Book Four — Getting closer to the Christ
Judah Ben-Hur trains for five years in the Palaestra in Rome and becomes the heir of the deceased Arrius. Judah goes to Antioch on state business. On the voyage, he learns that his real father’s chief servant, Simonides, lives in a house in this city, and that his father’s possessions had been entrusted to him. He pays a visit to the house and tells his full story to Simonides, who demands more proof. Ben-Hur replies he has no proof, but asks whether they know the fate of Judah’s mother and sister. He says he knows nothing and Judah Ben-Hur leaves the house with an apology. Simonides hires his servant Malluch to spy on Judah to see if his story is true and find more information. Malluch meets and befriends Judah in the Grove of Daphne and they go to the games stadium together. There, Ben-Hur finds his old rival Messala racing one of the chariots, preparing for a tournament.
A prosperous Arab of Antioch, Sheik Ilderim, announces that he is looking for a chariot driver to race his team in the coming tournament. Judah, wanting revenge on Messala, decides to drive the sheik’s chariot and defeat Messala. Meanwhile, Balthasar and his daughter Iras are sitting at a fountain in the stadium. Messala’s chariot nearly hit them but Judah intervenes. Balthasar thanks Ben-Hur and presents him with a gift. Judah heads to Sheik Ilderim’s tent. The servant Malluch follows him there, and along the way they talk about the Christ and Malluch relates Balthasar’s story of the Magi. They realize that the man rescued at the fountain was the same Balthasar that saw the Christ’s birth.
Back at Simonides’ house, Esther, Simonides and Malluch talk together, and conclude that Ben-Hur is who he claims to be, and that he is on their side in the fight against Rome. Messala realizes that Judah Ben-Hur has been adopted into a Roman home and his honor has been restored. He threatens to take revenge. Meanwhile, Balthasar and his daughter Iras arrive at the Sheik’s tent. With Judah they discuss how the Christ, approaching the age of thirty, is ready to enter public ministry. Judah takes increasing interest in the beautiful Iras.
Book Five — Planning against Rome
Messala sends a letter to Valerius Gratus about his discovery that Judah is alive and well, however Sheik Ilderim intercepts the letter and shares its contents with Judah. He discovers that his mother and sister were imprisoned in a cell at the Antonia Fortress and Messala has been spying on him. Ilderim is deeply impressed with Judah’s skills with his racing horses and is pleased to choose him as charioteer.
Simonides the merchant comes to Judah and offers him the accumulated fortune of the Hur family business, of which Simonides has been steward. Judah Ben-Hur accepts only the money, leaving property and the rest to the loyal merchant. They each agree to do their part to fight for the Christ, whom they believe to be a political savior from Roman authority.