Jesus Christ



51. Why was Jesus called “a Nazarene’ or ‘the Nazarene’? Maybe because He had taken the vow of a Nazirite?




Jesus Christ was called a Nazarene not because He had taken the vow of a Nazirite but because He was brought up in a city of Galilee called Nazareth. We deduce this from what Matthew says about the return of Joseph to Israel; here are his words: “But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:19-23).

Therefore, what we learn from these words is that at that time the inhabitants of Nazareth were called Nazarenes.

On the other hand, the Bible says that some people were nicknamed according to the town or the tribe where they lived: Jesse, the father of David, is called “the Bethlehemite” (1 Samuel 16.18 – NKJV), because he lived in the city of Bethlehem, in the land of Judah; Abishag, that lovely young woman who cared for king David and served him, was called “a Shunammite” (1 Kings 1:3) because she was from Shunem; also that woman whose son the prophet Elisha raised from the dead was called “the Shunammite” (2 Kings 4:25 – NKJV) because she lived in Shunem (2 Kings 4:8).

Jesus Christ was not called Nazarene because He had taken the vow of a Nazirite or because He was a Nazirite from the womb as Samson was, for a Nazirite had to abstain among other things from wine and from vinegar made from wine (Numbers 6:1-4), while Jesus drank some wine on the night in which He was betrayed (Matthew 26:29), and some sour wine immediately before He breathed His last (John 19:28-30).

That’s why we can’t say that Jesus was a Nazirite, because to say such a thing would tantamount to saying that Jesus broke the law.