Matthew 2:23. He dwelt in a city called Nazareth Where he had formerly resided before he went to Bethlehem. Nazareth, as appears from Luke 4:29, was built upon a rock, not far from mount Tabor. The country about it, according to Antoninus the martyr, was like a paradise, abounding in wheat and fruits of all kinds. Wine, oil, and honey, of the best kind, were produced there: but it was a place so very contemptible among the Jews, that it was grown into a proverb with them, That no good thing could be expected from thence; so that by Jesus’s returning to Nazareth, and being brought up and educated in it, a way was further opened by the providence of God, for the fulfilment of the many Scriptures which foretold that he should appear in mean and despicable circumstances, and be set up as a mark of public contempt and reproach. This seems to be the most probable solution of this difficult text. He shall be called a Nazarene That is, he shall be reputed vile and abject, and shall be despised and rejected of men, an event which many of the prophets had particularly foretold. And it is to be observed, that St. Matthew does not cite any particular prophet for these words, as he had done before, Matthew 1:22; and here, Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17, and in other places, but only says, this was spoken by the prophets, viz., in general, whereby, as Jerome observes, he shows that he took not the words from the prophets, but only the sense. See Psalms 69:9-10; Isaiah 53:3. Now it is certain the Nazarene was a term of contempt and infamy put upon Christ, both by the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, and that because he was supposed to come out of this very city. There was, among the Jews, a celebrated thief, called Ben-Nezer, and in allusion to him, they gave the name to Christ. His very going to dwell at Nazareth, was an occasion of his being despised and rejected by the Jews. Thus, when Philip said to Nathanael, We have found Jesus of Nazareth, of whom Moses spake, Nathanael answered, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? And when Nicodemus seemed to favour him, the rest of the council said to him, Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. Here then we have a plain sense of these words. He was sent to this contemptible place that he might there have a name of infamy and contempt put upon him, according to the frequent intimations of the prophets. If, after all, this interpretation is not acquiesced in, we may, with many of the ancient Christians, particularly Chrysostom, suppose, that the evangelist may refer to some writings of the prophets, which were then extant, but are now lost, or to some writings not put into the Sacred Canon, or to some paraphrases upon the writings. As to the interpretations which refer this to Christ’s being called Netzer, the Branch, Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; or Nazir, one Separated, or, the Holy One, they all fail in this, that they give no account how this was fulfilled by Christ’s living at Nazareth, he being as much the Branch, the Holy One, when he was born at Bethlehem, and before he went to Nazareth, as after.
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