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In the sixth month

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the angel GABRIEL to a city in GALILEE

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the name

of which was NAZARETH,

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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS sent the messenger who was THE MIGHT OF GOD to a town in THE HEATHEN CIRCLE, to the place of the HOLY SPROUT,



“in the sixth month,” is all the text says but the context clearly points to the pregnancy of Elizabeth as the gauge by which this time-frame is being measured.


The name Galilee comes from a word meaning “rod, cylinder, circle, or circuit.” But Galilee’s reputation at the time of Jesus was more than that. It was surrounded by pagans—Syria to the North, Tyre and Sidon to the West, Samaria to the South, and desert lands to the East. It also had many Gentiles living within its boundaries because it was a fertile area; even though Galilee was small it boasted 204 towns and villages. But because of the number of Gentiles living there, Mt 4:15 refers to it as “Galilee of the Gentiles,” and the Jews from outside Galilee called it “the heathen circle.”


The first thing to be noted about Nazareth is that it is not mentioned in other ancient texts, including the Old Testament, only the New Testament. It appears that God intentionally had Jesus grow up in an insignificant, unheard of place we could call “Nowhereville.” This perception of Nazareth as “Nowhereville” is not based on size, for there were smaller towns in that area, rather it is based on a seeming lack of importance in the previously recorded history of the Jewish people. Nothing significant had ever happened there meriting inclusion in the historical records. I have chosen to not include “Nowhereville” in the paraphrase column because it would be too cumbersome, so this footnote is the only place where I mention this additional aspect of the place where Jesus grew up.

Although we cannot be sure of the meaning of the name Nazareth, there are several possibilities. In the Hebrew mind, the word Nazareth would have three primary letters, called radicals, followed by a suffixed ending; those three letters would have been NZR, or possibly NTZR (the TZ sound is made by one Hebrew letter). The words “sprout” and “guard or watch tower,” are possible meanings from the root letters NTZR. The meaning “set apart or consecrated” would come from the root letters NZR. We cannot be sure which word it was named after because we only see the name in Greek, not in Hebrew. The idea of a watch tower may come from the fact that a prominent hill stands outside of the town. The idea of being “set apart,” which is the main idea behind “holy or sanctified,” could have come from some unrecorded event in the location’s history; and the same could be said of “shoot or branch.” The idea of a “shoot or sprout” was closely tied to the God’s prophecies about a remnant remaining and being used to restore the entire people of God. Regarding a connection to Jesus it would seem that “set apart/holy” and “branch/shoot/sprout” would be the most logical meanings. It is not a stretch to think that God, knowing in advance what would happen and where it would happen, caused a town to be given a name which sounded like “holy” and “sprout” in preparation for His Son in human form to grow up there. The name sounded like both those possible roots and it is quite likely that both root meanings would come to mind when a Jew of Jesus’ day said the name. Therefore, even though they come from different roots, I have chosen for the paraphrase column to use “holy sprout” as the most desirable meaning for Nazareth.