The film begins in 26 A.D. with the arrival of Joseph and Mary to the city of Bethlehem. Here, they take part in the census and the birth of Jesus follows soon afterward. This short prelude is the beginning of the story and is followed by a jump in time to when the bulk of the plot takes place.
The change in time takes the film to the city of Jerusalem. Messala, a roman officer, has come to the city to relieve the past command and take the city under his own control. Messala was sent by the Emperor to ensure the submission of the Jews there. Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince, had been friends with Messala since childhood. Now that they were both adults and held respectable positions, they met up. Messala tried to convince Judah into being an informant for him, however, Judah refused saying that he would rather be an enemy to Messala than an informant. This soiled their relationship.
Due to the hatred between Messala and Judah, when Judah’s sister accidentally dropped some tiling on to the Roman procession, Judah is imprisoned by Messala and sent to the galleys without a trial. Messala decided that if Judah would not inform him, then he would use Judah as an example. Messala hopes that his harsh reaction will create his desired obedience of the city. On the way to Tyre, Judah almost died of thirst, but was saved by Jesus when he was given water.
Jumping ahead three years, it is noticed that Judah has been rowing on galleys for all of that time. A crucial moment comes when the ship...
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...d with hatred for the Roman Empire and blames everything that has gone wrong in his life on them. When Esther returns to Judah, she is surprised by the anger in Judah and feels no love for him.
Eventually, Esther is able to persuade Judah into bringing his mother and sister to Jesus to get them healed. They head to the Valley of Lepers to retrieve Judah’s mother and sister. However, when they reach Jerusalem, they find that Jesus has been sentenced to death. They were able to make it to his procession to Golgotha and while they were watching Jesus go by, they see him fall down. Judah recognizes Jesus as the man who gave him water when he was close to death, so he brings water to Jesus when he has fallen over. Jesus is then crucified and at the moment of Jesus’ death, Judah’s mother and sister are healed of their leprosy. They all return home and rebuild their lives.
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