“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 Four)
We closed last week’s bulletin looking to this week’s installment with the intent of searching the Old Testament scriptures for passages where forms of the Hebrew word nazer are found. Our purpose will be to consider verses in Isaiah and Jeremiah particularly.
But first, let’s address a question that may be lingering in the minds of some. Matthew’s inspired statement concerning Jesus being called a Nazarene is prefaced by “that which was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled.” Now if you’ve been paying close attention you’ll have noticed that really only one Old Testament prophet and his inspired utterances have been cited so far, that being the prophet Isaiah. Who else called Jesus a Nazarene? Just a reminder that Nazarene literally means “branch.” Two Hebrew words are translated as “branch” in the New American Standard version of the Bible. We’ve discussed one, nazer, so far. The other Hebrew word for branch is tsemach (pronounced zemach). Twelve times this word is found in the Old Testament, five times it is applied in a messianic sense. Jeremiah employed this term only twice in his inspired record. Guess what? Both times the word shows up in a messianic context. “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. (Jer. 23:5) and, ‘ Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD,’ when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she shall be called: the LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jer. 33:14-17) Zechariah, through the Holy Spirit was also availed of this word twice and yes, just as you may have guessed, both times in a messianic gist. ‘Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you– indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.’ (Zech. 3:8) “And take silver and gold, make an ornate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts,’ Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.” (Zech. 6:11, 12). Isaiah was not only moved by the Holy Spirit to utilize a form of nazer in a messianic implication but also was moved by the same Spirit to apply a form of the Hebrew word tsemach in chapter four verse two: “In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. ” It’s obvious these two Hebrew words translated “branch” are interchangeable in reference to the Messiah. There’s your substantiation the prophets would call Jesus a Nazarene! Amen?