisoned in a cell previously used for lepers and all the family property is confiscated.
Through good fortune, befriending and saving the commander of his ship, Judah survives and is trained as a soldier. He returns to Jerusalem, where he seeks revenge against his one-time friend and redemption for his family. Running in parallel with Ben-Hur's narrative is the unfolding story of Jesus, who comes from the same region and is a similar age. The two reflect themes of betrayal, conviction and redemption. With the Crucifixion, Ben-Hur recognizes that the Christ stands for a different goal than revenge, and he becomes Christian, turning to supporting the new religion with money which he has inherited, inspired by love and the talk of keys to a greater kingdom than any on earth.
The name "Ben Hur" derives from the Hebrew for "Son of white linen".
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Author Lew Wallace―a Civil War general, politician, and diplomat―conducted meticulous research into the ancient world to bring a vivid immediacy to his characters and settings, from life as a Roman galley slave, to the living death of exile, to a Jerusalem leper colony. The novel's countless admirers included President James A. Garfield, a former professor of literature, who told the author, "With this beautiful and reverent book you have lightened the burden of my daily life."
Falsely accused of attempting to assassinate a Roman governor, Ben-Hur is enslaved and sentenced to work on a Roman galley, while his mother and sister are imprisoned and their possessions and land confiscated. Luckily, he survives when the ship is attacked by pirates, and comes home, determined to find his family and intent on revenge on the Romans. While organizing a resistance force, he journeys to see John the Baptist. After he realizes that Jesus stands for forgiveness rather than revenge, Ben-Hur becomes one of his followers and devotes his life to the church after the crucifixion.
First published in 1880, Ben-Hur became a bestselling book upon publication, and was adapted to the celebrated 1959 film of the same title, which won eleven Academy Awards. A true classic, this suspenseful and moving tale gives a glimpse of life at the turn of an era.
Lauded as one of the most influential Christian books of the 19th century, BEN-HUR is a tale of betrayal, redemption, and faith. This religious epic interweaves the harrowing journey of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman enslaved as a charioteer, and the story of Jesus Christ. His family wrongly accused of treason, Ben-Hur fights to clear their names, drawing inspiration from the words and deeds of Jesus as their lives intersect in surprising and powerful ways.
‘The happiness of love is in action; its test is what one is willing to do for others.’
In first-century Judea, Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur is falsely accused of assassinating a Roman governor, and sentenced to life as a galley slave. His fortunes are reversed when he saves the captain’s life and he returns, determined to seek his revenge against those who have brought misfortune to both himself and his family. His life becomes intertwined with that of Christ’s, and after witnessing His teachings and eventual crucifixion Ben-Hur discovers the redemptive power of forgiveness.
The bestselling American novel of the nineteenth century, ‘Ben-Hur’ had never been out of print on the hundredth anniversary of its publication in 1980. After numerous stage and film adaptations, it remains hugely influential today, and is soon to be a new major adaptation.
One of the best-selling books of all time, Lew Wallace’s enduring epic is a tale of revenge, betrayal, honor, compassion and the power of forgiveness, set during the life of Christ.
At the beginning of the first century, Judah Ben-Hur lived as a prince, descended from the royal line of Judea and one of Jerusalem’s most prosperous merchant families. But his world falls apart when he is betrayed by his best friend, Messala, who falsely accuses him of an attempt to assassinate the Roman governor.
Convicted without trial, Judah is sentenced to slavery on a Roman galley, while his mother and sister are imprisoned and his family’s assets are seized. All seems lost, but just before boarding the ship, Ben-Hur has his first interaction with the Christ, who offers him water and hope. Their lives continue to intersect as Ben-Hur miraculously survives his time as a slave to become a charioteer, confront his betrayer, Messala, in an epic race, fall in love with the beautiful Esther, avenge his family, and become a follower of the Christ.
A true epic, Ben-Hur weaves biblical history and a rich adventure plot into a timeless tale certain to entertain a new generation of readers.