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Easton's Bible Dictionary

 

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Nazareth
        separated, generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew
        _netser_, a "shoot" or "sprout." Some, however, think that the
        name of the city must be connected with the name of the hill
        behind it, from which one of the finest prospects in Israel
        is obtained, and accordingly they derive it from the Hebrew
        _notserah_, i.e., one guarding or watching, thus designating the
        hill which overlooks and thus guards an extensive region.
        This city is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was the
        home of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:39), and here the angel
        announced to the Virgin the birth of the Messiah (1:26-28). Here
        Jesus grew up from his infancy to manhood (4:16); and here he
        began his public ministry in the synagogue (Matt. 13:54), at
        which the people were so offended that they sought to cast him
        down from the precipice whereon their city was built (Luke
        4:29). Twice they expelled him from their borders (4:16-29;
        Matt. 13:54-58); and he finally retired from the city, where he
        did not many mighty works because of their unbelief (Matt.
        13:58), and took up his residence in Capernaum.
        Nazareth is situated among the southern ridges of Lebanon, on
        the steep slope of a hill, about 14 miles from the Sea of
        Galilee and about 6 west from Mount Tabor. It is identified with
        the modern village en-Nazirah, of six or ten thousand
        inhabitants. It lies "as in a hollow cup" lower down upon the
        hill than the ancient city. The main road for traffic between
        Egypt and the interior of Asia passed by Nazareth near the foot
        of Tabor, and thence northward to Damascus.
        It is supposed from the words of Nathanael in John 1:46 that
        the city of Nazareth was held in great disrepute, either
        because, it is said, the people of Galilee were a rude and less
        cultivated class, and were largely influenced by the Gentiles
        who mingled with them, or because of their lower type of moral
        and religious character. But there seems to be no sufficient
        reason for these suppositions. The Jews believed that, according
        to Micah 5:2, the birth of the Messiah would take place at
        Bethlehem, and nowhere else. Nathanael held the same opinion as
        his countrymen, and believed that the great "good" which they
        were all expecting could not come from Nazareth. This is
        probably what Nathanael meant. Moreover, there does not seem to
        be any evidence that the inhabitants of Galilee were in any
        respect inferior, or that a Galilean was held in contempt, in
        the time of our Lord. (See Dr. Merrill's Galilee in the Time of
        Christ.)
        The population of this city (now about 10,000) in the time of
        Christ probably amounted to 15,000 or 20,000 souls.
        "The so-called 'Holy House' is a cave under the Latin church,
        which appears to have been originally a tank. The 'brow of the
        hill', site of the attempted precipitation, is probably the
        northern cliff: the traditional site has been shown since the
        middle ages at some distance to the south. None of the
        traditional sites are traceable very early, and they have no
        authority. The name Nazareth perhaps means 'a watch tower' (now
        en-Nasrah), but is connected in the New Testament with Netzer,
        'a branch' (Isa. 4:2; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8; 6:12; Matt. 2:23),
        Nazarene being quite a different word from Nazarite."

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Nazareth' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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