Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Matthew 2:19–23

Matthew 2:19–23: The Return to Nazareth

Synopsis

This passage begins with Herod’s death, and a message to Joseph (in another dream) that it’s safe to return to Israel. However, he later hears that Herod’s son Archelaus is now ruling in Herod’s place. I guess this is a bad thing, because Joseph gets another dream, warning him to withdraw to a region of Israel called Galilee, where he settles in Nazareth. We are told that this happens so that the word of the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (verse 23 (ESV) ).

But for more on that, see the Thoughts section below.

Thoughts

I was looking for an Old Testament citation, for the “He shall be called a Nazarene” quote, but it turns out that Matthew isn’t quoting any specific Old Testament prophecy. According to the ESV Study Bible, essentially Matthew is referring to a general theme in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be despised, and apparently the people from Nazareth in Jesus’ day were also despised. (Either that, they say, or it might be some kind of word play, since the word “Nazareth” sounds like the word for “branch” in Hebrew, which was also a designation for the Messiah.)
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