Nazareth is set among rolling Galilee hills covered with ancient groves of olive trees, overlooking the Jezreel valley. One of the oldest cities in the Holy Land, archaeological excavations of the area have found remains dating back some 3,000 years, to the time of the Bronze Age.
Nazareth was only a small village in the years of Jesus’ childhood and youth, but its fame grew rapidly after his death. His early followers were called Nazarenes, and still today both the Hebrew and Arabic words for Christian – Notzri and Nazrani – are generally believed to be drawn from the town’s name, in the same way as Jesus is often called Jesus of Nazareth. This name, given to Jesus in the New Testament is connected to the verse that talks of Joseph’s return with his family to Nazareth “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.
However, the derivation of that word has long been the subject for debate. Since the 4th century, scholars have pointed to the book of the prophet Isaiah as the probable source of the prophecy Matthew was referring to, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”, Isaiah 11:1. Jesse was the father of king David, and branch is from the Hebrew word “netzer” meaning both shoot and descendant.
*And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:26-28
It seems that Matthew is reinforcing the lineage of Jesus with which he opens his Gospel “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”, Matthew 1:1. Certainly, many scholars suggest that Jesus’ royal line would be more important than the fact of coming from a tiny village in the Galilee that did not even warrant a mention in the Old Testament.Share this page with your friends
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