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When the child-murderer Herod was dead, Joseph the foster-father of Jesus was visited in Egypt by an angel. The glorious messenger reassured him that it was now safe for the little family to return to Israel. And so they came and would have taken up residence in Judea, probably again in Bethlehem the city of Joseph’s royal ancestor. Had Joseph and Mary decided that Judea and Jerusalem would be the proper home for the “Son of the Highest”? Here he could converse with noted rabbis and attend the best traditional schools. Here he could celebrate all the feasts in the shadow of the Temple. Here he could have the “best” opportunities and meet the “best” people.
He Shall Be Called a Nazarene
“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23)
Did The Old Testament Prophesy Jesus Coming From Nazareth?
“...and being warned by God in a dream, he [Joseph] departed for the regions of Galilee, and came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’” (Matthew 2:22-23).
Nazareth of Galilee
One of the most striking things connected with Nazareth is the fact that it is not referred to at all in the Old Testament, nor does Josephus allude to it, although he was at one time governor of Galilee and must have been familiar with the towns and villages of the district. It may be assumed that before the days of Christ it was but little known and was a place of no importance. After his times a long period elapsed before it figures in recorded history, and then its part was anything but an important one.
Called a Nazarene: No Such Words Found in the Old Testament
“...that he shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23)
This epithet (Greek: Nazaraios) is applied to Christ only once (Matthew 2:23). In all other cases the word is rendered “of Nazareth” (Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67, etc.). When this Greek designation was at first applied to our Lord, it was meant simply to denote the place of his residence. In course of time the word became a term of reproach. Thus the word “Nazarene” carries with it an allusion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as “despised of men” (Isaiah 53:3). Some, however, think that in this name there is an allusion to the Hebrew netser, which signifies a branch or sprout. It is so applied to the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1), i.e., he whom the prophets called the Netse, the “Branch.”
naz-a-rēn ́; naz ́a-rēn (Ναζαρηνός, Nazarēnós; Nazōraíos in Matthew, John, Acts and Luke): A derivative of Nazareth, the birthplace of Christ. In the New Testament it has a double meaning: it may be friendly and it may be inimical.
naz ́a-reth (Ναζαρέτ, Nazarét, Ναζαρέθ, Nazaréth, and other forms):
Nazarene an epithet given to our Lord. There are two Greek words for this designation — Ναζαρηνός (only Mark 1:24; 14:67; 16:6; Luke 4:34); and (elsewhere) Ναζωραῖος — both derived from Ναζαρέθ, Nazareth of Galilee, the place of the Savior’s childhood and education. These two Greek words occur in the New Testament nineteen times; twice only are they rendered Nazarene (Matthew 2:23; Acts 24:5); everywhere else by the words “of Nazareth,” as Matthew 21:11. This appellative is found in the New Testament applied to Jesus by the daemons in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34); by the people, who so describe him to Bartimsus (Mark 10:47; Luke 18:37); by the soldiers who arrested Jesus (John 18:5,7); by the servants at his trial (Matthew 26:71; Mark 14:67); by Pilate in the inscription on the cross (John 19:19); by the disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:19); by Peter (Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10); by Stephen, as reported by the false witness (Acts 6:14); by the ascended Jesus (Acts 22:8); and by Paul (Acts 26:9). At first it was applied to Jesus naturally and properly, as defining his residence. In process of time, however, other influences came into operation. Galilee was held in disesteem for several reasons: its dialect was provincial, rough, and strange (Buxtorf, Lex. Talmud; Mark 14:70); its population was impure, containing not only provincial Jews, but also heathen, as Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians (Strabo, Geog. 16:523); its people were seditious (Josephus, as cited in Schleusner, s.v. Γαλιλαῖος); whence also the point of the accusation made against Paul, as “ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). Nazareth was a despised part even of Galilee, being a small, obscure place. Accordingly its inhabitants were held in little consideration everywhere. Hence the name Nazarene (Kuinol, in Matthew 2:23) became a term of reproach (Wetstein, in Matthew 2:23,23,23), and as such, as well as a mere epithet of description, it is used in the New Testament. “The name still exists in Arabic as the ordinary designation of Christians, and the recent revolt in India was connected with a pretended ancient prophecy that the Nanzarenes, after holding power for one hundred years, would be expelled.” SEE NAZARETH.
Nazareth (/ˈnæzərəθ/; Hebrew: נָצְרַת, Naṣrat; Aramaic: ܢܨܪܬ, Naṣrath; Arabic: النَّاصِرَة, an-Nāṣira) is the capital and the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as “the Arab capital of Israel”. In 2014 its population was 74,619. The inhabitants are predominantly Arabs, of whom 69% are Muslim and 30.9% Christian. Nazareth Illit (lit. “Upper Nazareth”) is built alongside old Nazareth, and had a Jewish population of 40,312 in 2014. The Jewish sector was declared a separate city in June 1974.