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Nazareth, the hometown of Mary, the mother of Jesus is the origin of one of those Bible enigmas that have many perplexed about the veracity of God’s Word. Let’s solve it.
This episode is the second in a series of the three cities associated with the Ministry of Jesus Christ. The first explained why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This one reviews why He spent His youth in Nazareth and the last one reveals why He was crucified in Jerusalem. There is an overriding purpose God has in mind and it behooves us to understand His aim, rather than speculate about human ideas.
The author of the first Gospel, Matthew is the cause of a misunderstanding about Nazareth needing closer scrutiny to unravel.
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.
Here’s how Wikipedia sums up the controversy. “Matthew ends the verse arguing that Jesus’ life in Nazareth fulfilled a messianic prophecy, which he quotes: “He will be called a Nazarene.” However, no such prophecy is found in the Old Testament, or any other extant source. Because of this, the verse has been much studied, and various theories have been advanced attempting to explain the enigmatic quote.”
God’s Word will answer this query. We just have to let the Spirit guide us into the puzzle God assembles with His Words, not ours. This puzzle is not the explanation of ONE verse. We could consider one verse as one piece of this puzzle. The Explanation prefers to view one word as one puzzle piece and a verse as a group of pieces, a minute part of the full puzzle. Hence, the word Nazarene (Mat. 2:23) is one puzzle piece, and we will see where its rightful position is in the puzzle.
Let’s see the overall picture to assemble the pieces.
Matthew is the first Gospel, book, of the New Testament. Many would prefer John because of its initial reference to Creation. However, Matthew also refers to Creation, as we’ll see. Before we identify the puzzle piece Nazarene, we will start by establishing the larger framework, the puzzle, and the pieces around Nazarene. Only then will we know we have put the correct piece in the one and only place it can occupy to assemble the entire puzzle correctly.
Here’s the major framework. Adam was the first man, Jesus is the second man. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).
This study is profound and you’re going to have to read all the contexts, the pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, we don’t have space for all the details, but there’s enough for you to understand the entire puzzle. Everything in Matthew relates to the SPIRITUAL, HEAVENLY CREATION as compared to the PHYSICAL, EARTHY CREATION of Adam at the beginning of Genesis. Please keep this concept in mind as we proceed. It begins immediately in Mat. 1:1 with the genealogy. Why does it begin this way?
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Genesis 5 (and Luke 3) give the human, worldly genealogy. As I pointed out in the last episode about Bethlehem, Abraham and David represent the spiritual line leading to Jesus, of which He is their son, (this is important to retain). Matthew gives the spiritual, heavenly genealogy. Christ was both man and God, a concept difficult to understand we’ll come back to.
Mat. 1:18 “…She (Mary) was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is not the father, God the Father is. The Spirit is the Power the Father used to conceive this spiritual man, Jesus. This parallels the Spirit of God moved over the waters establishing the physical Creation (Genesis 1:2).
Mat. 1:23 “they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” This corresponds with Genesis 2:2 a difficult-to-understand verse, “God rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Please read this article to understand that on the first Sabbath God rested WITH His Creation, Adam and Eve, to make them… In other words, to build them spiritually.
Mat. 2:15 “Out of Egypt have I called my Son,” corresponds with Hosea 11:1. Notice how Matthew is confirming the Messiahship of Jesus with prophecies from the Old Testament that Christ fulfills. Including how the physical precedes the spiritual.
Mat. 2:18 “Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not,” corresponds with the female and male sorrow in Gen. 3:16-17. The former is because of physical labor. The latter is because of spiritual events.
Mat. 2:23 The verse we’re elaborating, for which, according to Wikipedia, “no such prophecy is found…” Note that ALL the other prophecies are there! Did Matthew make a mistake? I don’t think so. 🙂
I want you to note that Mat. 2:23 is the CONCLUDING VERSE of Matthew’s narrative about Christ’s birth and youth. He devotes chapter 3 to John the Baptist. Note there is only one very important quote from Jesus in this chapter, 3:15. “… for thus it becomes us (John’s baptism of Jesus) to fulfill all righteousness.” We need to stop and meditate on that. In a totally UNrighteous, physical world, a monumental event would take place, spiritual RIGHTEOUSNESS, because of the Son of God. All the prophecies, everything Matthew alludes to reaches its culmination in this event of RIGHTEOUSNESS.
And then, drumroll….. chapter 4, immediately, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Think, what should that remind you of? Who else, shortly after their Creation was tempted by the devil? Yes, Adam and Eve. Again, the physical, spiritual parallel.
Look at Genesis 2:25 “And they, the male and his wife (not named yet, representing the entirety of humankind) were both naked and not ashamed.” This verse is correctly translated, but Key 4 to Unlock Bible Meaning comes directly into play, the figurative meaning. Like an iceberg, 9/10 of the meaning is hidden. Please read and study this article to reveal the hidden meaning. In a nutshell, the couple was NAKED of SIN and NOT CONFUSED (also the meaning of ashamed). If you’re reading this for the first time, I understand your skepticism. You must read the article and understand Sam is not interpreting or translating the verse, that’s the deep, important figurative meaning.
An additional point regarding Adam and Eve’s physical righteousness revolves around the deeper understanding of what God told the man when placing him in the Garden of Eden. To dress and keep it. Again, you must read … was man destined to be a Gardner? No, dress and keep hide the profound meaning of worship and serve Him, observe and watch over His will and ways. God gave them explicit instructions regarding righteousness, the key being to make the right choice of Trees from which to eat!
