Joel from the start of this excellent novel is paired up with Daniel. They are both eighteen years old and appear together in the first chapter. Likewise, both Joel and Daniel are filled with nationalistic zeal against the Roman overlords that have controlled their country for so long. Both desire and yearn for the end of the occupation of the Romans. Note how he is described in Chapter One:
He was Joel bar Hezron, the red-cheeked boy who used to come to the synagogue school, the scribe's son, the one the rabbi held up for an example, the one they used to tease because his twin sister always waited outside to walk home with him.
Even though Joel comes from a studious background, he still believes passionately in a free Judea, and he lies to his father to be involved in the rebel campaign against the Romans. However, in spite of the way in which he compromises his own personal standards to follow Rosh and the rebels, he shows that he is sensitive, caring and forward thinking. Note how it is he who aids Daniel in his plight when he is injured. He shows himself to be a supportive friend brother.
Of course, Joel is also used to present a character who is based in the Jewish law and thus struggles in his response to Jesus coming from this background. Joel, in confronting the claims of Jesus, needs to re-examine everything that he has been brought up believing. However, he too, like the other main characters, ends up following Jesus.