Matthew 2:23

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John2
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Matthew 2:23

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:23 pm

I've been thinking about Mt. 2:23.
... 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.
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:
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:
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.

http://messianicapologetics.net/archives/11043
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."

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:
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).
Indeed, these words are used this way in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as noted in The Blackwell Companion to Jesus:
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
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."

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).
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John2
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:08 pm

In the surviving pre-censorship Talmud manuscripts, Yeshu is followed by the epithet Ha-Notzri in most occurrences. R. Travers Herford, Joseph Klausner and others translated it as "the Nazarene." The term does not appear consistently in the manuscripts and Menachem Meiri (1249 – c. 1310) in his commentary on the Talmud Beit HaBechirah regarded it as a late interpolation.

Klausner noted objections by other scholars on grammatical and phonetic grounds to the translation of Notzri as "Nazarene" meaning a person from Nazareth (Hebrew Natzrat), however the etymology of "Nazarene" is itself uncertain and one possibility is that it is derived from Notzri and did not mean a person from Nazareth.

In 1180 CE Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:4 briefly discusses Jesus in a passage later censored by the Church. He uses the name Yeshua for Jesus (an attested equivalent of the name unlike Yeshu) and follows it with HaNotzri showing that regardless of what meaning had been intended in the Talmudic occurrences of this term, Maimonides understood it as an equivalent of Nazarene. Late additions to the Josippon also refer to Jesus as Yeshua HaNotzri but not Yeshu HaNotzri.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeshu#Yeshu_Ha-Notzri
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:27 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:23 pm
Note how in this instance he says "prophet" instead of the more general "prophets" and how the citation is tied to the Messiah.
Good post, John. I imagine the Branch/Shoot prophesies may well figure into the picture, particularly after Nazareth (with its tsade) was filled in as the background for the term Nazarene.

It seems possible to me that another passage might also be in mind:

Judges 13.2-5: 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite [ναζιρ/ναζιραῖον, נָזִיר] to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

The striking thing here is that an angel is announcing a miraculous birth (given that Manoah's wife is barren), just as an angel announced a miraculous birth to Mary. It is not without reason that many interpreters think that this is one of the passages lying behind the Matthean infancy narrative as a whole. The term Nazirite bears a zayin, which more naturally leads to a Greek zeta (as in the term Nazarene) than the tsade in Nazareth (which one might spell more Hebraically as Natsareth or Natzareth).

If you and I are both right, then "the prophets" triangulated (to Matthew's mind, anyway) a set of Naz- terms for the Messiah: Natsareth, Netser, and Nazirite. Natsareth and Netser are strained when it comes to that tsade becoming a zeta, while Nazirite is strained when it comes to describing Jesus as he appears in the gospels (eating and drinking and not being very Nazirite).
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:51 pm

Lizorkin-Eyzenberg writes in an article on in Israel Bible Weekly Magazine:
In Matthew 2:23 we learn that Jesus’ family settled in the small town of Nazareth, “in order that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, that he should be called a Nazarene.” This prophecy, however, appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Is Matthew guilty of inventing a messianic text? Absolutely not – he is simply employing a Jewish hermeneutical technique called “Midrash.” The key to interpreting this statement lies in recognizing a wordplay between “Nazareth” Ναζαρέτ (nazaret) and “Nazarene” Ναζωραίος (nazoraios).

The wordplay is based on Isaiah 11:1 and the Hebrew word נצר (netzer) meaning, “branch” or “shoot.” The word occurs only here, but its messianic significance is well attested to in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 4Q161, the pesher commentary on Isaiah 11:1-5, we encounter a reference to the Davidic branch whom God will raise up in the last days to deliver the faithful and rule over the nations: “[Interpreted, this concerns the Branch] of David who shall arise at the end [of days] …”

