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Cities of Ancient Israel





Nazareth

E5 on the Map.

Nazareth in Smiths Bible Dictionary. (the guarded one) the ordinary residence of our Saviour, is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but occurs first in Mt 2:23 It derives its celebrity from its connection with the history of Christ, and in that respect has a hold on the imagination and feelings of men which it shares only with Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It is situated among the hills which constitute the south ridges of Lebanon,just before they sink down into the plain of Esdraelon, (Mr. Merrill, in "Galilee in the Time of Christ" (1881), represents Nazareth in Christ's time as a city (so always called in the New Testament) of 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, of some importance and considerable antiquity, and not so insignificant and mean as has been represented. --ED.) Of the identification of the ancient site there can be no doubt. The name of the present village is en-Nazirah the same, therefore, as of old it is formed on a hill or mountain, Lu 4:29 it is within the limits of the province of Galilee, Mr 1:9 it is near Cana, according to the implication in Joh 2:1,2,11 a precipice exists in the neighborhood. Lu 4:29 The modern Nazareth belongs to the better class of eastern villages. It has a population of 3000 or 4000; a few are Mohammadans, the rest Latin and Greek Christians. (Near this town Napoleon once encamped (1799), after the battle of Mount Tabor.) The origin of the disrepute in which Nazareth stood, Joh 1:47 is not certainly known. All the inhabitants of Galilee were looked upon with contempt by the people of Judea because they spoke a ruder dialect, were less cultivated and were more exposed by their position to contact with the heathen. But Nazareth labored under a special opprobrium, for it was a Galilean and not a southern Jew who asked the reproachful question whether "any good thing" could come from that source. Above the town are several rocky ledges, over which a person could not be thrown without almost certain destruction. There is one very remarkable precipice, almost perpendicular and forty or fifty near the Maronite church, which may well be supposed to be the identical one over which his infuriated fellow townsmen attempted to hurl Jesus.


Nazareth
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which was a very small village near the Plain of Esdralon in Galilee. Although it is not mentioned in the Old Testament, there have been excavations revealing settlements in the area dating back to the Bronze Age, and tombs dating from the iron age to the Hasmonean period. The Biblical narrative reveals that Joseph and Mary lived here after their betrothal, in the announcement of Jesus' birth came to Mary here in Nazareth (Lk 1:26). Joseph made his living here as a carpenter possibly because it was near Sepphoris, a Hellenistic city being built by Herod Antipas.

Jesus left here at age 30 to be baptized by John (Mk 1:9), and returned to Nazareth before beginning his public ministry (Matt 4:13) and was violently rejected by the people of His town, and thus He moved on to Capernaum (Lk 4:16-30). There is no mention of Him ever returning back to His home town of Nazareth, but he was always identified with it (Matt 21:11), having been called a "Nazarene" which comes from the Hebrew root meaning "branch", in accordance with the promises made to David that King Messiah would be a descendant (branch) from the royal line of King David.

Nazareth was right on the Roman Road to Jerusalem and therefore contact with the whole known world could be made from this small village. In Jesus' time there is a synagogue located there (Lk 4:16), and Jews were living there after the destruction of the second Temple. Eusebius makes mention of a small village called Nazareth in the 4th century A.D. It's first church was built they are during the Time of the Emperor Constantine.

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Nazareth Scriptures

Mark 1:24 - Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 

Luke 4:34 - Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, [thou] Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 

Luke 2:4 - And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 

Acts 22:8 - And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 

Mark 10:47 - And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, [thou] Son of David, have mercy on me. 

John 18:5 - They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 

Matthew 2:23 - And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. 

John 1:45 - Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 

Mark 16:6 - And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 

Acts 2:22 - Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 

Acts 3:6 - Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 

Acts 4:10 - Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 

Acts 10:38 - How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 

John 19:19 - And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 

Acts 6:14 - For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 

Matthew 4:13 - And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 

Mark 1:9 - And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 

Luke 1:26 - And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 

Luke 24:19 - And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 

Mark 14:67 - And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 

Luke 2:39 - And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 

Luke 4:16 - And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 

John 1:46 - And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 

Acts 26:9 - I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Matthew 21:11 - And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. 

