23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23, NASB)
Muslims ask about Matthew 2:23 – “where is it written in the prophets that Messiah would be called a Nazarene?”
First, notice it says, “through the prophets” – plural. So he is speaking of a general concept that is in more than one prophet. “that what was spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23) “Nararene” – a Nazer – נצר – nzr – a rejected branch. Nazareth was a rejected city in the North, in “Galilee of the Gentiles”; it was rejected by the Jews in the south and around Jerusalem, since it was a Galilean town. (northern, Gentile, defiled by non-Jews). “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46; see also John 7:41 and 7:52)
So, “Nazareth” describes Jesus being rejected by the Jews. Isaiah 14:19 – “like a rejected branch” = כְּנֵצֶר נִתְעָב כ = like נצר = NZR, Nazer, branch נתעב = rejected, despised Isaiah 11:1 – “then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse (father of David); and a branch (Nazer – נצר ) from his roots will bear fruit.” (see rest of Isaiah 11:1-10 – a very Messianic passage in the Jews minds. This is referred to in Acts 13:22-23; and Isaiah 11:10 is quoted in Romans 15:12)
Isaiah 53:1-3 – concept of rejection, tender shoot, root out of dry ground
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:1-3)
There is another word for the Messiah as a “branch” צמח used often, combined with the concepts of a shoot (of a plant), root, sprout, and despised, shows that Matthew had many passages in mind when he wrote, “as it is spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” = despised, rejected. Jeremiah 23:5 – Messiah will be a righteous branch. (צמח) Jeremiah 33:15 – a righteous branch (צמח )of David will spring forth Isaiah 4:2 – “branch of the Lord” (צמח) Zechariah 3:8 – “they are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the branch.” (צמח) Zechariah 6:12 – the one whose name is “Branch” (צמח) There are several words for “branch”(צמח is used more often) with root and shoot (Isaiah 53:1-3; 11:1) and “Nezer” (נצר) is not always used in every passage. But the concept of a branch, with the concepts of “shoot” and “root” and “rejected”; and the concept of being rejected combines all these passages as demonstrating what Matthew 2:23 was referring to.