Nazareth

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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The ‘city called Nazareth’ ( Matthew 2:23), in which Jesus lived from childhood to manhood, lay in a beautiful valley of Southern Galilee, due west of the southern end of the Lake of Galilee, and about midway between that Lake and the Mediterranean. After the Gospels, it is expressly mentioned only in the phrase Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέθ, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ ( Acts 10:38), but an equivalent of this expression, Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος, also translated ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ but lit.[Note: literally, literature.]‘the Nazaraean,’ or ‘Nazarene,’ is found six times in Acts; while the followers of Jesus are once called ‘the Nazarenes’ (οἱ Ναζωραῖοι,  Acts 24:5). The name ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ has various shades of meaning, according to the spirit in which it is uttered. On the Day of Pentecost St. Peter uses it with an amazed sense of the identity of the lowly Nazarene, who met a felon’s death, with the glorious Being who, Risen and Exalted, has been made Lord and Christ ( Acts 2:22; cf.  Acts 3:6,  Acts 4:10). The accusers of Stephen refer with contemptuous anger to ‘this Jesus the Nazarene’ ( Acts 6:14), whom the heretic would fain set above Moses. St. Paul recalls the time when his unenlightened conscience drove him to take active measures against ‘Jesus the Nazarene,’ a name which he used at that time with fierce scorn ( Acts 26:9). But on the road to Damascus he learned its true meaning, when his question ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ was answered, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene’ ( Acts 22:8). The Galilaean town, valley, and hills were for ever graven on the Saviour’s heart, and His own use of the familiar title made it doubly sacred. His followers could never object to be named ‘the Nazarenes,’ as they were, e.g., by Tertullus ( Acts 24:5), just as they could not but glory in being called ‘the Christians’ ( Acts 11:26). While the former name was of Jewish origin, and came to be their standing designation among the unbelieving Jews, the latter was a Gentile coinage. ‘The Nazarene’ and ‘the Nazarenes’ correspond to the terms which are used in the Talmud-הַנּוֹצְרִי (Sanh. 43a, 107b; Sot. 47a) and הַנּוֹצְרִים (Ta‛ǎn. 27b); and to the present day the word Nôṣrî is habitually applied in Jewish literature to Jesus’ followers, whom a strict orthodoxy can no more name ‘Christians’ than it can call their leader ‘Christ.’ The name ‘Nazarenes’ still designates the Christians in all Muslim lands.

It is a significant fact that Nazareth, which is so dear to Christendom, is never named in the OT, Josephus, or the Talmud. Though it was a city (πόλις,  Matthew 2:23), not a village (κώμη), it was a place without a history, and Nathanael of Cana-who may not have been quite free from the jealousy of neighbourhood-had great difficulty in imagining that it might produce the Messiah ( John 1:46). But many things have been said, and uncritically repeated, about Nazareth, which are not well grounded on fact; e.g., that Jesus lived for thirty years ‘in the deep obscurity of a provincial village … not only in a despised province, but in its most disregarded valley’ (F. W. Farrar, The Life of Christ, new ed., 1894, p. 41), and that ‘probably public opinion looked upon the little town as morally degenerate’ (Meyer on  John 1:47). There is no reason to believe that the Nazarenes were less brave, less devoted to their country’s cause, less zealous for the law, less inspired by Messianic hopes than the other Galilaeans. And one of the hills that ‘girdle quiet Nazareth’ was a perfect watch-tower, set in the midst of the Holy Land and the mighty Roman Empire, for the young Prophet who was to give the city so great a place in history. His feet climbed its summit easily and-as His love of hills would indicate-probably often; and while His eyes ranged over one of the fairest prospects on earth, He had ‘ears to hear’ the murmur of the world. If His youth was inwardly, it could scarcely be outwardly, peaceful. He loved solitude, and the words ‘in secret’ (ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ,  Matthew 6:4;  Matthew 6:6) were dear to Him; yet He was destined for society, and His early years were passed in no backwater, but in the full current of the events of His time. He was never far from the crowds, often (such were Roman oppression and Jewish sedition) the madding crowds of Galilee, and ‘all the rumour of the Empire entered Palestine close to Nazareth’ (G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith), 1897, p. 434; cf. Selah Merrill, Galilee in the Time of Christ, 1885, p. 123f.). All the time that His talent (if the word may here be used) was growing in stillness, His character was being formed in the stream of the world. Nazareth was in truth the best of all places for the education of the Messiah (cf. W. M. Ramsay, The Education of Christ2, 1902).

