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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Matthew, Matthew 2:23, writes "Jesus came and dwelt in Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene"; not "by the prophet," but "by the prophets," meaning no particular quotation but the general description of Messiah in them as abject and despised (Isaiah 53:2-3). The Nazarene people were proverbially so. "Called," as in Isaiah 9:6, expresses what He should be in His earthly manifestation; not that the prophets gave Him the literal name, though His contemporaries did. Matthew plays on similar sounds, as Micah on Achzib (Micah 1:14) and Ekron (Micah 2:4). The "Nazarene dweller" (Νatsri ) was, as all the prophets foretold, a "pain sufferer" (natsari from the Aramaic tsear , "pain"); the Aramaeans pronounced the Hebrew "a" as "o," from whence arose the Greek form Νazoraios .

(Biesenthal, Jewish Intelligence, December, 1874). The nickname "Nazarene" agreed with His foretold character as: (1) despised in man's eyes, (2) really glorious. Men in applying the name unconsciously and in spite of themselves shed glory on Him; for Nazarene is related to neetser , a "branch," Messiah's distinctive title, indicating His descent from royal David yet His lowly state (Isaiah 11:1); the same thought and image appear in the term tsemach (Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12). Also Νaziraios , applied to a Nazarite by vow in Old Testament (from the Hebrew root nezer "dedication," "the high priest's mitre," and "sovereignty"), indirectly refers to Christ under His New Testament distinct designation "Nazarene" and Νazoraios , i.e. belonging to Nazarene.

Samson the Nazarite, "separated" or "dedicated unto God," typically foreshadowed Him (Judges 13:5; Judges 16:30), separated as holy unto God, and separated as an "alien" outcast by men (Psalms 69:8). Though the reverse of a Nazarite in its outward rules (Matthew 11:18), He antitypically fulfilled the spirit of the Nazarite vow and ritual. Had the prophets expressly foretold He should be of Nazareth, it would not have been so despised; nor would the Pharisees, who were able from Micah 5 to tell Herod where Messiah's birthplace was - Bethlehem (Matthew 2) - have been so ignorant of the prophecy of His connection with Nazareth as to say, "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52). (See NAZARITE; NAZARETH.)

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Nazarene'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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