Jesus was the son of an upper-class Jewish family: 1 Sam. 16; 1 Kings 19:19ff.; Luke 2:1ff. If Jesus had advanced from the lower class,

Jerusalem, Via dolorosa
Jerusalem, Via dolorosa

there should be stories about his social rise like those by Aesop, the Greek writer of the fables: see Wolfgang Müller (ed.): Das Leben Aesops, Leipzig 1974.

Jesus was brought up at King Herod’s court: 1 Sam. 16:14ff. The account of how David comes to King Saul’s court is a story about Jesus.

From his youth onwards, Jesus was friends with Herod’s son Antipas: 1 Sam. 18:1-4. The stories about David and Jonathan relate to Jesus and Antipas.


Jesus is almost always presented in a positive light in the Old Testament. Elisha and the Man of God are positive figures,

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

even though the Man of God is not entirely innocent. Absalom and his rebellion are presented sympathetically; we discover that David (Antipas) mourned Absalom (Jesus) after his death. Only Aaron (Jesus) has a negative role in relation to Moses (Antipas).

The friendship between the youthful David (Jesus) and Jonathan the king’s son (Antipas) is a special chapter of the Jewish Messiah story: it sanctions the transition from Herod’s dynasty to a new line of rulers starting with Jesus.

To sum up, one can say that Jesus enjoyed great respect among the Jewish community in the period before the Jewish rebellion, when these texts were written down. The separation between Jews and Christians after 70 AD was still far in the future.