Various etymologies of ‘Nazareth’ have been proposed. The idea that it means ‘consecrated,’ ‘devoted to God’ (from נָדַר, whence Nazirite), or that it denotes ‘my Saviour’ (נוֹצְרִי), may be dismissed at once. Equally improbable is the notion that it embodies a Messianic name, ‘the Shoot,’ or ‘the Sprout’ (נֵצֶר), which is found in  Isaiah 11:1. The most likely suggestion is that it signifies ‘Watch-tower’ (from נֹצָרֶת, Aram. נָצְרֶה, נָצְרַת, a name which would be given first to the hill, and then to the town built on its flank.

Acting on a hint of Wellhausen’s (Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte, 1894, p. 222, footnote 3), T. K. Cheyne has tried to conjure ‘the city of Nazareth’ out of existence, leaving the sacred name as a mere synonym of ‘Galilee’ (Encyclopaedia Biblicaiii. 3358 f.), but his reasoning, as G. A. Barton remarks in Jewish Encyclopedia, is ‘in the highest degree precarious.’

Literature.-A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine23, 1912; V. Guérin, Description géog. de la Palestine, pt. iii.: ‘Galilée,’ 1880; F. Buhl, GAP[Note: AP Geographie des alten Palästina (Buhl).], 1896; W. Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 1903; K. Baedeker, Palestine and Syria, 1912, p. 246.

James Strahan.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

a little city in the tribe of Zebulun, in Lower Galilee, to the west of Tabor, and to the east of Ptolemais. This city is much celebrated in the Scriptures for having been the usual place of the residence of Jesus Christ, during the first thirty years of his life,  Luke 2:51 . It was here he lived in obedience to Joseph and Mary, and hence he took the name of Nazarene. After he had begun to execute his mission he preached here sometimes in the synagogue,  Luke 4:16 . But because his countrymen had no faith in him, and were offended at the meanness of his original, he did not many miracles here,  Matthew 13:54;  Matthew 13:58 , nor would he dwell in the city. So he fixed his habitation at Capernaum for the latter part of his life,  Matthew 4:13 . The city of Nazareth was situated upon an eminence, and on one side was a precipice, from whence the Nazarenes designed, at one time, to cast Christ down headlong, because he upbraided them for their incredulity,  Luke 4:29 .

The present state of this celebrated place is thus described by modern travellers:—Nassara, or Naszera, is one of the principal towns in the pashalic of Acre. Its inhabitants are industrious, because they are treated with less severity than those of the country towns in general. The population is estimated at three thousand, of whom five hundred are Turks; the remainder are Christians. There are about ninety Latin families, according to Burckhardt; but Mr. Connor reports the Greeks to be the most numerous: there is, besides, a congregation of Greek Catholics, and another of Maronites. The Latin convent is a very spacious and commodious building, which was thoroughly repaired and considerably enlarged in 1730. The remains of the more ancient edifice, ascribed to the mother of Constantine, may be observed in the form of subverted columns, with fragments of capitals and bases of pillars, lying near the modern building. Pococke noticed, over a door, an old alto-relief of Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes. Within the convent is the church of the annunciation, containing the house of Joseph and Mary, the length of which is not quite the breadth of the church; but it forms the principal part of it. The columns and all the interior or the church are hung round with damask silk, which gives it a warm and rich appearance. Behind the great altar is a subterranean cavern, divided into small grottoes, where the virgin is said to have lived. Her kitchen, parlour, and bed room, are shown, and also a narrow hole in the rock, in which the child Jesus once hid himself from his persecutors. The pilgrims who visit these holy spots are in the habit of knocking off small pieces of stone from the walls, which are thus considerably enlarging. In the church a miracle is still exhibited to the faithful. In front of the altar are two granite columns, each two feet one inch in diameter, and about three feet apart. They are supposed to occupy the very places where the angel and the virgin stood at the precise moment of the annunciation. The innermost of these, that of the virgin, has been broken away, some say by the Turks, in expectation of finding treasure under it; "so that," as Maundrell states, "eighteen inches' length of it is clean gone between the pillar and the pedestal." Nevertheless, it remains erect, suspended from the roof, as if attracted by a loadstone. It has evidently no support below; and, though it touches the roof, the hierophant protests that it has none above. "All the Christians of Nazareth," says Burckhardt, "with the friars, of course, at their head, affect to believe in this miracle; though it is perfectly evident that the upper part of the column is connected with the roof." "The fact is," says Dr. E. D. Clarke, "that the capital and a piece of the shaft of a pillar of gray granite have been fastened on to the roof of the cave; and so clumsily is the rest of the hocus pocus contrived, that what is shown for the lower fragment of the same pillar resting upon the earth, is not of the same substance, but of Cipolino marble. About this pillar, a different story has been related by almost every traveller since the trick was devised. Maundrell, and Egmont and Heyman, were told that it was broken, in search of hidden treasure, by a pasha, who was struck with blindness for his impiety. We were assured that it was separated in this manner when the angel announced to the virgin the tidings of her conception. The monks had placed a rail, to prevent persons infected with the plague from coming to rub against these pillars: this had been, for many years, their constant practice, whenever afflicted with any sickness. The reputation of the broken pillar, for healing every kind of disease, prevails all over Galilee."

