Matthew 2:19-23

19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.

23 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.”

Archelaus (v.22) — The son of Herod by his Samaritan wife Malthace. He was a violent as his father. At the beginning of his reign, he killed 3,000 Jews in the temple because some of them honored as martyrs those killed by his father.

Nazarene (v.23) — There is no specific prophecy in the Old Testament that Jesus would be from Nazareth. Matthew uses the plural “prophets.” The commentaries split pretty evenly on which of the following two explanations fit. I suspect that the answer may lie in both.

Galilee was despised by Jerusalem, and the town of Nazareth was especially contemptible (John 1:46). It was Joseph’s native place; and there he plied his trade as a carpenter. 

“Spoken by the prophets” (v.23). They all predicted that the Messiah, in His first advent, would be despised; that is, He would be a Nazarene; and so it came to pass. — Williams, page 698

The city of Nazareth evidently took its name from the word “netzer” (branch), possibly because of some special tree or sprout found in that vicinity. Therefore, it was easy to link the name Nazarene with the prophecies concerning Jesus as the Branch, or Sprout of the Lord (Isaiah 4:2), the Branch out of David’s roots (Isaiah 11:1). But as applied to Jesus by His enemies, it was a term of reproach — a term, however, which the early Christians readily appropriated and gloried in (Acts 24:5). — Ironside, page 23.

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