Re: Matt 2:23

From: Juan Stam (
Date: Tue Apr 07 1998 - 08:34:55 EDT

Thanks, David, for your very helpful contribution.

Matthew's way of using the Hebrew scriptures is certainly perplexing,
especially his repeated use of PLHROW for things that cannot be considered
"fulfilment" in any exegetical sense. I wonder if this is because Matthew
(ande other biblical authors) understand both "prophesy" and "fulfillment"
in a different way. Rachel weeping (Mt 2.18) is already in Jer 31.15 a
quite far-fetched (for us) "prophesy" (without too clear a source in Gen),
and then Mt puts a double-whammy on it by a far-fetched (for us) application
to the flight to Egypt. They seem to be seeing "prophechy" in a typological
way, as hidden salvation-history anticipations of future saving acts

My question: how is Matthew understanding PLHROW? It seems to be, not as
literal fulfilment (a la Nostradamus) but as to "fill out" the meaning of
some ancient hint of saving grace. Even then, Matthew goes pretty far in
"stretching it" to be prophecies that were "filled-out" in Jesus.

Greetings from Costa Rica, Juan Stam

At 12:31 AM 4/7/98 -0400, you wrote:
>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
>Home Page:

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