Quotes & Notes on:
John Wesley's Notes:
He came and dwelt in Nazareth-(where he had dwelt before he
went to Bethlehem) a place contemptible to a proverb. So that hereby was
fulfilled what has been spoken in effect by several of the prophets,
(though by none of them in express words,)
He shall be called a Nazarene-that is, he shall be despised and
rejected, shall be a mark of public contempt and reproach.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
* Nazareth. Joh 18:5; 19:19; Ac 2:22
* He shall. Mt 26:71; Nu 6:13; Jg 13:5; 1Sa 1:11; Ps 69:9,10; Isa 53:1,2
Am 2:10-12; Joh 1:45,46; Ac 24:5
Adam Clarke's Commentary:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets] It is
difficult to ascertain by what prophets this was spoken. The margin
usually refers to Jg 13:5, where the angel, foretelling the birth of
Samson, says, No razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be
a NAZARITE (ryzn nezir) unto God from the womb. The second passage
usually referred to is Isa 11:1: There shall come forth a rod from the
stem of Jesse, and a BRANCH (run netser) shall grow out of his roots.
That this refers to Christ, there is no doubt. Jeremiah, Jer 23:5, is
supposed to speak in the same language-I will raise unto David a
righteous BRANCH: but here the word is xmu tsemach, not run netser; and
it is the same in the parallel place, Zec 3:8; 6:12; therefore, these
two prophets cannot be referred to; but the passages in Judges and
Isaiah may have been in the eye of the evangelist, as well as the whole
institution relative to the Nazarite (ryzn nezir) delivered at large,
Num. 6:, where see the notes. As the Nazarite was the most pure and
perfect institution under the law, it is possible that God intended to
point out by it, not only the perfection of our Lord, but also the
purity of his followers. And it is likely that, before St. Matthew wrote
this Gospel, those afterwards called Christians bore the appellation of
Nazarites, or Nazoreans, for so the Greek word, nazwraiov, should be
written. Leaving the spiritual reference out of the question, the
Nazarene or Nazorean here may mean simply an inhabitant or person of
Nazareth; as Galilean does a person or inhabitant of Galilee. The
evangelist evidently designed to state, that neither the sojourning at
Nazareth, nor our Lord being called a Nazarene, were fortuitous events,
but were wisely determined and provided for in the providence of God;
and therefore foretold by inspired men, or fore-represented by
But how shall we account for the manner in which St. Matthew and others
apply this, and various other circumstances, to the fulfilment of
ancient traditions? This question has greatly agitated divines and
critics for more than a century. Surenhusius, Hebrew professor at
Amsterdam, and editor of a very splendid and useful edition of the
Mishna, in six vols. fol. published an express treatise on this subject,
in 1713, full of deep research and sound criticism. He remarks great
difference in the mode of quoting used in the Sacred Writings: as, It
hath been said-it is written-that it might be fulfilled which was spoken
by the prophets-the Scripture says-see what is said-the Scripture
foreseeing-he saith-is it not written?-the saying that is written, &c.,
&c. With great pains and industry, he has collected ten rules out of the
Talmud and the rabbins, to explain and justify all the quotations made
from the Old Testament in the New.
RULE I. Reading the words, not according to the regular vowel points,
but to others substituted for them. He thinks this is done by Peter, Ac
3:22,23; by Stephen, Ac 7:42, &c.; and by Paul, 1Co 15:54; 2Co 8:15.
RULE II. Changing the letters, as done by St. Paul, Ro 9:33; 1Co 9:9,
&c.; Heb 8:9., &c.; Heb 10:5.
RULE III. Changing both letters and vowel points, as he supposes is done
by St. Paul, Ac 13:40,41; 2Co 8:15.
RULE IV. Adding some letters, and retrenching others.
RULE V. Transposing words and letters.
RULE VI. Dividing one word into two.
RULE VII. Adding other words to make the sense more clear.
RULE VIII. Changing the original order of the words.
RULE IX. Changing the original order, and adding other words.
RULE X. Changing the original order, and adding and retrenching words,
which he maintains is a method often used by St. Paul.
Let it be observed, that although all these rules are used by the
rabbins, yet, as far as they are employed by the sacred writers of the
New Testament, they never, in any case, contradict what they quote from
the Old, which cannot be said of the rabbins: they only explain what
they quote, or accommodate the passage to the facts then in question.
