Matthew 2:23b meaning

Matthew finishes this chapter by telling his readers that Jesus’s upbringing in Nazareth is the (fifth) direct fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy.

Matthew cites the prophecy: He shall be called a Nazarene. But upon inspection there is no phrase in the entire Old Testament that appears to say these words, in English translations.

Why then does Matthew says Jesus living in Nazareth was to fulfill what was spoken through prophets?

We don’t really know, but since Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience to prove Jesus is the Messiah, it would not make any sense for him to include a fulfillment of a prophecy that was not generally accepted by his intended audience, and readily recognizable to a Jewish reader. So we are left to speculate as to the linguistic match for Matthew’s assertion. It may be based on a word-connection between “Nazareth” and the Hebrew word for “Shoot” or “Branch” – “Nestor.” Perhaps Nazareth is akin to “Nestor-villeor some other connection that would be obvious to a Jewish eye. The prophet Isaiah prophesies that a “nestor” will shoot up from the “stem of Jesse” (King David’s father) or from King David’s line.

Isaiah 11:1-2,

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch (Nestor) from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

By linking Nazareth and Nestor phonetically and prophetically, in a very Jewish sense, it seems plausible that Matthew here cleverly claims that Jesus being raised in Nazareth is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s “Nestor” prophecy. A prophecy which further strengthens Jesus’s kinship with King David. As the Messiah, Jesus is the Nestor that rises from the stem of Jesse, full of the Spirit. And He hails from Nazareth.

2:23b This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

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