“But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he 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.’ ” Matt. 2:22-23 (Part one)
Way back when we got this study rolling on Old Testament quotes found in the New Testament, we promised we’d look at some of the more obscure or difficult to understand quotes. Today we take a diversion down that fork of the road considering the above passage.
First a question. Where is the above quote found in the Old Testament? Grab your concordances, conduct a search and guess what you’re not going to find? The exact quote as it’s penned in our passage above. As a matter of fact, you won’t even find the word “Nazarene” in the Old Testament. “What?!!”, you say? “Is the Bible wrong?!!” Don’t worry brethren, there is an answer and a logical explanation why the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to record (for our edification) the statement above. Notice that Matthew says “what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled.” There’s a little hint there for us and it means we’re going to have to put all the Old Testament scriptures together on our Lord being called a Nazarene to get a clearer picture in the purpose of this divinely directed utterance. “Well, hold on.” you say. “You just said the word Nazarene isn’t even in the Old Testament and now you’re telling us we have to put all the Old Testament passages together where Jesus in messianic prophecies is called a Nazarene. How in the world can we do that?!!!” Patience, dear brother or sister. Alright, what we need know is that Nazarene and Nazareth are Hebrew words that were transliterated (much like Hosanna per last week’s discussion) into the Greek texts. Both these words are derivatives of the Hebrew word “natsar” ( or netser, Strong’s Concordance no. 5341). In Hebrew, natsar (and associated derivatives) are translated in some of the following ways in the New American Standard Bible: keep, kept, watchman, watchers, besieged, cunning, preserve, hidden things, secret places, tends and guards. As an aside, another direct derivative of natsar is netser (or netzer, Strong’s word no. 5342). Netser (which literally means “a sprout, shoot”) is translated branch and descendants. Hmmm.. more on that word later. Let’s take a quick look at Isaiah 48:6 “You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known.” The words “hidden things” in this passage is the feminine plural form of natsar which is nazeroth (or netsaroth). Notice the similarity now to the word Nazareth in our text above? Here is one passage that is a “direct” answer to that which was fulfilled by the mouths of the prophets concerning Jesus and His hometown of Nazareth. If you read the context of Isaiah 48, you’ll see that Yahweh is declaring to Israel the fact that what He has foretold long ago has always come about. Here in this passage, He informs Israel of a hidden thing, the prophetic name of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth- which many scholars believe didn’t even exist at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy. We’re just getting started on this topic, stay tuned!