Burckhardt says that this church, next to that of the holy sepulchre, is the finest in Syria, and contains two tolerably good organs. Within the walls of the convent are two gardens, and a small burying ground: the walls are very thick, and serve occasionally as a fortress to all the Christians in the town. There are, at present, eleven friars in the convent: they are chiefly Spaniards. The yearly expenses of the establishment are stated to amount to upward of nine hundred pounds; a small part of which is defrayed by the rent of a few houses in the town, and by the produce of some acres of corn land: the rest is remitted from Jerusalem. The whole annual expenses of the Terra Santa convents are about fifteen thousand pounds; of which the pasha of Damascus receives about twelve thousand pounds. The Greek convent of Jerusalem, according to Burckhardt's authority, pays much more, as well to maintain its own privileges, as with a view to encroach upon those of the Latins. To the north-west of the convent is a small church, built over Joseph's work shop. Both Maundrell and Pococke describe it as in ruins; but Dr. E. D. Clarke says, "This is now a small chapel, perfectly modern, and neatly whitewashed." To the west of this is a small arched building, which, they say, is the synagogue where Christ exasperated the Jews, by applying the language of Isaiah to himself. It once belonged to the Greeks; but, Hasselquist says, was taken from them by the Arabs, who intended to convert it into a mosque, but afterward sold it to the Latins. This was then so late a transaction that they had not had time to embellish it. The "Mountain of the Precipitation" is at least two miles off; so that, according to this authentic tradition, the Jews must have led our Lord a marvellous way. But the said precipice is shown as that which the Messiah leaped down to escape from the Jews; and as the monks could not pitch upon any other place frightful enough for the miracle, they contend that Nazareth formerly stood eastward of its present situation, upon a more elevated spot. Dr. E. D. Clarke, however, remarks that the situation of the modern town answers exactly to the description of St. Luke. "Induced, by the words of the Gospel, to examine the place more attentively than we should otherwise have done, we went, as it is written, out of the city, ‘to the brow of the hill whereon the city is built,' and came to a precipice corresponding to the words of the evangelist. It is above the Maronite church, and, probably, the precise spot alluded to by the text."

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

In a basin among hills descending into Esdraelon from Lebanon, and forming a valley which runs in a wavy line E. and W. On the northern side of the valley the rounded limestone hills rise to 400 or 500 ft. The valley and hill sides abound in gay flowers as the hollyhock growing wild, fig trees, olives, and oranges, gardens with cactus hedges, and grainfields. Now En Nazirah on a hill of Galilee ( Mark 1:9), with a precipice nigh ( Luke 4:29); near Cane ( John 2:1-2;  John 2:11). Its population of 4,000 is partly Muslim, but mainly of Latin and Greek Christians. It has a mosque, a Maronite, a Greek, and a Protestant church, and a large Franciscan convent. The rain pouring down the hills would sweep away a house founded on the surface, and often leaves the streets impassable with mud. So the houses generally are of stone, founded, after digging deep, upon the rock ( Luke 6:47).

