Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 13

“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 Three)

OK, we’ve touched on a couple of verses in the Old Testament demonstrating that Nazareth and Nazarene were indeed divinely uttered by a prophet (Isaiah) of the Old Covenant looking to the coming Messiah.

The big hitch in connecting the word Nazareth and Nazarene to Old Testament prophetic statements easily (as has been previously discussed) is because these two words are transliterated Hebrew words into Greek, which were subsequently transliterated into our English Bibles. Now the thinking person may already be asking this question. ‘Why wasn’t the Hebrew word translated properly into Greek?’ A great question to which this writer can only speculate and offer some limited insight. So let’s backtrack a bit and address it as best we can. Perhaps a little background in Hebrew “literary devices” may offer help. Isaiah has been noted for hyperbole (exaggeration), sarcasm, and irony. However, Isaiah’s inspired passages also contain common Hebrew literary devices such as play on words, double entendre, or similarity in sound and meaning. Many times the complete meaning of the text is dependent on these untranslatable (into other languages) devices. Our first verse we looked at in this study, Isaiah 48:6 and the term nazeroth in Hebrew, is an excellent example of “play on words” and double meaning when used as a transliterated word. In our English Bible it is translated “hidden things” but it really comes alive and has greater impact in light of the inspired statement of Matthew when he demonstrated for us, through  the spirit, as a transliterated word, it was to be the name of Jesus’ hometown as well! It’s good for us to remember that Matthew was a Hebrew. He likely was raised in the synagogue system of that time where he would have been taught about the use of Hebrew literary devices. Don’t you think the Holy Spirit would exploit those very literary devices by the hand of Matthew to deliver a “wow” factor to us as we come to understand the subtleties of these transliterations? It sure seems possible, doesn’t it? Remember how tough it was for the disciples and apostles to understand Jesus statements when He said what seems to us to be a pretty plain statement? Again, it’s perspective and what we use and have available by which to filter those statements. When Jesus was labeled a Nazarene and his followers as Nazarenes, could that have triggered something in Matthew’s mind that God intended to use all along?  Once Matthew is enlightened and has his mind opened to understand the Scriptures after Jesus’ ascension, is it beyond the pale of consideration then, that as he came to understand the awesome subtleties in these transliterated words, that He would have diligently communicated them to those that he discipled? Sure! And wouldn’t the faithful scribes insure his gospel was copied in its original form? Yup. Brethren, there’s more awesome stuff to come concerning the forms  of the word nazer (netzer) found in Old Testament  passages about the people (Nazarenes) who would serve this Nazarene. Amen.


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