Joseph goes to Nazareth (Mt 2:23-1:23)

“There Joseph

Made his home

In a town called

Nazareth.

Thus,

What was spoken

Through the prophets

Might be fulfilled.

‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

 

Joseph took his family to a specific place in lower Galilee, a city called Nazareth (ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ). Somehow, this fulfilled a prophecy (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) about being called a Nazarene (ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται). Some of Jesus’ followers were called Nazarenes. He was also known as Jesus of Nazareth since this was his childhood home. People have been living in Nazareth for nearly 5.000 years, with over 75,000 people today, as the largest Arab city in Israel. Nazareth may have had a population of about 400 at the time of Jesus. The town of Nazareth is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 miles west of Mount Tabor, but over 100 miles from Jerusalem. It is difficult to pinpoint where this prophecy comes from. In Judges, chapter 13:2-7, there is a comment that a boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. Thus, he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. According to Numbers, chapter 6:1-21, there were rules laid out for those who would take the Nazirite vows. They would not drink wine, nor shave their beards. They were not to go near a corpse. They had to bring special offerings to the Temple. This separation and special consecration may have been present among other ancient people, but here it is under Mosaic Law. The normal time period, according to some rabbinic schools, was about a month of Nazirite vows, although others may have been longer. Some have referred to John the Baptist as a Nazirite. On top of that, Jesus of Nazareth may have been confused with Jesus the Nazirite. Is that the case here?

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Jonah goes to Nineveh (Jon 3:3-3:3)

“Thus,

Jonah set out for Nineveh.

He went to Nineveh,

According to

The word of Yahweh.

Now Nineveh was

An exceedingly large city.

It would take three days

To walk across it.”

This time the response of Jonah was quite different.  Instead of running away, Jonah went to Nineveh as the word of Yahweh had instructed him.  Next, we have a short description of this Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians, a very large city that would take 3 days to walk across it.  Actually, it was only about 3 miles wide and 1½ miles wide.  It was one of the largest cities in the ancient world until the civil war of 612 BCE, probably with a population of around 120,000 people.  Geographically, Nineveh was on the outskirts of modern day Mosul, Iraq, on the east bank of the Tigris River.

The new increasing flocks in Israel (Ezek 36:37-36:38)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will also

Let the house of Israel

Ask me

To do this

For them.

I will increase

Their population

Like a flock,

Like the flock

For sacrifices,

Like the flock

At Jerusalem

During her appointed festivals.

Thus,

Shall the ruined towns

Be filled

With flocks of people.

Then they shall know

That I am Yahweh.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared the growth in humans in Israel to that of an ever-increasing flock of animals. He was going to increase the whole population of Israel. He would increase those showing up for sacrifices at the appointed religious festivals in Jerusalem. Those ruined towns would have more people just as the flock of animals and birds increases. Finally, they would all know that Yahweh was their God.