And who will venture to say that the Holy Spirit has not a right, in any
subsequent period, to explain and illustrate his own meaning, by showing
that it had a greater extension in the Divine mind than could have been
then perceived by men? And has HE not a right to add to what he has
formerly said, if it seem right in his own sight? Is not the whole of
the New Testament, an addition to the Old, as the apostolic epistles are
to the narrative of our Lord's life and acts, as given by the
Gusset, Wolf, Rosenmuller, and others, give four rules, according to
which, the phrase, that it might be fulfilled, may be applied in the New
RULE I. When the thing predicted is literally accomplished.
RULE II. When that is done, of which the Scripture has spoken, not in a
literal sense, but in a spiritual sense.
RULE III. When a thing is done neither in a literal nor spiritual sense,
according to the fact referred to in the Scripture; but is similar to
RULE IV. When that which has been mentioned in the Old Testament as
formerly done, is accomplished in a larger and more extensive sense in
the New Testament.
St. Matthew seems to quote according to all these rules; and it will be
useful to the reader to keep them constantly in view. I may add here,
that the writers of the New Testament seem often to differ from those of
the Old, because they appear uniformly to quote from some copy of the
Septuagint version; and most of their quotations agree verbally, and
often even literally, with one or other of the copies of that version
which subsist to the present day. Want of attention to the difference of
copies, in the Septuagint version, has led some divines and critics into
strange and even ridiculous mistakes, as they have taken that for THE
SEPTUAGINT which existed in the printed copy before them; which
sometimes happened not to be the most correct.
ON the birth-place of our Lord, a pious and sensible man has made the
"At the first sight, it seems of little consequence to know the place of
Christ's nativity; for we should consider him as our Redeemer, whatever
the circumstances might be which attended his mortal life. But, seeing
it has pleased God to announce, beforehand, the place where the Saviour
of the world should be born, it became necessary that it should happen
precisely in that place; and that this should be one of the
characteristics whereby Jesus Christ should be known to be the true
"It is also a matter of small importance to us where we may live,
provided we find genuine happiness. There is no place on earth, however
poor and despicable, but may have better and more happy inhabitants than
many of those are who dwell in the largest and most celebrated cities.
Do we know a single place on the whole globe where the works of God do
not appear under a thousand different forms, and where a person may not
feel that blessed satisfaction which arises from a holy and Christian
life? For an individual, that place is preferable to all others where he
can get and do most good. For a number of people, that place is best
where they can find the greatest number of wise and pious men. Every
nation declines, in proportion as virtue and religion lose their
influence on the minds of the inhabitants. The place where a young man
first beheld the dawn and the beauty of renewed nature, and with most
lively sensations of joy and gratitude adored his God, with all the
veneration and love his heart was capable of; the place where a virtuous
couple first met, and got acquainted; or where two friends gave each
other the noblest proofs of their most tender affection; the village
where one may have given, or seen, the most remarkable example of
goodness, uprightness, and patience; such places, I say, must be dear to
"Bethlehem was, according to this rule, notwithstanding its smallness, a
most venerable place; seeing that there so many pious people had their
abode, and that acts of peculiar piety had often been performed in it.
First, the patriarch Jacob stopped some time in it, to erect a monument
to his well-beloved Rachel. It was at Bethlehem that honest Naomi, and
her modest daughter-in-law, Ruth, gave such proofs of their faith and
holiness; and in it Boaz, the generous benefactor, had his abode and his
possessions. At Bethlehem the humble Jesse sojourned, the happy father
of so many sons; the youngest of whom rose from the pastoral life to the
throne of Israel. It was in this country that David formed the
resolution of building a house for the Lord, and in which he showed
himself the true shepherd and father of his subjects, when, at the sight
of the destroying angel, whose sword spread consternation and death on
all hands, he made intercession for his people. It was in Bethlehem that
Zerubbabel the prince was born, this descendant of David, who was the
type of that Ruler and Shepherd under whose empire Israel is one day to
assemble, in order to enjoy uninterrupted happiness. Lastly, in this
city the Son of God appeared; who, by his birth, laid the foundation of
that salvation, which, as Redeemer, he was to purchase by his death for
the whole world. Thus, in places which from their smallness are entitled
to little notice, men sometimes spring, who become the benefactors of
the human race. Often, an inconsiderable village has given birth to a
man, who, by his wisdom, uprightness, and heroism, has been a blessing
to whole kingdoms."
