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Matthew 2:23 NIV

and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

From what research I have done, it does not seem that any of the prophets who are recorded in the old testament said this, or anything similar. Even the apocrypha does not seem to make reference to this prophecy.

Even more troubling, is Matthew saying the prophets, plural, have predicted this, making it even more vexing that it is not written in anywhere in the canon today. What was Matthew referencing here?

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Also, more to the point - why is the sect of Nazarenes (such as Samson was) conflated with a geographical location? –  Affable Geek Dec 20 '12 at 23:55
    
Nazareth is a place and has nothing to do with being a Nazarite. You would be a Nazareen if you came from Nazareth not a Nazarite, two completely different things. –  Zurc Nov 30 '13 at 0:02
    
@zurc maybe, but Matthew is clearly connecting the two? Isn't he? –  aceinthehole Dec 1 '13 at 1:04
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2 Answers

My response comes from this article about OT prophecy about Jesus from Nazareth.

It basically states that there is no direct Old-Testament reference to Nazareth. The article postulates two explanations:

1) It was a reference that Jesus would be despised.

He says 'prophets,' plural. It could be that Matthew was referring to several Old Testament references to the despised character of Jesus (i.e., Psalm 22:6, 13; 69:10; Isaiah 49:7; 53:3; Micah 5:1). Nazareth held the Roman garrison for the northern areas of Galilee.1 Therefore, the Jews would have little to do with this place and largely despised it

2) It might be a play on words for the Hebrew word for branch.

there could be a play on words that Matthew was referring to. In Isaiah 11:1 it says, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." In Hebrew, the word for "branch" is netzer, "NZR" which letters are included in NaZaReth.

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Some think that Samson was a type of Messiah because he was a Nazarite (one consecrated to God - נָזִר nazir) for his entire life.

Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ (Judges 13:7, ESV)

But this is not the only prophetical book that ties into the Nazarite theme of Messiah. The same Hebrew word 'nazir' is used (set apart) in reference to Joseph who was also a type of Messiah.

The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart (נָזִר nazir) from his brothers. (Genesis 49:26, ESV - brackets original Hebrew)

Therefore by both Judges and Genesis playing on the theme of 'nazir' it can be said the prophets predicted that Messiah would be called a Nazarite.

According to Alfred Edersheim there is even an ancient Jewish tradition that seems to recognize this Messianic expectation of nazir:

ancient Jewish tradition, in referring to the blessing spoken to Dan (Gen. xlix. 17, 18), applies this addition: “I have waited for Thy salvation, Jehovah,” through Samson the Danite, to the Messiah. (Alfred Edresheim, Bible History Old Testament)

This view also seems to have been held by John Calvin, here.

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