In other words, at this point in the Genesis narrative, the couple possessed physical RIGHTEOUSNESS as much as any human can ever have and be. They were withOUT sin. Please notice that like Matthew 2:23, this verse in Genesis 2:25 is a CONCLUDING VERSE regarding the description of the Creation of the male and female. Genesis is physical and Matthew is spiritual righteousness. And in Gen. 3, like Mat. 4, the VERY NEXT event is the arrival and temptation of the Serpent.
Are you following what’s happening here? Genesis is the Creation of the FIRST man and the path of man’s physical way. Matthew is the Creation of the SECOND man and the path of GOD’S way. In Gen. 3, adam-humankind succumbed to the Serpent’s temptation and the rest of the story is humankind doing their own thing. In Matthew 4, Jesus, man-God, overcomes the Serpent, and the rest is the story of those called out ones who embrace Christ and their spiritual struggles in overcoming the Serpent.
Matthew 2:23 is a prophecy that the name of the city where Christ would live is related to the life He would lead. It is his spiritual label, His righteous path, like naked was Adam and Eve’s spiritual label. Now, let’s see what it means over at UnlockBibleMeaning.com.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: (G3478) that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene (G3480).
Ναζαρέθ Ναζαρέτ Nazareth Nazaret nad-zar-eth’ nad-zar-et’; Of uncertain derivation; Nazareth or Nazaret a place in Palestine
KJV: – Nazareth.
Ναζωραῖος Nazōraios nad-zo-rah’-yos; From G3478; a Nazoraean that is inhabitant of Nazareth; by extension a Christian
KJV: – Nazarene of Nazareth.
in this case, Strong doesn’t give us much help, no relation to any Hebrew word whatsoever, but the Greek and its literation aid in quickly clearing up a grammatical problem. We must understand just a little about the Hebrew pronunciation of Nazareth. You can hear it in Hebrew here. Note it is pronounced natsareth not nazareth. The z is a ts. This might sound like a moot point, but it is essential because Nazarene is pronounced with a z. Hence the confusion. In Hebrew Nazareth is written נצרת and Nazarite נֶזֶר (Leviticus 15:31).
The word Nazarene does not exist in the Hebrew text. The point is Key 6 to master Biblical Hebrew, ROOTS. The two roots נצר (netser) and נֶזֶר (nezer) although containing two similar letters (נר) do not have a common third letter. They are two different roots not to be confounded. Using Nazarene in conjunction with Nazareth is an error. Inhabitants of Nazareth are not Nazarenes, we could call them Nazoraean as does Strong or Nadzorahyos, as does the Greek (note the dz pronunciation).
Where and what is the meaning of נצר (netser or nedzer) in the Hebrew Scriptures?
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch (H5342 – וְנֵ֖צֶר (the וְ is and a)) shall grow out of his roots:
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Note the Branch’s righteousness shall be his girdle. This is the fulfillment of all righteousness we see in Matthew 3:15. The Branch of Jesse, the father of David, the descendant of Abraham is Jesus. I can’t expand too much on this here, but in talking with the Jews and Pharisees, Christ evokes His own existence BEFORE Abraham and BEFORE David.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42 Saying, What think you of Christ? whose son is he? They say to him, The Son of David.
43 He said to them, How then does David in spirit (David’s inspiration from God) call him Lord, saying,
44 The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool?
45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither dared any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Christ is using the SAME argument in both discussions. He existed (I AM) BEFORE both Abraham and David. Yet in Isa. 11:1 it’s prophesied He’d be the Branch of Jesse and Matthew starts his Gospel by confirming this very fact, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Christ, the I AM, is also the Branch. Christ, the I AM, is God and also the Branch, the physical son of Abraham and David, he’s man.
The strength of this argument stumped the Jews… and, if you have an open spiritual mind, should amaze you with wonderment. They dared not question Christ anymore about WHO He was! You should KNOW WHO HE IS.
Branch in Isa. 11:1 is H5342. Below is the root H5341, look at it very closely and meditate on the meanings.
נֵצֶר nêtser nay’-tser; from H5341 (נָצַר) in the sense of greenness as a striking color; a shoot; figuratively, a descendant:
KJV – branch.
נָצַר nâtsar naw-tsar’; a primitive root; to guard, in a good sense (to protect, maintain, obey, etc.) or a bad one (to conceal, etc.):
KJV – besieged, hidden thing, keep(-er, -ing), monument, observe, preserve(-r), subtil, watcher(-man).
The deep spiritual meaning of Nazareth (netser), the hometown of Jesus, refers to Christ’s Minsistry. Key 7 to master Biblical Hebrew is words tell stories. The story of netser (נֵצֶר) is Jesus was besieged by enemies, revealed hidden things, kept His Father’s Works, is a monument, the Foundation, and Builder of His congregation, a perfect observer of God’s Words, preserver and giver of life, subtil and wise above all and watcher over His people.
Much more can be said about Matthew’s inspired comment, “He shall be called a Nadzorahyos (the Greek).” Christ’s hometown represents His righteousness during His upbringing and the preparation for His vital Ministry focused on Jerusalem as we’ll see in the next episode.
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