Long ago, I read (where, I don’t recall) that this town didn’t exist until the second half of the first century and that Jesus of Nazareth was really Jesus, the Nazarene.(The Nazarenes being an underground movement striving for an independent Judah.)
“Nazarite” is a special group of religiously inspired people. I’m writing from work, so I don’t have the reference – it’s mentioned somewhere in Numbers, I think. [Num 6:1-21] To be consecrated as a Nazar (English: Nazarite), you didn’t shave or cut your hair, and you didn’t drink any alcohol or wine. The most notable examples of Nazarites in the Bible are Samson (obvious) and (presumably from I Samuel 1:11) Samuel. They were certainly not an “underground movement striving for an independent Judah.”
I don’t know about the founding of the city of Nazareth without some research, which I’ll try to do over the weekend.
Note: I have (ahem) asked the moderator to amend this post, following my embarrassment and memory failure, and the correction as noted by Tomndeb below. Amendment has also included sticking in the text references.
[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]
Thanks, Dex. The word, “cult” was the description that first sprang from my memory, but that seemed a little inflammatory. Somehow I think my description was subconciously inspired by a scene from “The Life of Brian”.
There is a pun in Matthew on the words Nazoraios (inhabitant of Nazareth in Greek), notzri (inhabitant of Naareth in Hebrew), nazar (Nazarite, or Nazarene in the non-residential sense) and netzer (branch), that attempts to justify Jesus’s Messianic status. In fact, there is no indication that Messiah will or ought to be a Nazarite, or will or ought to take take a Nazarite vow. Isaiah 11:1 probably calls him a “netzer”, or branch (i.e., a new branch from the Davidic dynasty), although some authorities prefer to read the word as natzar (guard).
“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”
A Nazarene is an inhabitant of the town of Nazareth.
A Nazirite is a person consecrated to God who eschews hair cutting, wine, and touching a corpse.
(Both words are the current English words for earlier words in Greek and, earlier still, Hebrew.)
I have never seen the relationship between inhabitants of Nazareth and the Nazirites expressed (except by speakers of English who confuse the terms). Aside from Samson, the Nazirites do not have a history of violence (and they predate Roman occupation by many years). That does not preclude the speculation in the OP from being true (witness the Fenians), but I still find it remarkable that I have never encountered that theory, before.
This explanation, while in no way conclusive, certainly opens up the possibility that the village was associated with Jesus by early Christians looking for prophecies. As to the age of the village, I have never heard that it was built in the “late” first century. It was a dinky little town and the only archaeological evidence from the first century is the well, but I have not seen a specific date for it.
Dex, I’m pretty sure Jesus is documented as having drunk wine. Or at least Scripture sort of leads us to believe he did. His first recorded miracle was the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and his behavior at the Last Supper would indicate that he was not unfamiliar with the rites (and therefore the wine-drinking) of Passover.
Since Tom also mentions that Nazirites were not to touch corpses, then Christ’s raising from the dead of more than one person may also put the kibosh on that interpretation of the term as it relates to Jesus.
Matthew 2:23 reads: “and he (Joseph, with Mary and the child Jesus) went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” (NIV) Luke also mentions that, during his ministry, Jesus went to Nazareth, where he grew up. So apparently, the city did exist in Jesus’s day.
Dex, I’d be interested in reading what you found out about the actual founding of the city itself. The only reference I have in this regard is the NIV Bible, but, hey, if it was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me.
“since my daughter’s only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?” J.H. Marx
Well, given the holiday and all, I confess I haven’t done much research… but the city of Nazareth is NOT mentioned in either the Old Testament nor the Talmud. So there was no prophecy of the Messiah being a Nazarite OR a Nazarene OR a Nazar-anything.
The term Nazarenes was apparently self-applied to Jesus’ followers in the early years after his death… so it’s not just an inhabitant of the city of Nazareth.
I the town of Nazareth (Natzrat in Hebrew) is mentioned in a very early mourning poem describing the 24 towns where the priests were stationed. It is read on the fast day of Tisha B’Av. The poem is based on a talmudic text (a baraita) in the tractate Taanit in the Jerusalem Talmud, but I haven’t been able to find the exact source. I’m therefore not sure if Nazareth is mentioned explicitly in that baraita.
One think to remeber is the persistance of mistranslation of older works (such as the bible) from many languages. For example one such mistranslation envolves moses where it states he has rays of light streaming out of his head, this was similar to the word for horns. Michaelangelo goofed and it resulted in this statue:
I doubt he’s the only one and I’m sure the english version is less then 100% accurate at present to the original.
While looking around for information on the Qemant of Ethiopia, I came across this site which purports to be the Nazirite sect, reconstituted. Come to think of it, I’m on a vegetarian mailing list which also includes an Islamic self-styled Nazirite who really believes he’s a member of this ancient sect. He’s always insisting that Jesus was a vegetarian, though when I try to pin him down on proof for this, his replies are vague. (As if I could care less whether or not Jesus was vegetarian! What difference would it make? I still like being vegetarian myself either way.) What does a latter-day Nazirite sound like? His language has a Rastafari influence, always going on about “Babylon” and the like.