The Old Testament accounts of Agrippa show that not only did he inherit Antipas’ kingdom, he also wanted to continue Jesus’ work
in founding an ideal Jewish monarchy. The church’s sensitive reaction in Acts 12:23 makes clear that the Apostles saw Agrippa as a rival.
Jewish standpoints evolved during Antipas’ rule and the main narrative threads of the Old Testament, the stories of David, the Kings and Joseph were all begun. Under Agrippa, these narrative threads were pursued further and the writing continued.
The efforts made to create great Jewish literature, imitating and also competing with Rome, and to found a great Jewish cultural tradition are noticeable in the text.
Antipas’ reign was a time of conflicts, of disputes
between Jewish groups. Under Agrippa I this period was followed by a time of consolidation, agreement, and reconciliation.
In the story of Moses, Antipas was the Moses of Exodus to Numbers, followed by Agrippa, the Moses of Deuteronomy, the more social legislation in the Pentateuch.
In the history of the kings, King Ahab (= Antipas) who was continually in conflict with the prophet Elijah (= John the Baptist), was succeeded by the revolutionary Jehu (= Agrippa) who was anointed king by the prophet Elisha (= Jesus).
In the subsequent kings’ history, the Jewish King Hezekiah (= Agrippa) proved to be a diplomat capable of averting external threats without violence. The account of Sennacherib’s representative Rabshakeh and Lachish in 2 Kings 18 is modelled on the report about Petronius, the Roman legate in Syria as a representative of the Emperor Caligula in Ant. 18, 8, 2.
In the Old Testament writings, Antipas’ achievements are depicted in a positive light in three narrative threads. (1) The Moses narrative
from Exodus 1 tells of how Antipas (= Moses) frees the people of Israel (= Galilee) from the rule of Pharaoh (= Herod) who was active in building on a large scale and demanded enforced labour. Pharaoh also hoped to kill Moses. The parallels to the narrative of the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem are very clear.
(2) 2 Samuel describes the period of David’s (= Antipas) rule. Antipas’ concern to create a religious focal point for his princedom is documented in the narrative about the Ark of the Covenant and brought to a positive conclusion.
(3) An essential feature of a stable government at that time was that the succession should be regulated. In 2 Sam. 7, Yahweh speaks through the prophet Nathan to assure David (= Antipas) that his rule will continue through his biological descendants.
In his 2006 postdoc thesis, Markus Schauer examined the figure of Aeneas dux in Vergils Aeneis. The subtitle of the published thesis
in 2007 calls Virgil’s poem Eine literarische Fiktion in augusteischer Zeit [A literary fiction in Augustus’ time). Schauer writes (p. 279):
“The epic is much more than an examination of the current ruler… it contributes to giving an identity to the Roman people, that incidentally was still the true ruler in Virgil’s eyes …
The Aeneid is a parallel world, like Virgil’s pastoral world; an ideal spiritual world in which the people and their ruler are still one and the ruler still communicates with the gods. Just as the Aeneid is a parable of order and chaos on the cosmological level, on the political level it is a parable for discord and harmony.
These statements could be applied in every detail to Moses and the Moses narrative. The following statement equally applies to the Moses narrative:
“(it is) a parallel world… an ideal spiritual world in which the people and their ruler are still one and the ruler (Moses) still communicates with the gods”.