On a hill behind is the tomb of neby Ismail, commanding one of the most lovely prospects in the world, Lebanon and snowy Hermon on the N., Carmel and the Mediterranean and Acca on the W., Gilead and Tabor on the S.E., the Esdraelon plain and the Samaria mountains on the S., and villages on every side; Cana, Nain, Endor, Jezreel (Zerin), etc. Doubtless in early life Jesus often stood on this spot and held communion with His Father who, by His Son, had created this glorious scene. Nazareth is never named in Old Testament. It was there Gabriel was sent from God to announce to the Virgin her coming conception of Him who shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end ( Luke 1:26-33). After His birth and the sojourn in Egypt Joseph and Mary took the child to their original home in Nazareth, six miles W. of Mount Tabor ( Matthew 2:23;  Luke 2:39;  Luke 4:16).

As "John the Baptist; was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel," so Messiah was growing up unknown to the world in the sequestered town among the mountains, until His baptism by the forerunner ushered in His public ministry. As Jews alone lived in Nazareth from before Josephus' time to the reign of Constantine (Epiphanius, Haer.), it is impossible to identify the sacred sites as tradition pretends to do, namely, the place of the annunciation to Mary, with the inscription on the pavement of the grotto, " Ηic Verbum Caro Factum Est ", the Mensa Christi , and the synagogue from whence Jesus was dragged to the brow of the hill. Of all Rome's lying legends, none exceeds that of Joseph's house ( Santa Casa ) having been whisked from Nazareth to Loretto in the 13th century; in spite of the bull of Leo X endorsing the legend, the fact remains that the santa casa is of a dark red stone, such as is not found in or about Nazareth, where the grey white limestone prevails, and also the ground plan of the house at Loretto is at variance with the site of the house at Nazareth shown by the Franciscans within their convent walls.

Jesus taught in the synagogue of Nazareth, "His own country" ( Matthew 13:54), and was there "thrust out of the city and led unto the brow of the hill whereon if was built, to be cast down headlong," but "passing through the midst of them He went His way" ( Luke 4:16-30). The hill of precipitation" is not the one presumed, two miles S.E. of Nazareth. The present village is on the hill side, nearer the bottom than the top. Among the rocky ledges above the lower parts of the village is one 40 ft. high, and perpendicular, near the Maronite church: this is probably the true site. It is striking how accurately Luke steers clear of a mistake; he does not say they ascended or descended to reach the precipice, but "led" Jesus to it. He does not say the "city" was built on the brow of the hill, but that the precipice was "on the brow," without stating whether it was above (as is the case) or below the town.

A forger could hardly go so near a topographical mistake, without falling into it. "Jesus of Nazareth" was part of the inscription on the cross ( John 19:19). It is the designation by which He revealed Himself to Saul ( Acts 22:8). Nazareth bore a bad name even in Galilee (For Nathanael Who Said "Can Any Good Thing Come Out Of Nazareth?" Was Of Galilee) , which itself, because of its half pagan population and rude dialect, was despised by the people of Judea. The absence of "good" in Nazareth appears from the people's willful unbelief in spite of Jesus' miracles, and their attempt on His life ( Matthew 13:54-58), so that He left them, to settle in Capernaum ( Matthew 4:13). "The fountain of the Virgin" is at the N.E. of the town.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

A city of lower Galilee, about seventy miles north of Jerusalem, in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun. It was situated on the side of a hill overlooking a rich and beautiful valley, surrounded by hills, with a narrow outlet towards the south. At the mouth of this ravine the monks profess to show the place where the men of the city were about to cast Jesus from the precipice,  Luke 4:29 . Nazareth is about six miles west north west of Mount Tabor, and nearly half way form the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It is said in the New Testament to be "the city of Jesus," because it was the place of his usual residence during the first thirty years of his life,  Matthew 2:23   Luke 1:26   2:51   4:16 . He visited it during his public ministry, but did not perform many miracles there because of the unbelief of the people,  Matthew 13:54-58 . It is not even named in the Old Testament, nor by Josephus; and appears to have been a small place, of no very good repute,  John 1:46 . The modern town, en-Nasirah, is a secluded village of about three thousand inhabitants, most of whom are Latin and Greek Christians. It lies about eight hundred feet above the level of the sea; and is one of the pleasantest towns in Syria. Its houses are of stone, two stories high, with flat roofs. It contains a mosque, a large Latin convent, and two or three chapels. The traditionary "Mount of the Precipitation" is nearly two miles from the town, too remote to have answered the purpose of the enraged Nazarenes; while there were several precipitous spots close at hand, where the fall is still from thirty to fifty feet.

