Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth. Chance happening? Coincidence? I think not! Scripture foretold it!
14 A wise person stores up knowledge…
About a hundred years before the birth of Christ, the royal family of David left Babylon and moved to Israel. Possibly because of political reasons, they settled in Nazareth, which is far away (to them) from Jerusalem. The distance is about 64 miles, or 91 miles by the sea route if one doesn’t want to go through Samaria or walk through mountains. Matthew’s comment about Jesus being a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23 probably refers to Jesus coming from the city of the Branch (the meaning of the word, “Nazareth,” and explained later).
There are two genealogies given in the New Testament: the first is found in Matthew 1:1-17, and the other in Luke 3:23-37. I have read good arguments on both sides of which one is Joseph’s and which one is Mary’s. The point is that both Joseph and Mary were from David and Bathsheba, one from Solomon and the other from Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5).
Why is Nazareth famous?
Nazareth is famous for one thing, and one thing only: it is the home town of Jesus.
It was here that Jesus spent his boyhood, living with his mother and father, and here that he faced the skeptical townsfolk of Nazareth.
The village seems to have been held in some contempt in 1st century Palestine. It was a nondescript dot on the map with not much to offer, overshadowed by nearby Sepphoris, the luxurious Greek-style capital of Herod Antipas. It is beguiling to think that Joseph and Jesus, as builders, may have traipsed over to Sepphoris to work on the new buildings. [Sepphoris, also known as Zippori, was 3.5 miles NW of Nazareth]
Bible study resource: ancient Nazareth
- Nazareth lay in the hills twelve miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee: fertile land.
- Excavations show just how small it actually was – but every bit of space was used effectively. It was built on porous rock, so as well as the buildings above the surface there were underground cisterns for water, vats for oil, and silos for grain. There was a single, ancient spring for water.
- It was a conservative town, clinging to traditional Jewish culture in a world that had been radically affected by Greek thought and culture.
- It had a population of about 400, so everyone knew everyone else. The people were physically robust, strong-minded, practical, respectful of traditional and loyal to family.
- They spoke Aramaic, a language with a strong poetic tradition. Being able to talk well was a valued skill.
- Young Jewish men were expected to be literate. The Jewish queen Salome Alexandra had made reading and writing compulsory for all Jewish boys – for study of the Torah.
Although the Christmas tree has pagan origins, Christians have embraced its beauty for centuries as an important centerpiece of Christmas décor. I suggest that the Christmas tree branch should stir us most. Why is that?
Although we associate Christmas with Bethlehem, our Lord was conceived and reared in the small village of Nazareth in Israel’s northern province, Galilee. This is where Mary and Joseph grew up and lived. This is where an angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would mother the Messiah. This is where Joseph received a vision in a dream, assuring him that Mary truly had conceived while yet a virgin. The espoused couple travelled to the original city of David, Bethlehem, leaving what might be called the new village of David’s heirs, Nazareth.
A number of authorities have postulated that the name “Nazareth” was derived from the Hebrew word for “branch,” netzer. Paul Wallace (John’s Rabbi) writes,
When the Scriptures tell us that Jesus was a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), they [are referring to]…the family line of David. Isaiah 11:1 predicts the coming of the Messiah. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch (netzer) will bear fruit.”Ed Vasicek Nazareth and the Royal Line
Why is knowing important? Consider this: I can hold whatever opinion I want about a person or event as long as I don’t get to know the person or study the event. But, once I do, my opinion may be influenced by personal knowledge. The leaders in Capernaum are a case in point (Luke 7:1-10) in how they regarded the Roman Centurion in their town. As we learn about Nazareth and its area, we are learning about the places where Jesus spent most of His time and a large portion of His ministry. Context is important. We will continue our research on Nazareth tomorrow.
Abba, thank You for the people who have put in the time and resources to make known to us information about You and where You grew up as Jesus. I see that every detail of Your Advent was carefully planned. Your Coming was important to You because You were coming to get us back! It’s important to us because You want us with You! I find great security in knowing that You want me, Lord. May I enjoy the Fellowship of the Trinity today as we walk together. Amen.