Ben-Hur is a heroic story of a fictional hero named Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman who was falsely accused of an attempted assassination and enslaved by the Romans. He becomes a successful charioteer.The story's revenge plot becomes a story of compassion and forgiveness. The novel is divided into eight books, or parts, each with its own subchapters. Book one opens with the story of the three biblical Magi, who arrive in Bethlehem to hear the news of Christ's birth. Readers meet the fictional character of Judah for the first time in book two, when his childhood friend Messala, also a fictional character, returns home as an ambitious commanding officer of the Roman legions. The teen-aged boys come to realize that they have changed and hold very different views and aspirations. When a loose tile is accidentally dislodged from the roof of Judah's house during a military parade and strikes the Roman governor, knocking him from his horse, Messala falsely accuses Judah of attempted assassination. Although Judah is not guilty and receives no trial, he is sent to the Roman galleys for life; his mother and sister are imprisoned in a Roman jail, where they contract leprosy; and all the family property is confiscated. Judah first encounters Jesus, who offers him a drink of water and encouragement, as Judah is being marched to slavery aboard a galley. Their lives continue to intersect as the story unfolds. In book three Judah survives his ordeal as a galley slave through good fortune, which includes befriending and saving the commander of his ship, who later adopts him. Judah goes on to become a trained soldier and charioteer. In books four and five Judah returns home to Jerusalem to seek revenge and redemption for his family.