|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:19-23 Egypt may serve to sojourn in, or take shelter in, for awhile, but not to abide in. Christ was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to them he must return. Did we but look upon the world as our Egypt, the place of our bondage and banishment, and heaven only as our Canaan, our home, our rest, we should as readily arise and depart thither, when we are called for, as Joseph did out of Egypt. The family must settle in Galilee. Nazareth was a place held in bad esteem, and Christ was crucified with this accusation, Jesus the Nazarene. Wherever Providence allots the bounds of our habitation, we must expect to share the reproach of Christ; yet we may glory in being called by his name, sure that if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him.
Verse 23. - And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. En-Nasira, now of from five thousand to six thousand souls, in the hills on the northern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, not mentioned in the Old Testament or by Josephus. "Nazareth is a rose, and, like a rose, has the same rounded form, enclosed by mountains as the flower by its leaves" (Quaresimus, in Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 365). Observe the (:) in the Revised Version, showing that the following "fulfilment" is not to be considered as part of Joseph's intention. Dwelt; settled down after the exile life (cf Acts 7:4). That (ὅπως). The purpose lay in the Divine overruling of Joseph's action, ὄπως with πληρωθῇ, Matthew 8:17 and Matthew 13:35 only. In each case it is used with reference to general statements, i.e. it marks a less close connection than that implied by ἵνα. It might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets. He shall be called (Revised Version, that he should be called; ὅτι κληθήσεται; cf. also the Geneva) a Nazarene. The Revised Version expresses the fact that the quotation is not of words, but of substance, for although the recitative ὅτι is found in St. Matthew (Matthew 7:23; Matthew 9:18; Matthew 14:26; Matthew 27:43, 47) and even before verbal citations from Scripture after γέγραπται (Matthew 4:6) and ἀνέγνωετε (Matthew 21:16, contrast 42), yet it does not occur after the formula τὸ ῤηθέν κ.τ.λ. By the prophets. Not "in the prophets" (Acts 13:40), which might have preferred (yet cf. Hebrews 1:1) only to the book containing their writings, and then would not in itself have implied more than one passage there. The present phrase (διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) suggests personality rather than writing, and implies either that two or more prophets were the agents by whom the words were spoken, or, better, that in some way the whole company of the prophets (cf. Acts 3:25; Hebrews 1:1) spoke the message now summarized. In this way the phrase will indicate that even if the following words are found in the utterances of only one prophet, they also represent a phase of teaching common to all. A Nazarene. Those interpretations which connect this with נזר (nzr) ,
(1) in the sense of "separated" (Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'),
(a) generally (cf. Psalm 69:7);
(b) specifically as "Nazarite" (נזיר, Ναζηραῖος, so Tyndale to Rheims); or
(2) in the sense of "diadem" (נֵזֶר, "Zu Cronberg [נזרת] hat der Gekronte gewohnet," Bengel); are inadmissible in the light of the fact that, in Jewish writings, both "Nazareth" (נַצְרָת, Neub., 'Geogr.,' p. 190) and "Nazarene" (נוצרי) are from נצר (ntsr). Thus the reference to the prophets requires that they speak of Messiah by some term belonging to this root, and not to נזר (nzr). What this term is may be gathered from the true text of Talm. Bab., 'Sanh.,' 43a (cf. 'Levy,' s.v. נצר, and for the passage in full, Rabbinowicz, 'Var. Leer.'), where, after enumerating five disciples of Jesus the Nazarene (ישו הנוצרי), among them Netzer, a summary is given of their trial and condemnation. Of Netzer it is said, "They brought Netzer up for trial. He said to the judges, Shall Netzer be slain? It is written, 'A branch (netzer, נצר) out of his roots shall bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).'They answered him, Yea, Netzer shall be slain. For it is written, 'But thou art cast forth away from thy sepulchre like an abominable branch'" (netzer, Isaiah 14:19). It does not now concern us to inquire which, if any, of the twelve disciples is here spoken of by the name of Netzer. But it is evident that the Jews
(1) connected this name closely with Jesus the Nazarene just before mentioned, and
(2) saw a connexion between it and "the Branch" of Isaiah 11:1. True that they rejected the disciple's application of the passage, but they did not reject the identity of the expressions. The application which was made, even according to the Talmud, is fully expressed by the evangelist here. There, as we may see if we read between the lines, the disciple claimed for his Christianity that it corresponded to the promise of Isaiah; here the evangelist more definitely claims a correspondence between that promise and Jesus. He is not concerned with deeper points of similarity, though they could not fail to suggest themselves both to him and to his readers, but merely notices that the very dwelling-place of Jesus answers to the promise of Messiah. Netzer he was to be; the Divine working brought it about that this, though in adjectival form, was his common appellation. Observe that
(1) to netzer in Isaiah 11:1 the word tsemah, corresponds in Jeremiah 23:5 and Zechariah 3:8;