Sturm's Reflections, translated by A. C. vol. iv.
Family Bible Notes:
Nazareth; a place very much despised. Nazarene; one exceedingly
despised, as the prophets foretold that Jesus Christ would be. Isa
53:2,3. The fulfilment of prophecy in the person of Christ proves him to
be the true Messiah..
1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
(No comment on this verse)
People's New Testament Commentary:
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. Matthew makes no
mention of the previous residence at Nazareth, and he now names it first
when it becomes the home of Christ. It was an obscure village, nestled
in the hills about five hundred feet above the plain of Esdraelon, on
the side of Galilee. It is not named in the Old Testament, was probably
a small town in the time of Christ, but now has about six thousand
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets. Not by one
prophet, but the summing up of a number of prophecies. No prophet had
declared in express terms that he should be called a Nazarene. They,
however, did apply to Christ the term Nezer, from which Nazareth is
derived; the Nazarites, of whom Samson was one, were typical of Christ;
the meanness and contempt in which Nazareth was held was itself a
prophecy of one who "was despised and rejected." See Isa 53:3; 11:1; Jer
23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12.
Robertson's Word Pictures:
Should be called a Nazarene (Nazôraios klêthêsetai).
Matthew says "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets" (dia tôn prophêtôn). It is the plural and no single prophecy
exists which says that the Messiah was to be called a Nazarene. It may
be that this term of contempt (Joh 1:46; 7:52) is what is meant, and
that several prophecies are to be combined like Ps 22:6,8; 69:11,19; Isa
53:2,3,4. The name Nazareth means a shoot or branch, but it is by no
means certain that Matthew has this in mind. It is best to confess that
we do not know. See Broadus on Matthew for the various theories. But,
despised as Nazareth was at that time, Jesus has exalted its fame. The
lowly Nazarene he was at first, but it is our glory to be the followers
of the Nazarene. Bruce says that "in this case, therefore, we certainly
know that the historic fact suggested the prophetic reference, instead
of the prophecy creating the history." The parallels drawn by Matthew
between the history of Israel and the birth and infancy of Jesus are not
mere fancy. History repeats itself and writers of history find frequent
parallels. Surely Matthew is not beyond the bounds of reason or of fact
in illustrating in his own way the birth and infancy of Jesus by the
Providence of God in the history of Israel.
Albert Barnes' Commentary:
Nazareth. This was a small town, situated in Galilee, west of Capernaum,
and not far from Cana. It was built partly in a valley, and partly on
the declivity of a hill, Lu 4:29. A hill is yet pointed out, to the
south of Nazareth, as the one from which the people of the place
attempted to precipitate the Saviour. It was a place, at that time,
proverbial for wickedness, Joh 1:46. It is now a large village, with a
convent and two churches. One of the churches, called the church of the
Annunciation, is the finest in the Holy Land, except that of the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
A modern traveller describes Nazareth as situated upon the declivity of
a hill, the vale which spreads out before it resembling a circular
basin, encompassed by mountains. Fifteen mountains appear to meet to
form an enclosure for this beautiful spot, around which they rise like
the edge of a shell, to guard it against intrusion. It is a rich and
beautiful field in the midst of barren mountains.
Another traveller speaks of the streets as narrow and steep; the houses,
which are fiat-roofed, are about two hundred and fifty in number, and
the inhabitants he estimates at 2000. The population of the place is
variously stated, though the average estimate is 3000; of whom about
five hundred are Turks, and the residue nominal Christians.
As all testimony to the truth and fidelity of the sacred narrative is
important, we have thought ourselves justified in connecting with this
article a passage from the journal of Mr. Jowett, an intelligent modern
traveller; especially as it is so full an illustration of the passage of
Luke already cited:
"Nazareth is situated on the side, and extends nearly to the foot, of a
hill, which, though not very high, is rather steep and overhanging. The
eye naturally wanders over its summit, in quest of some point from which
it might probably be that the men of this place endeavoured to east our
Saviour down, (Lu 4:29) but in vain: no rock adapted to such an object
appears here. At the foot of the hill is a modest, simple plain,
surrounded by low hills, reaching in length nearly a mile; in breadth,
near the city, a hundred and fifty yards; but farther south, about four
hundred yards. On this plain there are a few olive and fig trees,
sufficient, or rather scarcely sufficient, to make the spot picturesque.