From the summit of the hill on the eastern slope of which Nazareth lies, is a truly magnificent prospect. Towards the north, the eye glances over the countless hills of Galilee, and reposes on the majestic and snow-crowned Hermon. On the east, the Jordan valley may be traced, and beyond it the dim heights of ancient Bashan. Towards the south, spreads the broad and beautiful plain of Esdraelon, with the bold outline of Mount Tabor, and parts of Little Hermon and Gilboa visible on its eastern border, and the hills of Samaria on the south, while Carmel rises on the west of the plain, and dips his feet in the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Says Dr. Robinson in his "Biblical Researches in Palestine," "I remained for some hours upon this spot, lost in the contemplation of the wide prospect and of the events connected with the scenes around. In the village below, the Savior of the world had passed his childhood; and although we have few particulars of his life during those early years, yet there are certain features of nature which meet our eyes now, just as they once met his."

"He must often have visited the fountain near which we had pitched our tent; his feet must frequently have wandered over the adjacent hills, and his eyes have doubtless gazed upon the splendid prospect form this very spot. Here the Prince of peace looked down upon the great plain, where the din of battles so oft had rolled, and the garments of the warrior been dyed in blood; and he liked out, too, upon the sea over which the swift ships were to bear the tidings of his salvation to nations and to continents them unknown. How has the moral aspect to things been changed!"

"Battles and bloodshed have indeed not ceased to desolate this unhappy country, and gross darkness now covers the people; but from this region a light went forth, which has enlightened the world and unveiled new climes; and now the rays of that light begin to be reflected back form distant isles and continents, to illuminate anew the darkened land where it first sprung up."

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

Netser Notserah

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 ( Matthew 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;  Matthew 13:54-58 ); and he finally retired from the city, where he did not many mighty works because of their unbelief ( Matthew 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' ( Isaiah 4:2;  Jeremiah 23:5;  Zechariah 3:8;  6:12;  Matthew 2:23 ), Nazarene being quite a different word from Nazarite."

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

The chief importance of Nazareth is that it was the place where Jesus lived most of his life. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and is mentioned in the New Testament only in connection with the story of Jesus.

Nazareth was situated in the hilly country of the northern part of Palestine known as Galilee. It had no great political importance, though it was close to several trade routes that passed through Palestine. Citizens of rival towns did not have a high opinion of it ( John 1:43-46). The town today is within the borders of modern Israel, and is larger and more important than it was in Jesus’ day.

Jesus’ parents were originally from Nazareth, but before his birth they moved south to Bethlehem in Judea ( Luke 2:4). After Jesus’ birth the family went to Egypt to escape the murderous Herod, and it was probably about two years later that they returned to Palestine and settled again in Nazareth ( Matthew 2:19-23;  Luke 2:39). Jesus spent his childhood in Nazareth ( Luke 2:40;  Luke 2:51;  Luke 4:16), and seems to have continued living there till he was about thirty years of age, at which time he began his public ministry ( Mark 1:9;  Luke 3:23).

A common Jewish practice was to identify people by the name of the town they came from. Jesus was often referred to – by friends, enemies, angels, demons, common people, government officials, and even by himself – as Jesus of Nazareth ( Matthew 26:71;  Mark 1:23-24;  Mark 16:5-6;  Luke 24:19;  John 18:5;  John 19:19;  Acts 2:22;  Acts 22:8).

The people of Nazareth, who had seen Jesus grow up in their town, were surprised that he could preach so well, especially since he had not studied at any of the schools of the rabbis. They were also angry that he would not perform miracles to please them. On one occasion they tried to throw him over one of the cliffs in the hills around Nazareth ( Matthew 13:53-58;  Luke 4:16-30;  Mark 6:1-6).