Matthew 26:71 - And when he was gone out into the porch, another [maid] saw him, and said unto them that were there, This [fellow] was also with Jesus ofNazareth. 

Luke 2:51 - And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 

Luke 18:37 - And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 

John 18:7 - Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 

Nazareth Notes

"Nazareth is like a rose, having the same rounded form, enclosed by mountains, as the flower is by leaves."

Meaning

NAZARETH pronounced nad-zar-et and possible means "the guarded one." Harpers defines it separated; crowned; sanctified

- E 5 on the map.

-strongs # 3478 in the Greek NT Dictionary.

- KJV uses the term Nazareth.

Location and Scenary

- The little town of Nazareth was one of the most beautiful places in all of Galilee.

- It is situated on the most southern of the ranges of lower Galilee, among the hills which are referred to as the south ridges of Lebanon, just before they sink down into the plain of Esdraelon (about 10 miles away). A rocky gorge descends southward to a plain between two craggy hills.

- It was situated on the southeast slope of a hollow pear shaped basin, which descends gradually from the elevated plateau 1500 feet above sea level and opens out through a steep winding way (the stem of the pear) into the plain of Esdraelon, 1000 feet lower.

- It is a secluded village lying in a basin, surrounded by the Nazareth limestone hills, which were said to "rise round it like the edge of a shell to guard it from intrusion."

- On the hill five hundred feet above the town, a most wonderful panorama opens to view of the beauties and historic scenes of the land.

- To the north one could see the plateaus of Zebulun and Naphtali, and the mountains of Lebanon with snow-covered Hermon towering above them all

- To the west one could see the coast of Tyre and the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

- From a hilltop in Nazareth one could see Mt. Carmel, the historic scene of the struggle of Elijah with the prophets of Baal.

- To the south one could see Megiddo and the whole plain of Esdraelon which was the scene of many of the most memorable battles of Israel, to Tabor and the hills of Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan lost their lives. Mt. Ebal and the land of Shechem in the background with the uplands of Gilead and Samaria.

- To the east, across the sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley, Gilead and Jaulan with Tabor, the Mountain of Bashan

- What thoughts Jesus must have had sitting upon these hilltops.

- At the foot of the hill passed the Roman road, "the Way of the Sea," which connected the ancient city of Damascus with the Mediterranean sea-ports.

- To the south there was a road that went all the way to Egypt.

- A mile and a half away was the caravan route to Jerusalem

- The town itself was built of the white limestone from the quarries of the calcerous mountains which encircle the basin.

- Sepphoris, the capital of Herod Antipas and strongest military center in Galilee, was only five miles to the northwest across the rolling hills.

- Tiberias, Capernaum, Bethsaida and other towns were only a few miles away on the margin of the Sea of Galilee; and even Jerusalem itself was not a great distance from Jesus' home in Nazareth.

- "You cannot see from Nazareth the surrounding country, for Nazareth lies in a basin; but the moment you climb to the edge of this basin . . . what a view you have. Esdraelon lies before you, with its twenty battlefields-the scenes of Barak's and of Gideon's victories, of Saul's and Josiah's defeats, of the struggles for freedom in the glorious days of the Maccabees. There is Naboth's vineyard and the place of Jehu's revenge upon Jezebel; there Shunem and the house of Elisha; there Carmel and the place of Elijah's sacrifice. To the E the valley of Jordan, with the long range of Gilead; to the W the radiance of the Great Sea. . . . You can see thirty miles in three directions" (Smith, Hist. Geog., p. 432).

The Bible and Nazareth

- Nazareth is not mentioned in the OT or by Josephus, although the presence of a spring and the convenience of the site make it probable that the place was occupied in old times.

- To be called a "Nazarene" was having an evil reputation (Matthew said this was in accord with the prophecy of Isaiah 53) and pictures the Messiah as a "root springing up out of the dry ground."

- One of the most well known names for the Messiah among the Jews was Tsamech or Branch, based on Isaiah's prophecy (Isa 11:1). The word Netzer is the exact equivalent. The title Nazarene not only stood for the reproach which Jesus bore, but was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. He was a Branch (Netzer) sprung out of David's roots.

