Title: The infancy of Jesus in Nazareth
Scriptures to Read: Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39a
Joseph returns with his family to live in Nazareth
When Herod dies, an angel appears to Joseph telling him to return to Israel. Herod’s kingdom was divided amongst his three sons. The one that was given to rule over Judea and Samaria was Archelaus. As bad as Herod was, Archelaus was worse. His reputation for jealousy of possible rivals and for general vindictiveness was equal to his father’s. When he had ascended to his throne he had 3000 Jews killed in the temple compound on Passover evening. Thus Joseph is afraid to return to Judea. Instead he returns with his family to live in Nazareth.
Four examples of how the New Testament writers quote the Jewish Scriptures
Now is a good time to briefly discuss how the New Testament quotes the Jewish Scriptures. The advantage of Matthew 2 is that you have an example of each one.
1. Literal statement with a literal fulfillment (Matthew 2:5-6)- Matthew quotes from the prophet Micah which is a literal prophecy with literal fulfillment. Micah 5:2 is literally fulfilled with the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem of Judea, and not the Bethlehem of Galilee.
2. Literal statement with a type of fulfillment (Matthew 2:14-15)– Matthew quotes from Hosea 11:1 which is a literal statement by Hosea, which was not even a prophecy but was an historical event, that happened centuries earlier. Hosea is referring back to the exodus where God called Israel, my first born, my Son. This is a literal statement with a typical type of fulfillment. Yeshua is God’s Son and as a type, He is called out of Egypt. The use of this method is mostly found in the book of Hebrews.
3. Literal statement with a fulfillment in application (Matthew 2:17-18)– Matthew quotes from Jeremiah 31:15. If we go back to the context of Jeremiah we find the sons of Israel being taken off to Babylon in captivity and the mothers of Ramah are coming out and weeping for the sons they will never see again. Because Rachel is buried near Ramah, the women of Ramah become the symbol of Rachel weeping for her children that she will never See again. So in Jeremiah 31:15 you have a literal historical event that was happening in Jeremiah’s day. Its fulfilment is in the application. The event of Herod murdering the children in Bethlehem has nothing to do with Jeremiah’s historical event except for one similarity. The application that Matthew is making of Jeremiah is that the mothers (Rachel) of Bethlehem are weeping for children that they will never see again, and Rachel symbolizes all the others of Bethlehem who lost their children on that day.
4. The fourth area is summation. Matthew 23 says: “It was fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene”. Nowhere in any of the prophets do you find this as a quote. You can spend the rest of your life looking for it, but you will not find it because it is not there! Notice that uses “prophets” which is plural. So what’s up? Matthew is summarizing what the prophets said. What was a Nazarene in the context of the first century? It was someone who was despised and rejected. In general, the Judeans looked down on the Galileans, partly because all the rabbinic schools were in Judea and not in Galilee. The rabbis had a saying: “If you want to be rich, go to the north, if you want to have wisdom, go south”. So Judeans looked down on the Galileans, but Galileans looked down on people from Nazareth. Back then they did not tell Polish or Italian jokes. They told Nazarene jokes. And the prophets said the Messiah would be a despised and rejected individual. And that is clarified in the word Nazarene.