In New Testament times the unbelieving Jews refused to call Jesus by his messianic name ‘Christ’, and refused to call his followers ‘Christians’. They called him simply Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the Nazarene, and called his followers Nazarenes ( Acts 24:5). Even today, in Hebrew and Arabic speech, Christians may be called Nazarenes.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Naz'areth. (The Guarded One). The ordinary residence of our Saviour, is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but occurs first in  Matthew 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. - Editor). 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,  Luke 4:29, it is within the limits of the province of Galilee,  Mark 1:9, it is near Cana, according to the implication in  John 2:1-2;  John 2:11, a precipice exists in the neighborhood.  Luke 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,  John 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 [Reproach, mingled with contempt or disdain.], 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 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Nazareth ( Năz'A-R Ĕth ), Separated?  Matthew 2:23. A city of Galilee, famous as the home of Jesus during his childhood and youth until he began his public ministry. It was about 14 miles from the Sea of Galilee, and 66 miles north of Jerusalem in a straight line. It is one of the most beautiful sites in the Holy Land. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, nor by any classical author, nor by any writer before the time of Christ. It was for some unknown reason held in disrepute among the Jews of Judæa.  John 1:46. It was situated in a mountain,  Luke 4:29, within the province of Galilee,  Mark 1:9, and near Cana, as  John 2:1-2;  John 2:11 seems to imply. There was a precipice near the town, down which the people proposed to cast Jesus.  Luke 4:29. It is mentioned 29 times in the New Testament. At Nazareth the angel appeared to Mary: the home of Joseph,  Luke 1:26;  Luke 2:39, and to that place Joseph and Mary returned after their flight into Egypt.  Matthew 2:23. The hills and places about the town possess a deep and hallowed interest to the Christian as the home of Jesus during his childhood and youth, until he entered upon his ministry, and had preached in the synagogue, and was rejected by his own townspeople. Even after Capernaum became "his own city" he was known as "Jesus of Nazareth,"  Matthew 13:54-58;  Mark 6:1-6;  Acts 2:22;  Acts 3:6;  Acts 4:10;  Acts 6:14, and his disciples were called "Nazarenes." The town is now called En-Nâsirah, or Nasrah, and has from 6000 to 7000 population, though the Turkish officials estimate it at 10,000. The brow of the hill over which the enraged Nazarenes threatened to cast Jesus is probably near the Maronite church, though tradition places it at the "Mount of Precipitation," two or three miles south of the town.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

Town where the Lord was 'brought up.' Early in the Lord's ministry He visited Nazareth, and taught in the synagogue. The people wondered at His gracious words, but they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" When He told them that no prophet is accepted in his own country, and proceeded to speak of the grace of God having gone out to the Gentiles in O.T. times, they were filled with wrath, thrust Him out of the city, and sought to hurl Him over the brow of the hill on which the city was built. But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way.  Luke 4:16-30 . About twelve months later He visited 'his own country' again and taught in the synagogue. But the inhabitants only regarded Him as 'the carpenter,' and were offended in Him. He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.  Matthew 13:54-58;  Mark 6:1-6 . As far as is known the Lord did not visit Nazareth again.

It is identified with en Nasirah , in Lower Galilee, 32 42' N, 35 18' E . The town presents a striking appearance, the houses being built of the white limestone of the neighbourhood, which reflects the rays of the sun. There is a steep precipice which is probably the place where the enraged people intended to cast down the Lord. A spring, called the 'fountain of the virgin,' supplies the town with water, where the women may daily be seen with their pitchers, and whence doubtless the mother of the Lord also fetched water for her family. The name of the city often occurs in the gospels in the expression, 'Jesus of Nazareth,' and this designation was also placed on the cross. God has highly exalted the One who humbled Himself, and was in the eyes of the Jews merely 'Jesus of Nazareth.'

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

NAZARETH (mod. en-Nâsira ). A town in the north border of the Plain of Esdraelon. It was a place of no history (being entirely unmentioned in the OT, Josephus, or the Talmud), no importance, and, possibly, of bad reputation (  John 1:48 ). Here, however, lived Mary and Joseph. Hither, before their marriage, was the angel Gabriel sent to announce the coming birth of Christ (  Luke 1:26-38 ), and hither the Holy Family retired after the flight to Egypt (  Matthew 2:23 ). The obscure years of Christ’s boyhood were spent here, and in its synagogue He preached the sermon for which He was rejected by His fellow-townsmen (  Matthew 13:54 ,   Luke 4:28 ). After this, save as a centre of pilgrimage, Nazareth sank into obscurity. The Crusaders made it a bishopric; it is now the seat of a Turkish lientenant-governor. Many traditional sites are pointed out to pilgrims and tourists, for not one of which, with the possible exception of the ‘Virgin’s Well’ (which, being the only spring known in the neighbourhood, was not improbably that used by the Holy Family), is there any justification.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

naz´a - reth ( Ναζαρέτ , Nazarét , Ναζαρέθ , Nazaréth , and other forms):

1. Notice Confined to the New Testament:

A town in Galilee, the home of Joseph. and the Virgin Mary, and for about 30 years the scene of the Saviour's life ( Matthew 2:23;  Mark 1:9;  Luke 2:39 ,  Luke 2:51;  Luke 4:16 , etc.). He was therefore called Jesus of Nazareth, although His birthplace was Bethlehem; and those who became His disciples were known as Nazarenes. This is the name, with slight modification, used to this day by Moslems for Christians, Naṣārā - the singular being Naṣrāny .

