An epithet applied to Christ, and usually translated "of Nazareth," as in Mt 21:11; Ac 2:22; 4:10. It was foretold in prophecy, Ps 22:7-8; Isa 53:2, that the Messiah should be despised and rejected of men; and this epithet, which came to be used as a term of reproach, showed the truth of these predictions, Mt 2:23; Ac 24:5. Nazareth was a small town, in a despised part of Palestine. See GALILEE, and NAZARETH.
This epithet (Gr. Nazaraios) is applied to Christ only once (Mt 2:23). In all other cases the word is rendered "of Nazareth" (Mr 1:24; 10:47; 14:67, etc.). When this Greek designation was at first applied to our Lord, it was meant simply to denote the place of his residence. In course of time the word became a term of reproach. Thus the word "Nazarene" carries with it an allusion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as "despised of men" (Isa 53:3). Some, however, think that in this name there is an allusion to the Hebrew netser, which signifies a branch or sprout. It is so applied to the Messiah (Isa 11:1), i.e., he whom the prophets called the Netse, the "Branch."
The followers of Christ were called "the sect of Nazarenes" (Ac 24:5). All over Palestine and Syria this name is still given to Christians. (See Nazareth.)
Matthew, Mt 2:23, writes "Jesus came and dwelt in Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene"; not "by the prophet," but "by the prophets," meaning no particular quotation but the general description of Messiah in them as abject and despised (Isa 53:2-3). The Nazarene people were proverbially so. "Called," as in Isa 9:6, expresses what He should be in His earthly manifestation; not that the prophets gave Him the literal name, though His contemporaries did. Matthew plays on similar sounds, as Micah on Achzib (Mic 1:14) and Ekron (Mic 2:4). The "Nazarene dweller" (Natsri) was, as all the prophets foretold, a "pain sufferer" (natsari from the Aramaic tsear, "pain"); the Aramaeans pronounced the Hebrew "a" as "o," from whence arose the Greek form Nazoraios.
(Biesenthal, Jewish Intelligence, December, 1874). The nickname "Nazarene" agreed with His foretold character as: (1) despised in man's eyes, (2) really glorious. Men in applying the name unconsciously and in spite of themselves shed glory on Him; for Nazarene is related to neetser, a "branch," Messiah's distinctive title, indicating His descent from royal David yet His lowly state (Isa 11:1); the same thought and image appear in the term tsemach (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12). Also Naziraios, applied to a Nazarite by vow in Old Testament (from the Hebrew root nezer "dedication," "the high priest's mitre," and "sovereignty"), indirectly refers to Christ under His New Testament distinct designation "Nazarene" and Nazoraios, i.e. belonging to Nazarene.
Samson the Nazarite, "separated" or "dedicated unto God," typically foreshadowed Him (Jg 13:5; 16:30), separated as holy unto God, and separated as an "alien" outcast by men (Ps 69:8). Though the reverse of a Nazarite in its outward rules (Mt 11:18), He antitypically fulfilled the spirit of the Nazarite vow and ritual. Had the prophets expressly foretold He should be of Nazareth, it would not have been so despised; nor would the Pharisees, who were able from Micah 5 to tell Herod where Messiah's birthplace was - Bethlehem (Matthew 2) - have been so ignorant of the prophecy of His connection with Nazareth as to say, "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (Joh 7:52). (See NAZARITE; NAZARETH.)
A title applied to Christ in Mt 2:23, apparently as a quotation from a phrophecy. Its signification is a matter of controversy. Apart from the primary meaning of the word, 'an inhabitant of Nazareth,' there may have been, as is often the case in prophetic quotations, a secondary meaning in allusion to the Heb. word n
A native of Nazareth. Joseph and Mary, when they returned from Egypt, went to reside at Nazareth, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." These words are not found in the O.T., but the thought conveyed by them is in the prophets generally, that the Messiah would be despised and reproached: cf. Ps. 69; Isa. 53; etc. His disciples suffered the same reproach: Paul had to hear himself called "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." Mt 2:23; Ac 24:5. Christians in some parts of Palestine are still called Nazarenes.
an inhabitant of Nazareth. This appellative is applied to,Jesus in many passages in the New Testament. This name, made striking in so many ways, and which, if first given in scorn, was adopted and gloried in by the disciples, we are told in
possesses a prophetic significance. Its application to Jesus, in consequence of the providential arrangements by which his Parents were led to take up their abode in Nazareth, was the filling out of the predictions in which the promised Messiah is described as a netser i.e. a shoot, sprout, of Jesse, a humble and despised descendant of the decayed royal family. Once,
the term Nazarenes is applied to the followers of Jesus by way of contempt. The name still exists in Arabic as the ordinary designation of Christians.