Which Old Testament prophecy mentions Jesus coming from Nazareth?


Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Old Testament, so isn't Matthew mistaken? (Matt. 2:22-23). And if the birth of Jesus is in question, isn't his whole life?


Matthew 2:22-23: But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

First, the Bible says it was “spoken by the prophets” that Jesus would be called a Nazarene (Greek, Nazarenos meaning a Nazarene, an inhabitant of Nazareth), and didn’t say it is “written in the prophets.” So, while it may have been written too, it was definitely spoken. The New Testament bears witness to the fulfillment of this prophecy (cf. Mark 10:47; 14:67; 16:6; Luke 24:19; John 18:5, 7; 19:19; Acts 2:22); Jesus even calls himself "Jesus the Nazarene" (Acts 22:8).

Second, while some make the doubtful claim this prophecy is a word play on the Hebrew word nester (meaning “branch”) in Isaiah 11:1, most likely the key to interpreting Matthew 2:23 rests in the terms "prophets", "Nazareth", and "Nazarene." Matthew uses the plural "prophets," not the singular "prophet.” So, we are dealing with what many prophets understood, not just one. The word "Nazareth" was a derogatory term in the time of Christ (cf. John 1:46), and "Nazarene" was even used as a slur word (cf. Acts 24:5). With all this in mind, there were a number of prophecies (plural) that foretold that the Christ, or the Messiah, would be despised and rejected by many of his contemporaries (cf. Psa. 22:6-8, 11-13; 69:7-9, 20-21; 109:25; Isa. 11:1; 49:7; 53:2-3, 8).

This prophecy concerning Jesus is true and therefore the accuracy and integrity regarding the remainder of his life, death, and resurrection are upheld.

"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).