Then follows a ravine, which gradually grows deeper and narrower towards
the south; till, after walking about another mile, you find yourself in
an immense chasm, with steep rocks on either side, from whence you
behold, as it were beneath your feet, and before you, the noble plain of
Esdraelon. Nothing can be finer than the apparently immeasurable
prospect of this plain, bounded on the south by the mountains of
Samaria. The elevation of the hills on which the spectator stands in
this ravine is very great; and the whole scene, when we saw it, was
clothed in the most rich mountain-blue colour that can be conceived. At
this spot, on the right hand of the ravine, is shown the rock to which
the men of Nazareth are supposed to have conducted our Lord, for the
purpose of throwing him down. With the Testament in our hands, we
endeavoured to examine the probabilities of the spot; and I confess
there is nothing in it which excites a scruple of incredulity in my
mind. The rock here is perpendicular for about fifty feet, down which
space it would be easy to hurl a person who should be unawares brought
to the summit; and his perishing would be a very certain consequence.
That the spot might be at considerable distance from the city is an idea
not inconsistent with St. Luke's account; for the expression, thrusting
Jesus out of the city, and leading him to the brow of the hill, on which
their city was built, gives fair scope for imagining, that in their rage
and debate the Nazarenes might, without originally intending his murder,
press upon him for a considerable distance after they had quitted the
synagogue. The distance, as already noticed, from modern Nazareth to the
spot, is scarcely two miles; a space which, in the fury of persecution,
might soon be passed over. Or, should this appear too considerable, it
is by no means certain but that Nazareth may at that time have extended
through the principal part of the plain, which I have described as lying
before the modern town. In this case, the distance passed over might not
exceed a mile. I can see, therefore, no reason for thinking otherwise,
than that this may be the real scene where our Divine Prophet, Jesus,
received so great a dishonour from the men of his own country and of his
Mr. Fisk, an American missionary, was at Nazareth in the autumn of 1823.
His description Corresponds generally with that of Mr. Jowett. He
estimates the population to be from 3000 to 5000, viz., Greeks, three
hundred or four hundred families; Turks, two hundred; Catholics, one
hundred; Greek Catholics, forty or fifty; Maronites, twenty or thirty;
say in all seven hundred houses.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, etc. The
words here are not found in any of the books of the Old Testament; and
there has been much difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of this
passage. Some have supposed that Matthew meant to refer to Jg 13:5, to
Samson as a type of Christ; others that he refers to Isa 11:1, where the
descendant of Jesse is called "a Branch;" in the Hebrew Netzer. Some
have supposed that Matthew refers to some prophecy which was not
recorded, but handed down by tradition. But these suppositions are not
satisfactory. It is a great deal more probable that Matthew refers not
to any particular place, but to the leading characteristics of the
prophecies respecting him. The following remarks may make this clear:
1st. He does not say, "by the prophet, as in Mt 1:22; 2:5,15; but "by
the prophets," meaning no one particularly, but the general character of
2nd. The leading and most prominent prophecies respecting him were, that
he was to be of humble life, to be despised, and rejected. See Isa
53:2,3,7-9,12; Ps 22:1.
3rd. The phrase "he shall be called," means the same as he shall be.
4th. The character of the people of Nazareth was such that they were
proverbially despised and contemned, Joh 1:46; 7:52. To come from
Nazareth, therefore, or to be a Nazarene, was the same as to be
despised, and esteemed of low birth; to be a root out of dry ground,
having no form or comeliness. And this was the same as had been
predicted by the prophets. When Matthew says, therefore, that the
prophecies were fulfilled, it means, that the predictions of the
prophets that he should be of humble life, and rejected, were fully
accomplished in his being an inhabitant of Nazareth, and despised as
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth--a small town in Lower
Galilee, lying in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun, and about
equally distant from the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Sea of
Galilee on the east. Note--If, from Lu 2:39, one would conclude that the
parents of Jesus brought Him straight back to Nazareth after His
presentation in the temple--as if there had been no visit of the Magi,
no flight to Egypt, no stay there, and no purpose on returning to settle
again at Bethlehem--one might, from our Evangelist's way of speaking
here, equally conclude that the parents of our Lord had never been at
Nazareth until now. Did we know exactly the sources from which the
matter of each of the Gospels was drawn up, or the mode in which these
were used, this apparent discrepancy would probably disappear at once.
