Re: Matt 2:23

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Tue Apr 07 1998 - 00:31:31 EDT

RHutchin <> wrote:

>In Matt 2:23, we have the reference to the fulfillment of the prophecy
>Christ "OTI NAZWPAIOS KLHQHSETAI" which translators take to mean that Christ
>should be called a Nazarene.
>Elsewhere, the term "O NAZWPAIOS" is used with regard to Christ, and we find
>the terminology "IHSOUS O NAZWPAIOS" or Jesus of Nazareth.
>Is the implication of Matt 2:23 that of Jesus being a Nazarene or that Jesus
>would be of/from Nazareth? Is there a difference between the two?
>What meaning or idea does the term "NAZWPAIOS" convey that I could use to
>a search for this prophecy in the OT (recognizing the challenge of the task).
>I am familiar with the identification of the word with Netzer and branch. Is
>there anything else to which "NAZWPAIOS" might refer within the Biblical

The meaning of this passage in reference to Jesus' being called NAZWRAIOS
has been much debated and discussed. Some simply think it refers to Him as
scorned and derided: from an insignificant place (cf. John 1:46). See
Tasker, page 45 for one presentation of this view. Others take it as a
reference to Nazarite as in Numbers 6:2 ff., but Jesus was manifestly not a
Nazarite. See, for instance, Mattew 11:18, 19 where it is obvious that
Jesus drank of the fruit of the vine. A case might be made for John the
Baptist's being a Nazarite, but this, and other passages indicate that
Jesus wasn't.

       Where the LXX refers to "Nazarite" it is spelled NAZEIR, NAZER,
NAZHRAIOS, or NAZIRAIOS - depending on the manuscript - which all differ
from Matthew's spelling, NAZWRAIOS in that the LXX has the "E" or "I" sound
or some variation after the zeta, but Matthew 2:23 has the omega which
produces an "O" sound. One would think that, if Matthew were writing in
Greek and had meant to say "Nazarite," he would have at least used one of
these spellings from the LXX.

        If Matthew is referencing a Hebrew word in this passage, it is
probably safe to say that whatever is meant by NAZWRAIOS has to do in some
way with the Hebrew meaning of at least the three consonants NCR (where
C=tsade), since these are the first three consonants of Nazareth. Also, I
would think that if it were a reference to the Hebrew NZYR (Nazarite, where
Z=zayin), we would see an "e" or an "i" sound after the zeta corresponding
to the Hebrew yod rather than the omega as it stands in our Greek text.

        Our passage says that "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." One possibility, as is mentioned above, is that we
have here a reference to the Messiah's being referred to as the "branch"
(Heb. nezer [NCR]) - the KJV has "rod" in place of "branch" - that was to
come out of the stem of Jesse according to Isaiah 11:1 . This theory, of
course, postulates a Hebrew or Aramaic original (the same word [NCR] means
the same in Aramaic) for this part of Matthew. Many, however, doubt this
possibility. One objection to this theory is that the Isaiah citation is
the only reference in the prophets where this particular word is used in
this way, and PRWFHTWN is plural in reference to the prophets. But see
Jere. 23:5 and especially Zech. 3:8; 6:12 which also refer to the Branch
but use the the synonymn CMX (tzemach) rather than NCR. So if NCR is the
key to how Mat. 2:23 is to be understood, its original would have to have
been either in Hebrew or Aramaic because it is only these languages that
provide the word reference (Isa. 11:1) whose meaning is echoed by the
Messianic use of its synonymn in Jer. 23:5 and Zech. 3:8; 6:12.

Regards to all,
David Moore

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
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