There are two accounts of Jesus’ death in the Old Testament. The first account is in 1 Kings 13:24: the Man of God is Jesus

Jerusalem, Wailing Wall
Jerusalem, Wailing Wall

while the lion stands for the Roman, Pilate. Verse 28 states that the Man of God’s body is unharmed, contrary to assumptions. This is a literary reference to Homer, the Iliad 24.18ff, where the same is said of the body of the Trojan hero Hector. In John 19:33, Jesus’ body is also described as unharmed, unlike those of the men crucified with him (his legs are not broken).

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The people of Samaria were now also caught up in the general euphoria and joined in the enthusiastic celebration of Jesus

Jerusalem, view from Mount of Olives
Jerusalem, view from Mount of Olives

as Messiah. Jesus made a triumphal progress through Samaria, starting in Caesarea Philippi and ending at the holy mountain Gerizim in Samaria. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem give an example of the enthusiasm with which the crowds greeted him.

The synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke compress the whole story of Jesus into one year: the year between Jesus being proclaimed as Messiah in 35 AD and his execution in the spring of 36 AD. However, this year was preceded by a long period where Jesus worked as governor of Galilee.

The Absalom narrative in 2 Sam. 15ff, the oldest account of Jesus’ triumphal progress, mentions a cleverly planned rebellion. Whether this was really a rebellion is doubtful, however, and the topic will yield plenty of material for further discussions. Ant. 18.4.1; Mark 11:1-10 par.; 2 Sam. 15; 1 Kings 13:23ff.


IV  2   Jesus

Jesus, Antipas’ governor and opponent, is given a great deal of space in the Old Testament history books. The historical figure of Jesu

Gerizim, Samaritan mosque, congregation
Gerizim, Samaritan mosque, congregation

is behind the following literary figures in the Old Testament: Moses’ brother Aaron with the golden calf; Moses’ successor Joshua (the same name as Jesus); the prophet Elisha whose many miracles recall those of Jesus; the Man of God in 1 Kings 13, where the account features analogies with the story of Jesus’ temptations (Satan = Jeroboam I = Antipas).

The story of Naboth’s vineyard is a literary version of the governor Jesus’ dismissal; in 2 Kings 8 Elisha mourns the future destruction of the holy places, as Jesus does in Mark 13:1-2; the Absalom story is an early version of the Passion narrative (David = Antipas; Joab = Pilate), as is the first part of Joseph‘s story up to Genesis 37:20 where Joseph is thrown into a pit, i.e. a grave.


The books of the Kings from 1 Kings 12 onwards describe and justify the origin of a separate northern state. Thereafter,

Gerizim, Samaritan mosque
Gerizim, Samaritan mosque

the history of the two states on Jewish soil are linked together in the narrative. There are clear depictions of Antipas as King Jeroboam I (artificial name, literary figure) and as King Ahab, who is known from archaeological sources.

As long as Antipas still ruled, he was described in glowing terms. After he was deposed and banished in 39 AD, the previously successful ruler’s problems (Bathsheba, Absalom) and finally his failure were openly described: 1 Kings 14; 22; 2 Kings 10.

The stories of Bathsheba (= Herodias) and Absalom (= Jesus) were appended to the early David narratives, reflecting the threats to Antipas’ rule.

And the promised dynasty of 2 Sam. 7 were placed in contrast with Antipas’ failure in 1 Kings 14 (Jeroboam I) and in 1 Kings 22; 2 Kings 10 (Ahab).