I've never known quite what to make of this but after thinking it over I find myself leaning towards the idea that the word Nazarene pertains to the Hebrew word netzer (branch) and its synonym tsemach, as found in Is. 11:1 and Zech. 6:12:... and he [Jesus] went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch [netzer] will bear fruit.
Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch [tsemach], and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.
I find myself in agreement wit these excerpts from this messianic apologetics website:
This is a great point, especially regarding James 4:5. This explains why Matthew says "prophets," i.e., he is speaking in a general sense like James 4:5 (" Scripture says"). There must be something in more than one prophet that gives Matthew the impression that Jesus (or the Messiah) would be "called a Nazarene."Matthew 2:23 records that Yeshua the Messiah “came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene.” The challenge for some interpreters is the fact that no specific text is being quoted. This is not unusual to see in the Apostolic Scriptures by any means. Yeshua Himself says in Matthew 26:54, “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” Here, the Messiah is speaking of the general sense or meaning of the Tanach, not necessarily a specific verse. James 4:5 also says, for example, “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?” Here, James appeals to the general sense of Scripture from the Tanach, rather than a specific verse or prophecy.
The website goes on to discuss the possibility that Nazarene could also relate to the word Nazirite (which I will get to in another post) and then discusses the netzer angle:
Indeed, these words are used this way in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as noted in The Blackwell Companion to Jesus:A second, and more commonly proposed view espoused by many Messianics is that Matthew is making some kind of word play on netzer, meaning “sprout, shoot (of plant)” (CHALOT), or by extension “branch” ... It is commonly connected to prophecies such as Isaiah 11:1:
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch [netzer] from his roots will bear fruit” ...
One of the challenges with holding exclusively to this view, though, is the fact that other Messianic prophecies applying to Yeshua employ the Hebrew term tzemach for “branch”:
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch [tzemach]; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).
“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch [tzemach] of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth” (Jeremiah 33:15).
“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 [tzemach]” (Zechariah 3:8).
“Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch [tzemach], for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD” (Zechariah 6:12).
We can certainly consider the words netzer and tzemach to be synonyms, as the latter likewise means “growth, what sprouts,” “shoot, bud” (CHALOT). This would account for Matthew’s reference to “the prophets,” as opposed to a singular prophet (cf. Isaiah 11:1).
Again, this would explain why Matthew says "the prophets" and "he would be called a Nazarene," since that is what Zech. 6:12 says about the tsemach, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch."Although the Hebrew words for "branch" are different in Isaiah (netzer) and Zechariah (tzamah), by the first century the words are used as equivalent terms, as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The community of Qumran looks to a future son of David and applies to him the term "branch": "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch (netzer) shall grow out of his roots" (Isa. 11:1). The quotation from Isaiah follows the Hebrew text and uses netzer (branch), but, in the commentary immediately following, the netzer is rendered, "the shoot (tzamah) of David," using the term for "branch" from Zechariah 6:12 (4Q161 [4QpIsa(a) line 11] in Garcia Martinez and Tigchelaar 1997 1:316). These texts show that, by the time of the Qumran writings, the two terms tzamah and netzer are synonymous and the roles of both have become fused. The man named "Branch" who will build the Temple of the Lord, according to Zechariah 6, has been identified as the Messianic shoot of David, the netzer.
https://books.google.com/books?id=te96A ... an&f=false
And I think Matthew is connecting this concept of the messianic netzer/tsemach with Nazareth, given the similarity in spelling as per the Caesarea inscription that Ben mentioned in another thread (where Nazareth is spelled with a tsade like netzer), the same way he connects Bethlehem with Michah 5:2-4 in 2:3-6:
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Note how in this instance he says "prophet" instead of the more general "prophets" and how the citation is tied to the Messiah. Would it not make more sense for Mt. 2:23 to also pertain to the Messiah (i.e., the netzer/tsemach), rather than only about where Jesus was from? And since in my view Matthew was originally written in Hebrew (as per Papias), he would have noticed the similarity in spelling between netzer and Nazareth (if spelled with a tsade like netzer in the Caesarea inscription). And for what it may be worth, Jesus and Christians are also called Notzrim (with a tsade like netzer) in the Talmud. This would make it immaterial how Nazareth is spelled in the Greek Matthew, being that it is (in my view) merely how the translator chose to spell it in Greek.
And I think this would more aptly explain why Paul was accused of being "a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect" in Acts 24:5, which sounds to me like it pertains to messianism rather than merely to where Jesus was from (or to Naziritism).