The town is not named in the Old Testament, although the presence of a spring and the convenience of the site make it probable that the place was occupied in old times. Quaresimus learned that the ancient name was Medina Abiat , in which we may recognize the Arabic el - Medı̄nat el - baiḍah , "the white town." Built of the white stone supplied by the limestone rocks around, the description is quite accurate. There is a reference in Mishna ( Menāḥōth viii. 6) to the "white house of the hill" whence wine for the drink offering was brought. An elegy for the 9th of Abib speaks of a "course" of priests settled in Nazareth. This, however, is based upon an ancient midhrash now lost (Neubauer, Geogr . du Talmud , 82,85, 190; Delitzsch, Ein Tag in Capernaum , 142). But all this leaves us still in a state of uncertainty.

2. Position and Physical Features:

The ancient town is represented by the modern en - Nāṣirah , 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 lies about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean at Haifa. The road to the plain and the coast goes over the southwestern lip of the hollow; that to Tiberias and Damascus over the heights to the Northeast. A rocky gorge breaks down southward, issuing on the plain between two craggy hills. That to the West is the traditional Hill of Precipitation (  Luke 4:29 ). This, however, is too far from the city as it must have been in the days of Christ. It is probable that the present town occupies pretty nearly the ancient site; and the scene of that attempt on Jesus' life may have been the cliff, many feet in height, not far from the old synagogue, traces of which are still seen in the western part of the town. There is a good spring under the Greek Orthodox church at the foot of the hill on the North. The water is led in a conduit to the fountain, whither the women and their children go as in old times, to carry home in their jars supplies for domestic use. There is also a tiny spring in the face of the western hill. To the Northwest rises the height on which stands the sanctuary, now in ruins, of Neby Sa‛ı̄n . From this point a most beautiful and extensive view is obtained, ranging on a clear day from the Mediterranean on the West to the Mountain of Bashan on the East; from Upper Galilee and Mt. Hermon on the North to the uplands of Gilead and Samaria on the South The whole extent of Esdraelon is seen, that great battlefield, associated with so many heroic exploits in Israel's history, from Carmel and Megiddo to Tabor and Mt. Gilboa.

3. Present Inhabitants:

There are now some 7,000 inhabitants, mainly Christian, of whom the Greek Orthodox church claims about 3,000. Moslems number about 1,600. There are no Jews. It is the chief market town for the pastoral and agricultural district that lies around it.

4. Labors of Jesus:

In Nazareth, Jesus preached His first recorded sermon ( Luke 4:16 ff), when His plainness of speech aroused the homicidal fury of His hearers. "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (  Matthew 13:58 ). Finding no rest or security in Nazareth, He made His home in Capernaum. The reproach implied in Nathanael's question, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ( John 1:46 ), has led to much speculation. By ingenious emendation of the text Cheyne would read, "Can the Holy One proceed from Nazareth?" ( EB , under the word). Perhaps, however, we should see no more in this than the acquiescence of Nathanael's humble spirit in the lowly estimate of his native province entertained by the leaders of his people in Judea.

5. Later History:

Christians are said to have first settled here in the time of Constantine (Epiphanius), whose mother Helena built the Church of the Annunciation. In crusading times it was the seat of the bishop of Bethscan. It passed into Moslem hands after the disaster to the Crusaders at Ḥaṭṭı̄n (1183). It was destroyed by Sultan Bibars in 1263. In 1620 the Franciscans rebuilt the Church of the Annunciation, and the town rose again from its ruins. Here in 1799 the French general Junot was assailed by the Turks. After his brilliant victory over the Turks at Tabor, Napoleon visited Nazareth. The place suffered some damage in the earthquake of 1837.

Protestant Missions are now represented in Nazareth by agents of the Church Missionary Society, and of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nazareth'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/nazareth.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [14]

A town in a hollow of the hills on the N. of the Plain of Esdraëlon, 67 m. N. of Jerusalem and 11 m. W. of the Sea of Galilee, celebrated over Christendom as the home of the Holy Family.

References