- it is within the limits of the province of Galilee (Luke 4:29)

- Nazareth was the home of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:39)

- It was where the angel announced to Mary the birth of the Messiah (1:26-28).

.- It was where Joseph brought Mary and Jesus after the sojourn in Egypt (Matt 2:19-23).

- It was where Jesus grew up to manhood for about 30 years (Luke 4:16)

- He was therefore called Jesus of Nazareth.

- His disciples were known as Nazarenes.

- In Nazareth Jesus first taught in the synagogue (Matt 13:54; Luke 4:16)

- The evil reputation attached to Nazareth (John 1:46) has generally been attributed to the Galileans' lack of culture and rude dialect. Nathanael, who asked, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" was himself a Galilean. He may have said that because Nazareth was such a common term of contempt among the more "righteous" Jews in Judea. (See Galilee)

- In Nazareth, Jesus preached His first recorded sermon (Luke 4:16 ff).

- Once Jesus finished preaching about the Kingdom of God and the Nazarenes became violent. "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt 13:58) and He made His home in Capernaum.

- It is near Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine (Mark 1:9)

Other Information

- Scholars believe there were approximately 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants during the time of Christ

- Most of the houses were very similar in style even with the rich and poor.

- A bountiful spring furnished the water supply for the whole population and was a favorite place.

- Nazareth did not have the best of reputations even in Galilee. Nathaniel of Cana was but speaking a common opinion when he said: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

- The violence of the Nazareth crowd shows their hostility and religious ferver when Jesus preached there in the beginning of His ministry?

- All Classes of people for Jesus to observe (home, weddings, funerals, the carpenter shop, synagogue, etc.

- His childhood days brought innumerable illustrations for His later teachings such as the leaven hid in three measures of meal, women grinding at the mill, sowing and reaping, the sparrow and the lily, the children in the market place playing at wedding and funeral, etc.

- Educators say that the child learns more in the first three or four years than in all the rest of life.

- Nazareth was secluded by its natural location but it was not cut off from the outside world.

- All the inhabitants of Galilee were looked upon with contempt by the people of Judea because they spoke a cruder dialect, were less cultivated and were more exposed by their position to contact with the heathen.

- The location of the ancient site of Nazareth is very certain.

- Quaresimus learned that the ancient name was Medina Abiat, in which we may recognize the Arabic el-Medinat el-baidtah, "the white town." Built of the white stone supplied by the limestone rocks around, the description is quite accurate.

- There is a reference in the Mishna (Menachoth viii.6) to the "white house of the hill" whence wine for the drink offering was brought.

- An elegy for the 9 th of Abib speaks of a "course" of priests that settled in Nazareth.

Later History

- Near this town Napoleon once encamped (1799), after the battle of Mount Tabor.

Modern Nazareth

- It lies right between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean at Haifa.

- The modern name is en-Nazirah, which is built mainly on the western and northwestern slopes of a hollow among the lower hills of Galilee, just before they sink into the plain of Esdraelon.

- It belongs to the better class of eastern villages. It has a population of about 7,000; some Muslims, and the rest are Latin and Greek Christians.

- There is one very remarkable hilltop, almost perpendicular and near the Maronite church, which may well be supposed to be the identical one where the angry Nazarenes attempted to hurl Jesus off from.

- A Jewish community has settled on the heights above the city.

- Tourism is very important to the economy.

- The chief attraction of Nazareth is the new Church of the Annunciation (1966) built on the traditional site of Mary's house, which is shown under the church.This church replaced an earlier one built in 1730, which in turn was constructed on the site of a twelfth-century Crusader church.

- Nearby is the Church of St. Joseph (constructed in 1914), which stands on the traditional site of Joseph's carpenter shop (located below the church).

- Between the two churches is a Franciscan monastery.

- Not far away is Mary's well, which has provided water for the village from the first century to the present day.

- There are apparently no Jews living there today.

- It is the chief market town for the pastoral and agricultural district that lies around it.

- The only site in Nazareth that can be definitely identified as dating back to New Testament times is the town well, now called St. Mary's Well; others are in dispute between the various churches.
    

 

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