Some people outside the Kehila ask us why we call ourselves Messianic Jews Netzarim, especially “Netzarim”. First we explain that the Jewish Messianism is unfortunately going through a difficult time, because some congregations claim to be Jewish but are almost never truly, from the heart, observant of the Torah and the commandments of Elohim, as Yeshua shows us in Matthew 19:17 to the rich young man: “But if you want to enter into life, Keep the commandments.”
Then we tell them about Paul, the “leader of the sect of the Nazarenes” found in Acts 24:5, and they respond as if they already know the fact. But it really means so much more.
WHERE DOES THE NAME COME FROM?
In Matthew 2:22-23 the text of the Nazarene Writings states that Yosef, father of Yeshua, “When he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there; and warned by Elohim in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee; (23) And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was said through the prophets might be fulfilled: He shall be called a Nazarene (Netzarim of netzer (Isa 11:1).“
This seems blunt at first glance, but:
1.In the Tanack there is no mention of a city called “Nazareth”.
2.In the Tanack there is no prophet who spoke about the Messiah being called “Nazarene.”
3.La Greek word “Nazoraíos” (G3480) (Nazarenes) does not come from the Greek word “Nazaréds” (G3478) (Nazareth).
It is interesting to note that some of the historians of Yeshua’s time and some years later name somewhat different things from these texts and these supposed historical accounts.
LET’S LOOK AT SOME OF THESE TEXTS
Eusebius in Church History (Book 1:7:14) speaking of the Savior’s family says, “They lived in the Jewish villages of Nazarah and Cocaba, and went all over the country explaining the genealogy given here of their lineage and quoting the book of daily records as much as they could.”
(Note: in the original in English, page 37, they placed “Nazareth”, but in the original in English and in Greek it says “Nazara”).
Epiphanius in his book Panarion in Chapter 29:1 and 2 says, “For these people did not put on themselves the name of Christ or the name of Yeshua, but of ‘Nazarenes.’ but at that time all Christians alike were called Nazarenes. They were also known as “Isaians” for a short time, before disciples began to be called to Christians in Antioch. They were called “Isaians” because of Isai, I suppose, since David was a descendant of Jesse and Mary was a linear descendant of David. This was in fulfilment of Holy Scripture, since in the Old Testament the Lord says to David, “From the fruit of your womb I will configure your throne.”
Based on these two historical notes and on Luke 1:26 of the Sinaitic Code (350 AD) which says verbatim “a city of Judea, called Nazara” we can deduce the following:
1.If the name “Isaians” comes from Isaai the grandfather of David, then the prophet mentioned in Matthew 2:23, corresponds to Isaiah 11:1 which says, “And a sapling shall spring forth from the trunk of Jesse, and a stem of his roots shall bear fruit.”
2.The word for “stem” in Hebrew is: netzer נֵ֫צֶר (H3342) meaning “branch.” And the word that comes from it is “Netzarim” = “Branches”.
3.Nazara is from Judea, not from Galilee, which is a different province. 4.Therefore we are “Netzarim”, branches of the stem planted in the wild olive tree (Israel)
Let’s look at the words of Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) speaking to the Jews in Romans 11:16-21, remember:
Silvester Olive (Mass) = Israel (Jews)
Root = Yeshua and
Branches = We the converts to Yeshua, the Netzarim
Romans 11:16-21 “And if the first piece of dough is holy, so is the whole dough; And if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted among them and were made partakers with them of the rich sap of the root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant to the branches; But if you are arrogant, remember that you are not the one who sustains the root, but the root is the one who sustains you. You will say then: The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted. Very true; They were torn apart by their unbelief, but you stand firm by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear; for if Elohim did not forgive the natural branches, he will not forgive you either.”
That is why we followers of Yeshua, grafted into Judaism, observants of Torah and the Mitzvot of Elohim, are called “Netzarim.”
Note: Not to be confused with the “Church of Nazarene”
Blessings to all
Rabbi Yosef Ben Marques © 2016-22