King Philip’s War took place in the 1670’s and was the conflict between the native Indians of the New World and the English settlers. Mary Rowlandson was one of many people to be taken captive and ransomed by the Indians. In “From A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” by Mary Rowlandson, biblical allusions are used to parallel the conflict during Rowlandson’s captivity. These biblical stories of Job, Daniel and the lion’s den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all testaments of unwavering faith in times of hardship which directly correlate with Mary Rowlandson’s struggles during captivity. She makes these allusions in the beginning of her captivity, the middle of the captivity, and at the end of her captivity experience. This begs the question; did she actually refer to these stories during her captivity or was it something she added in when writing it all out?
The story of Job is alluded to in the beginning of Rowlandson’s captivity and serves as a hopeful testament which keeps her well rooted in her faith. Job was a wealthy, heavily blessed, and good man, and the Lord boasted about Job’s goodness to Satan. Satan claimed that the only reason Job was good was because he was heavily blessed. He challenged that if Job was tried, he would turn away from the lord and curse his name. God allowed Satan to punish Job. In just one day, Job lost all of his children, servants, and livestock, but Job still remained faithful to the Lord. Satan took another shot at Job cursing him with skin sores which covered his body. Although Job was distraught, his faith never faltered. As a reward for enduring these trials with unwavering faith, God granted job twice as much property, renewed health, and new children (Job 1-42). Rowlandson believes, much like Job that by losing her home, family, and friends, she was being tired (Rowlandson 129). This correlation however breeds hope because Jobs life was restored, perhaps her life would have that same restoration. Of course, in order to pass her trials and tribulations, she would have to maintain her Christian faith. Here allusion to the story of Job grants her comfort in her time of distress.
Daniel and the lion’s den is the second biblical allusion made as a testament of faith and serves as a reminder in the middle of her captivity that through faith in God deliverance is possible. In Daniel’s story, King Darius was ruler of Babylon and Daniel was one of many of his advisors. The other advisors did not like Daniel so they plotted to get rid of him. These other advisors suggest to King Darius that he issue a law in which people could only pray to or worship the king. Anyone caught worshipping any other god would get thrown in to the lion’s den to be eaten by the hungry lions. Daniel was aware of this new law but still openly worshipped God. He was caught and thrown into the lion’s den as penance for his actions. However, Daniel remained unharmed because he put his faith into the Lord and the Lord protected him as a reward for his unwavering faith (Daniel 6:1-28). Rowlandson references this story when Mr. Hoar came and she and Mr. Hoar were the only English among the Indians. She considered them lucky that the Indians did not kill them right then and there (Rowlandson 136). She believes that through her continuation of faith throughout this hardship, God kept them protected from the Indians. The analogy in this story is as follows: the Indians would be the lions and Mr. hoar and Mrs. Rowlandson would be Daniel. God delivered them from strife just as he had Daniel. It helped her maintain her faith and kept her patient while she waited to hear if they would let her go home to her husband.
The last testament to faith alluded to was that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego which she referenced during the conclusion of her captivity and the beginning of her restoration. Their story is much like Daniel’s. The three Jewish boys refused to bow down to the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He ordered people to worship a golden statue and when the boys refused, the King threw them into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had faith that God would protect them. As the King peered into the fire he saw four men walking around and talking in the fire unharmed, so he pulled them out and order the people to worship the god of Israel (Daniel 3:1-30). She references this story and gives thanks to the lord proclaiming, “God’s power is as great now, and as sufficient to save, as when He preserved Daniel in the lion’s den; or the three children in the fiery furnace” (Rowlandson 139). She believes the lord preserved her because she kept her faith like the three boys did. She was thrown into captivity just as they were thrown into the furnace and she was protected then pulled out of captivity just as they were protected and pulled out of the fire. The Lord protected her and rewarded her for maintaining her faith.
Rowlandson’s allusion to the biblical stories of Job, Daniel and the lion’s den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provided comfort, hope, and relation which allowed her to maintain her faith and seek deliverance from God. Her captivity narrative fits well with these stories and the relativity allows the readers to relate her real-life experiences to biblical scripture. This helps Rowlandson make a teaching experience out of her captivity. Throughout the entirety of the story there is a theme of maintaining faith in God, and these allusions accentuate that theme. These allusions may have been added in after the fact, however, the idea that she really did think of these bible stories as her captivity was playing out makes her faith seem so much stronger than if she was advised by someone else to include them. Her whole experience because of the allusions to the bible stories reads as a testament of faith itself.
Rowlandson, Mary. “From A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary
Rowlandson.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature,8th ed., vol. 1, Norton, 2013,
The Holy Bible: Authorized King James Version. Holman Bible Publishers, 1998.