Matthew Quotes from the Prophets -Part 1: Judges

From Judges

In Matthew chapter 2 verse 23 the writer of Matthew makes a reference that he is quoting from one of the prophets by stating, “was spoken by the prophets”. He then goes on in this verse with; “he shall be called a Nazarene”.1 It is implied as a quote from the Tanach and from one of the Prophets. The margin of my New King James Bible, references Judges 13:5.

This is the story of Sampson:

An angle of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold now – you are barren and have not given birth, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. And be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For you shall conceive and give birth to a son; a razor shall not come upon his head, for the lad shall be a nazirite of God from the womb, and will begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines’.

Judges 13:3-5 (based on the JPS version)

We learn in the first two verses that Israel was evil in the eyes of God, so God had delivered them into the hand of the Philistines. Manoah a man from the tribe of Dan, from Zorah, was married. His wife was barren and had never given birth.

God is sending Sampson from the tribe of Dan to deliver the Israelites from there oppression. God had given Sampson a super human strength to accomplish his purpose as the deliverer. A condition established by God for Sampson to retain this strength was to live his life as as a Nazirite from birth. Sampson complied with the condition his entire life, until shortly before his death when his hair was cut.

What is a Nazirite?

Sampson was to be a Nazirite from birth to death. What makes a Nazarite different from anyone else? Why did God want Sampson to be a Nazirite?

The book of Numbers 6:1-21 lays out the standards of the “Nazirite”.

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them:

When either man or woman shall clearly utter a vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to consecrate himself unto the LORD,

he shall abstain from wine and strong drink: he shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or dried.

All the days of his Naziriteship shall he eat nothing that is made of the grape-vine, from the pressed grapes even to the grapestone.

All the days of his vow of Naziriteship there shall no razor come upon his head; until the days be fulfilled, in which he consecrateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow long.

All the days that he consecrateth himself unto the LORD he shall not come near to a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die; because his consecration unto God is upon his head. All the days of his Naziriteship he is holy unto the LORD. And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defile his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall prepare one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering, and make atonement for him, for that he sinned by reason of the dead; and he shall hallow his head that same day. And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his Naziriteship, and shall bring a he-lamb of the first year for a guilt-offering; but the former days shall be void, because his consecration was defiled.

And this is the law of the Nazirite, when the days of his consecration are fulfilled: he shall bring it unto the door of the tent of meeting; and he shall present his offering unto the LORD, one he-lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt-offering, and one ewe-lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin-offering, and one ram without blemish for peace-offerings, and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and their meal-offering, and their drink-offerings. And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin-offering, and his burnt-offering. And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace-offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall offer also the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof. And the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tent of meeting, and shall take the hair of his consecrated head, and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace-offerings. And the priest shall take the shoulder of the ram when it is sodden, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazirite, after he hath shaven his consecrated head. And the priest shall wave them for a wave-offering before the LORD; this is holy for the priest, together with the breast of waving and the thigh of heaving; and after that the Nazirite may drink wine.

This is the law of the Nazirite who voweth, and of his offering unto the Lord for his Naziriteship, beside that for which his means suffice; according to his vow which he voweth, so he must do after the law of his Naziriteship.

Numbers 6:1-21 (JPS)

There are four major requirements to follow while under the vow of the Nazirite; (a) to not drink wine or any strong drink, (b) to not eat anything that is from grapes, (c) to not cut your hair, (d) to not be near a dead body. These are followed with what to do if a person happens to die in your presence, and what is required upon completion of the vow.

I believe that “consecration” is the key word in taking the vow of the Nazirite. During the time an Israelite decides to be under this vow they are “consecrated unto the Lord”. To be consecrated, you are dedicated or set apart for a sacred purpose.2

Sampson was dedicated and set apart for the purpose that the angle of the Lord described to his mother: he will begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines”3. He was born a Nzirite, as his mother was required to follow the same laws while pregnant with him4. He wasn’t only a Nazirite from birth but from conception.

Matthew refers to a Nazarene

The writer of Matthew states in chapter 2 verse 23 two phrases that according to the New King James version of the Christian Bible is referring to Judges 13:5.

“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 2:23

A reference to Nazarene or Nazareth is not mentioned by the prophets in the Tanch (Old Testament). It also is not mentioned in the Torah, or the Writings. The Tanach does not prophecy about a messiah that will dwell in any city.

A similar reference is also given by the writer of John:

“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’”

John 1:45 (NKJ)

This verse infers that a prophet in the Tanach makes mention of Nazareth and that the person in question will come from their, and will be the son of Joseph. The New King James Bible margin gives

Isaiah 4;2, 7;14, 9;6; Micah. 5;2; Zechariah 6;12 as references. These references do not mention Nazareth, or son of Joseph. Also the margin gives Genesis 3:15, and Deuteronomy 18:18 for the Torah reference. Likewise these references do not support this inference as well.

What is a Nazarene?

A Nazarene is simply a person from Nazareth. Nazareth is a city located in the Galilee area of northern Israel. The Hebrew word for Nazareth is Netzer, translates to English as branch.

Netzer a Branch

Netzer can be found in Isaiah chapter 11 verse 1.

“And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots.”

Isaiah 11:1 (JPS)

Sometimes reading a verse after being translated can be a little confusing, because the translator may translate a Hebrew word one way one time and use a different word another time. I inserted the Hebrew words and their respective English counterparts to help with understanding this verse a little better. Three of these words can be switched around in the English format.

And there shall come forth a choter (branch or twig, rod) out of the geza (a stock, stem) of Jesse, and a netzer (branch) shall grow forth out of his shoresh (a root).

Isaiah 11:1

It is commonly accepted that Isaiah 11 is a messianic chapter and prophecy. I see this first verse referring to Jesse as the foundational stock or stem. Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, part of the tribe of Judah. He was the patriarch, the father of King David. From out of Jesse would come a choter or a twig. This twig would be Jesse’s son, the King of Israel – King David. And then the verse continues by saying that a netzer or a branch will grow out of Davids shoresh or root. The growth could be seen as the Davidic line of succession to the throne of Israel. As a side note: the line to King David has to pass through King Solomon, and not any of his other sons5. I can not see any indication of this verse making any reference to netzer as the city of Nazareth.

In Conclusion

The writer of Matthew states in chapter 2 verse 23, “which was spoken by the prophets ‘He shall be called a Nazarene”. There is no record in the Prophets or in the Tanach of this prophecy. The only conclusion I can draw is, that prior to making this statement, the author of Matthew failed in his research of the the prophets. I believe that a statement of this caliber, speaking of a prophecy that does not exist, leads to the writers credibility. It leads to the question; why would you make this statement if it doesn’t exist? Could it be to create, or promote an image that if not stated, would not exist? If the writer makes statements of this nature that are not trustworthy, can I trust anything else he writes? I believe this is part of creating an image of Jesus that is deceptive?

by, Jim Behnke

1From the New King James Bible

2According to

3Judges 13:5

4Judges 13:4

51 Chronicles 22:9-10; 28:5; 1 Kings 1:31 (Let my lord King David live forever – indicates the Davidic line to continue through King Solomon)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s