In neither case is there any inaccuracy. At the same time it is
difficult, with these facts before us, to conceive that either of these
two Evangelists wrote his Gospel with that of the other before
him--though many think this a precarious inference.
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be
called a Nazarene--better, perhaps, "Nazarene." The best explanation of
the origin of this name appears to be that which traces it to the word
netzer in Isa 11:1 --the small twig, sprout, or sucker, which the
prophet there says, "shall come forth from the stem (or rather, 'stump')
of Jesse, the branch which should fructify from his roots." The little
town of Nazareth, mentioned neither in the Old Testament nor in
JOSEPHUS, was probably so called from its insignificance: a weak twig in
contrast to a stately tree; and a special contempt seemed to rest upon
it--"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Joh 1:46) --over and
above the general contempt in which all Galilee was held, from the
number of Gentiles that settled in the upper territories of it, and, in
the estimation of the Jews, debased it. Thus, in the providential
arrangement by which our Lord was brought up at the insignificant and
opprobrious town called Nazareth, there was involved, first, a local
humiliation; next, an allusion to Isaiah's prediction of His lowly,
twig-like upspringing from the branchless, dried-up stump of Jesse; and
yet further, a standing memorial of that humiliation which "the
prophets," in a number of the most striking predictions, had attached to
Our Lord was called “Netzar”, THE BRANCH. Probably this is the prophecy
referred to; for “Nazareth “signifies sprouts or shoots. Possibly some
unrecorded prophecy, often repeated by the prophets, and known to all
the people, is here alluded to. Certainly he has long been called a
“Nazarene”, both by Jews and violent unbelievers. Spitting on the ground
many a time has his fierce adversary hissed out the name “Nazarene”, as
if it were the height of contempt. Yet, O Nazarene, thou hast triumphed!
"Jesus of Nazareth" is the greatest name among men. O Lord, my King, as
thou art dishonored by thy foes, so shalt thou be adored among thy
friends, with all their heart and all their soul. While others call thee
call thee Jesus — Jehovah, King of kings, and Lord of lords.
William Burkitt's Notes:
A threefold interpretation is given of these words, He shall be called a
Some read the words, 1. He shall be called a Nazarite. The Nazarites
were a religious and separate rank of persons among the Jews, who
abstained from wine, and came not near the dead, for fear of pollution.
Christ was a holy person, but no Nazarite, in a strict sense; for he
drank wine, and touched the dead.
2. Others read the words, He shall be called a Netzer, a branch, in
allusion to Isa 11:1 where he is called a branch of the root of Jesse.
Christ was that true branch of which the prophets had so often spoken.
3. Others will will have the word Nazarene refer to the city of
Nazareth, where Christ was conceived, and lived most of his time, He
shall be called a Nazarene, because he dwelt at Nazareth.
Hence his disciples were called the sect of the Nazarenes; that is, the
followers of him that dwelt at Nazareth; and Christ himself is pleased
to own the title, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. Ac 22:8
Learn from hence, The great humility of mind that was found in our
Savior. He was born at Bethlehem, a little city; he lived at Nazareth, a
poor, contemptible place: he aspired not after the grandeur of the
world, but was meek and lowly in spirit.
May the same humble mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus!
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all
the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful
power, often carries men to absurd cruelties. It was no unrighteous
thing with God to permit this; every life is forfeited to his justice as
soon as it begins. The diseases and deaths of little children are proofs
of original sin. But the murder of these infants was their martyrdom.
How early did persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin! Herod
now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament prophecies, and the
efforts of the wise men in finding Christ; but whatever crafty, cruel
devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand.
The Fourfold Gospel:
The prophets. Matthew uses the plural, "prophets," because this
prophecy is not the actual words of any prophet, but is the general
sense of many of them. We have noted three kinds of prophecy (see TFG
for Mt 2:17); this is the fourth kind, namely: one where the very trend
or general scope of Scripture is itself a prophecy.
That he should be called a Nazarene. The Hebrew word netzer means
"branch" or "sprout." It is used figuratively for that which is lowly or
despised (Isa 17:9; Eze 15:1-6; Mal 4:1). See also Joh 15:6; Ro 11:21.
Now, Nazareth, if derived from netzer, answered to its name, and was a
despised place (Joh 1:45,46), and Jesus, though in truth a Bethlehemite,
bore the name Nazarene because it fitly expressed the contempt of those
who despised and rejected him.