But what does “Nazareth” or “Nazarene” have to with נצר (netzer) – “the branch”? Although the name seems so familiar to us, “Nazareth” should actually be spelled “Natzeret.” The English spelling is a transliteration of the Greek word Ναζαρέτ (nazaret), which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew word נצרת (natzeret)…

https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/a- ... rom-david/
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:10 pm

RT France pointed out that Matthew gives Nazorean as Ναζωραῖος which is similar to what the Septuagint has for "Nazirite" - ναζιραιον
  • France, RT. The Gospel of Matthew, pp. 92-93.
And, Nazirite/Nazarite, which comes from nazir (which, in turn, comes from net.ser), can mean (i) under a vow; (ii) consecrated; (iii) vow of 'separation'; or (iv) crowned eg. Judges 13:1-7

And ne.tser (etc) = a branch; a shoot; a descendant http://biblehub.com/hebrew/5342.htm

As John2 has pointed out, there is a major messianic link with netser in Isaiah 11:1

Natzeret = ne.tser (or a variant) plus the feminine ending, designated by the letter Tav

and Nazeroth is the feminine-plural


Apparently, technically we should not use a letter "z" in "Nazarene" because the letter is a tsade - צ - with a "ts" sound

cf. the word 'nazir' which uses a zayin (z).

eta, from further down this page -
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:21 pm
This is true for transcribing the Hebrew place name, but Nazareth is fine for transcribing the Greek place name, since it has a zeta, which comes out in English as a zee/zed virtually every time.

There are also references to linguistic discrepancies due "a peculiarity of the 'Palestinian' Aramaic dialect wherein a sade (ṣ) (tsade) between two voiced (sonant) consonants tended to be partially assimilated by taking on a zayin (z) sound" -
  • Carruth, S; Robinson, J McC; Heil, C. (1996) Q 4:1–13,16: the temptations of Jesus : Nazara. Peeters Publishers. p 415.



And 'na·ṣar'/natsar/ - נָצַר - means "to watch" (c.f. 'netser', said to mean "branch");

hence 'Natsarith' means watchtower, and 'Natsarim' are 'watchmen'

Nazareth is in a small basin on a hill/range (and from a nearly ridge apparently one can look out over plains towards the Sea of Galilee)

There is also a view there is a passive meaning of 'preserved, protected' in reference to its secluded position -
  • RH Mounce, "Nazareth", in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, GW Bromiley (ed), Vol 3: Eerdmans, 1986; pp 500–1
The word "Gennetsaret" ('vale of Netsar') is said to refer to the whole district.
Last edited by MrMacSon on Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

John2
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:19 pm

Ben wrote:
If you and I are both right, then "the prophets" triangulated (to Matthew's mind, anyway) a set of Naz- terms for the Messiah: Natsareth, Netser, and Nazirite. Natsareth and Netser are strained when it comes to that tsade becoming a zeta, while Nazirite is strained when it comes to describing Jesus as he appears in the gospels (eating and drinking and not being very Nazirite).
Here is what the above messianic apologetics website says about the term nazir and Judges 13:
What is likely being communicated by Matthew is some kind of word play on the terms nazir, primarily meaning “(s.one) dedicated, consecrated” (CHALOT),[1] by extension “a nazirite,” and the word “Nazarene” (Grk. Nazōraios), meaning someone from the city of Nazareth. An adequate description of a nazirite is given to us in Judges 13:7, where Samson’s mother is told how her son is to live:

“But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”

The Hebrew ki-nezir Elohim yihyeh was rendered two different ways in the Greek Septuagint, both of which would have been extant in the First Century. The LXX(a) version has naziraion Theou or “nazirite of God,” whereas the LXX(b) version has hagion Theou, “holy to God” (LXE). As Tim Hegg notes, “This tells us that from a very early period, well before the 1st Century, the idea of ‘holy one of God’ and ‘Nazirite of God’ were linked through the concurrent translations of Judges into Greek.”[2] One did not necessarily have to take a “nazirite vow” to be considered a holy person, which there is no record of Yeshua ever doing. In Mark 1:23-24 we see Yeshua being Nazarēne (adjective) or “of Nazareth” connected to His holiness:

“Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Yeshua of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’”

Matthew, seeing this concept referred to in Mark’s Gospel, whose audience was largely Roman and would have overlooked any connection between “Nazareth” and “Holy One,” is likely expounding upon this for his Jewish audience, possibly using additional source material (probably from what most scholars call “Q”). His Jewish audience would have been familiar with the terms nazir, or the Septuagint renderings of naziraion Theou or hagion Theou. Matthew’s emphasis, more than anything else, is to connect the concept of Yeshua being a Nazarene to His holiness. Notably, one does not necessarily have to take a “nazirite vow” to be considered holy, though as Hegg notes, “Yeshua’s words at the last Pesach [Passover], that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He came into His kingdom, are reminiscent of the Nazirite prohibition against eating or drinking anything from the vine. The same may be said of Yeshua’s refusal to accept the wine while on the cross.”[3]
I think maybe both netzer and nazir could right as well, as you say, despite the differences in spelling. At first I was thinking that Jesus is 'clearly" not a Nazirite in the gospels, but after taking a closer look at the issue, it does not appear to me that jesus drinks wine in the gospels. Talks about it and commands his disciples to drink it, yes, but he doesn't seem to drink it himself, not even in Mk. 15:23 or 15:36:
23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
36Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.


Se, it doesn't say in either case that Jesus drank wine (not even the second time, as seems to be commonly supposed). And he also doesn't touch any dead people, which Nazirites are also not supposed to do. Regarding Jairus' daughter in k 5:35-39, it says:
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” ... Jesus says, "“Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”
And Mk. 9:26-27 says:
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
So this boy wasn't dead either, only possessed. Are there any examples from Mark or Matthew in which Jesus touches an actual corpse? I can't think of any offhand, nor any instance where Jesus himself drinks wine. So maybe he was a Nazirite after all (like James is described as being in Hegesippus), in keeping with the OT nazir passages.
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:21 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:10 pm
Apparently, technically we should not use a letter "z" in "Nazarene" because the letter is a tsade - צ - with a "ts" sound
This is true for transcribing the Hebrew place name, but Nazareth is fine for transcribing the Greek place name, since it has a zeta, which comes out in English as a zee/zed virtually every time.
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:25 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:51 pm

Lizorkin-Eyzenberg writes in an article on in Israel Bible Weekly Magazine:
In Matthew 2:23 we learn that Jesus’ family settled in the small town of Nazareth, “in order that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, that he should be called a Nazarene.” This prophecy, however, appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible.

https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/a- ... rom-david/
I think the narrators have turned around what really happened. I think the place was named Ναζαρέτ to root Jesus the Nazorean/ Ναζωραῖος /Nazarene somewhere.

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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:26 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:19 pm
So this boy wasn't dead either, only possessed. Are there any examples from Mark or Matthew in which Jesus touches an actual corpse? I can't think of any offhand, nor any instance where Jesus himself drinks wine. So maybe he was a Nazirite after all (like James is described as being in Hegesippus), in keeping with the OT nazir passages.
I am not sure we are supposed to understand Jairus' daughter as literally asleep. I think she is dead, and Jesus is playing with words.

The son of man is said to have come eating and drinking in Matthew 11.19 = Luke 7.34. The contrast with John, who came neither eating nor drinking, must mean that it is the kind of food or drink that is at issue. What kind of drink do you suppose John abstained from but Jesus indulged in, assuming he is the "son of man" being referred to?
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Re: Matthew 2:23

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:26 pm

Even in Luke 7:33-35, does Jesus really drink wine?
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
The Pharisees "say" that John had a demon, but that doesn't mean that he actually did. They just thought he did because he didn't eat bread or drink wine. And they "say" that "here is a glutton and drunkard" because Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners, but it doesn't say that he drank wine. They appear to me to think this because of the people he was eating and drinking with, and it doesn't say that he drank wine with them, just ate and drank.
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