(2) the fulfilment consists, not in carrying out a definite statement to its logical issue in history, but in the existence of a strange correspondence which implies Divine foresight and arrangement. Why Joseph settled at Nazareth rather than at any other spot in Galilee, St. Matthew gives no hint. The reason is found in the fact recorded by St. Luke that Mary (Luke 1:26) and Joseph (Luke 2:4) had lived there before the Birth. It is true that St. Matthew's account taken alone gives the impression that this was not the case, but the impression is not so strong as to warrant even the assertion that St. Matthew was ignorant of the earlier residence, much less that his account in fact contradicts St. Luke's. The mutual independence and the general trustworthiness of the two accounts of the Birth and Infancy is shown by the fact that in their less important details they cannot always be reconciled. (On our present difficulties in arranging the events recorded in Matthew 1:2 and Luke 1:2, cf. Ellicott, 'Lects.,' p. 70; Godet, 'Luke,' transl., 1. pp. 153-156.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth,.... Which was a city of Galilee, and where Joseph and Mary had both dwelt before, Luke 1:26 here they came and fixed their habitation,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. This affair of going into Galilee, and settling at Nazareth, was brought about with this view, to accomplish what had been foretold by the prophets, or prophet, the plural number being used for the singular, as in John 6:45. And indeed it is so rendered here in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; and designs the prophet Isaiah, and respects that prophecy of his in Isaiah 11:1 "and there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and "a branch shall grow out of his roots"; a prophecy owned by the Jews (e) themselves to belong to the Messiah, and which was now fulfilled in Jesus; who as he was descended from Jesse's family, so by dwelling at Nazareth, he would appear to be, and would be "called a Nazarene, or Netzer, the branch"; being an inhabitant of Natzareth, or Netzer, so called from the multitude of plants and trees that grew there.
A Nazarene, as David de Pomis says (f),
"is one that is born in the city Netzer, which is said to be in the land of Galilee, three days journey distant from Jerusalem.''
Now though Christ was not born, yet because he dwelt at Nazareth, and was educated there; hence the Jews frequently call him , "Jesus, the Nazarene (g)"; and sometimes only "the Nazarene" (h). They also design him by , "Ben Netzer" (i), of whom they say a great many evil things: and that Christ is often called Jesus of Nazareth, or the Nazarene, and his followers Nazarenes, from the place of his habitation, is known to everyone. One of Christ's disciples is called Netzer in the Talmud (k), and made to plead for his life, because his name signified a branch, according to Isaiah 11:1. Surenhusius observes (l), that the form "to fulfil what is said", used by the Talmudists, and which he takes to be the same with this here, is used by them, when they allege not the very words of Moses, or the prophets, but their sense, which is deduced as a certain axiom from them; and thinks it is applicable to the present case.
(e) Targum, Jarchi, Aben Ezra & Kimchi in loc. (f) Lexic Heb. fol. 141. 2.((g) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 17. 1. Ganz. par. 2. fol. 14. 2. Abarbinel in Dan. fol. 44. 1.((h) Ganz. par. 1. fol. 24. 2.((i) T. Bab. Cetuboth, fol. 51. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Bereshith Rabba, fol. 67. 2. Abarbinel in Dau. fol. 44. 1.((k) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. 1.((l) Biblos Katallages, p, 2, 3, 4, 197, &c.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth—a small town in Lower Galilee, lying in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun, and about equally distant from the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Sea of Galilee on the east. Note—If, from Lu 2:39, one would conclude that the parents of Jesus brought Him straight back to Nazareth after His presentation in the temple—as if there had been no visit of the Magi, no flight to Egypt, no stay there, and no purpose on returning to settle again at Bethlehem—one might, from our Evangelist's way of speaking here, equally conclude that the parents of our Lord had never been at Nazareth until now. Did we know exactly the sources from which the matter of each of the Gospels was drawn up, or the mode in which these were used, this apparent discrepancy would probably disappear at once. In neither case is there any inaccuracy. At the same time it is difficult, with these facts before us, to conceive that either of these two Evangelists wrote his Gospel with that of the other before him—though many think this a precarious inference.
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene—better, perhaps, "Nazarene." The best explanation of the origin of this name appears to be that which traces it to the word netzer in Isa 11:1—the small twig, sprout, or sucker, which the prophet there says, "shall come forth from the stem (or rather, 'stump') of Jesse, the branch which should fructify from his roots." The little town of Nazareth, mentioned neither in the Old Testament nor in Josephus, was probably so called from its insignificance: a weak twig in contrast to a stately tree; and a special contempt seemed to rest upon it—"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Joh 1:46)—over and above the general contempt in which all Galilee was held, from the number of Gentiles that settled in the upper territories of it, and, in the estimation of the Jews, debased it. Thus, in the providential arrangement by which our Lord was brought up at the insignificant and opprobrious town called Nazareth, there was involved, first, a local humiliation; next, an allusion to Isaiah's prediction of His lowly, twig-like upspringing from the branchless, dried-up stump of Jesse; and yet further, a standing memorial of that humiliation which "the prophets," in a number of the most striking predictions, had attached to the Messiah.
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