The Bible Hope – Breakdown
The third episode of ‘The Bible’ – Hope – begins with the Babylonians on Judah’s doorstep. King Zedekiah is aligned with Babylon but is conspiring with Egypt. His betrayal upsets Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who sends his army to destroy Jerusalem.
The prophet Jeremiah warns Zedekiah of the Babylonian army’s pending arrival. He tells Zedekiah to surrender, or he will die. He informs Zedekiah that God is being merciful by warning him to give in to Babylon, but the king ignores Jeremiah.
The Babylonian army arrives and lays siege to the city for 18 months. The Israelites starve, and many of them resort to cannibalism. Eventually, Nebuchadnezzar launches a final attack and overruns the city. Zedekiah has Jeremiah brought before him and asks for the prophet to intercede on Judah’s behalf. Jeremiah replies that it’s too late.
Zedekiah realizes that it’s over and goes on the run with his two children. Meanwhile, the Babylonians slaughter many of the people in the city and take the rest of them into exile. They also loot God’s temple and burn it to the ground. Nebuchadnezzar later hunts down Zedekiah, who watches his sons killed before having his eyes removed. Jeremiah is one of the few people who manage to escape.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are among the people who are carted off to Babylon. Daniel works in Nebuchadnezzar’s court and becomes valuable when he interprets one of the king’s dreams.
Later, Nebuchadnezzar passes a law which states that all of the people in the Babylonian Empire must bow and worship a statue of him. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego refuse to sin by worshiping the king and are punished by being thrown into a fiery furnace. However, instead of burning to death, a fourth person appears in the furnace and saves them. Nebuchadnezzar tests the fire and sustains a nasty burn on his left hand, which proves that God stepped in on his people’s behalf.
Led by King Cyrus, Persia soon overthrows Babylon. He enters the city, without a fight, and takes over the empire. Daniel soon begins interpreting dreams for Cyrus, which causes jealousy in his royal court.
One of his advisers convinces Cyrus to pass a law that requires everyone in the kingdom to stop praying for a month. Daniel disobeys the order and is thrown into the lion’s den for praying to God. That night, Cyrus is unable to sleep and runs to Daniel’s aid. When he opens the cage door, Cyrus finds Daniel standing among the lions unharmed. The king confesses that Daniel’s God is real and allows them to go back to Jerusalem. He then orders the adviser who conspired against Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den.
Years later, the Romans have taken over Jerusalem. In Galilee, Joseph tells Mary how beautiful she is before the Romans arrive and arrest him. At that point, an angel appears and consoles Mary. He tells her that she will soon give birth to the son of the Most High. “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God,” the angel says.
Later, Joseph is upset when he finds Mary pregnant. She tells him to trust her and that she is still a virgin, but he doesn’t believe her. The angel visits Joseph and tells him that Mary is indeed a virgin. Joseph finds Mary, who is being picked on by a crowd, and tells her that he will marry her. Later, Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem.
Meanwhile, the three kings recall the prophecy of the Messiah. In Jerusalem, Herod speaks with the Balthazar about the prophecy concerning the king of the Jews.
The story returns to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. Mary gives birth to Jesus in the manger, and the three kings kneel before the child with their gifts. Mary tells the king that the child’s name is Jesus.
Joseph then takes his family on the run because Herod has decreed that every infant boy should be killed. Jesus is the only child that escapes.
A few years later, John the Baptist is baptizing people and proclaiming that “one who is greater than me” will come. As he is speaking, Jesus arrives and requests to be baptized. The astonished John baptizes Jesus.
Jesus enters the wilderness for 40 days. Satan meets him there and tries to tempt Jesus into rebelling against God. Jesus rebuffs Satan and sends him away.
Jesus then recruits Peter to join him, while in a cut scene, John the Baptist is placed under arrest and beheaded as he proclaims that the Messiah is here.
The Bible Hope – Analysis
First, to cover the positives, this episode of “The Bible” did an excellent job portraying each story. There were few inaccuracies in the episode, and the acting was more believable than in any of the two previous installments. The show’s producers deserve credit for putting together a high-quality depiction of the Bible. There are few productions out there that can compare to what the History Channel has done.
However, the problem is that the timeline in this episode completely bypasses some of the most important stories in the Bible. This causes the episode to have a disjointed feel to it. I understand that there was a limited amount of time and money available for this series, but “The Bible” really should have covered some more stories about Israel’s kings and the Jews’ return from exile.