In discussions with Christians on the validity and authenticity of the
biblical scriptures, Muslims often raise the question about the
statement made in the Matthew 2:23:

'...he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what  
 was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."  '

The reason for this is that, quite correctly, Muslims state that there
is no such specific prophecy in the bible.  They infer from this that
therefore one or more of the following must be true:

a)  the bible has been altered
b)  sections of the bible are missing (including the prophecy quoted in 
    Matt 2)
c)  the New Testament is (at least partially) fabricated and therefore 

However, an examination of the Old Testament prophecies, and the context
and form of the statement in Matt 2, show that this inference is, in
fact, incorrect.

Firstly, let us look at the way in which Matthew refers to the Nazarene

"So was fulfilled what was said through the PROPHETS"

Note that the writer does not refer to a particular prophet or prophecy.
This kind of reference is very rare in the New Testament.  The general
means of referring to a fulfilled prophecy is to at least refer to "the
prophet" (any devout Jew would know which one), or else to name the
prophet who gave the prediction, e.g.

Matt 1:22-23
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they
will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."

Matt 1:5
"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has

Matt 2:17-18
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,...."

Matt 3:3
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one
calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight
paths for him.'"

Mark 1:2
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of
you, who will prepare your way"--

Luke 3:4
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of
you, who will prepare your way"--

John 12:38
This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has
believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"

(see also Matt 4:14, 8:17, 12:12, 12:39; Luke 4:17; John 1:23; Acts
2:16, 7:48, 8:28, 8:30 and many more) 

The use of the more general term, "the prophets", is used only on three
occasions in the gospels to refer to fulfilled prophecy.  The first is
in Matt 2; the other two are

Matt 26:55-56
At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that
you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat
in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.
But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be

John 6:44-45
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I
will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.'
Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

In each of these two cases, Jesus uses "the prophets" to indicate the
general effect or result of what God had foretold through various
prophets, rather than to refer to a specific prophecy - there is none in
the Old Testament prophetic literature that makes those exact
prophecies, but there are various prophecies that, if read as a whole,
show that this is what God intends.

It may therefore reasonably be assumed that Matthew's reference to "the
prophets" is used in the same way, and that we should therefore not
expect to find a single, specific prophecy, but rather a group to that

Having established this (and therefore having solved at least one of the
objections listed above), it remains to identify the prophecies
involved, and to see how they can be said to refer to Jesus' being known
as a Nazarene.

In doing this, an understanding of the significance of the term
"Nazarene" is, of course, very helpful.  In the Palestine of Jesus'
time, the whole region of Galilee and its inhabitants, and in particular
Nazareth, were looked upon in a very negative way by other Israelites
(perhaps because Galilee had often been occupied by pagan nations during
Israel's history (e.g. Tiglath-Pileser the king of Assyria, Hiram king
of Tyre).  There is ample scriptural evidence to support the conclusion
that Galilee and Nazareth were looked down on, even despised:

Matt 4:15
"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the
Jordan, Galilee of the *Gentiles*--" (i.e. pagans)

John 7:52
They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will
find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee."

John 1:46
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come
and see," said Philip.

Now there are very many prophecies in the Old Testament to the effect
that the Messiah would be despised and mistreated, even though he is
righteous.  Certainly, there are sufficient instances to warrant
Matthew's use of the generic description, "the prophets", rather than
referring to each specific prophet in turn.  However, here are a few of
the specific references:

Psa 22:6,7
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
"He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."

Isa 53:2,3
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry
ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his
appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with
suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and
we esteemed him not.

Psa 118:22
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;

In summary, then, the word "Nazarene" in Jesus' time, while still
literally referring to someone from Nazareth, had become more or less a
synonym for despised.  Certainly, the Israelites were (rightly)
convinced that no prophet could originate in that lowly place (although
Jesus in fact only grew up there, and was born in Bethlehem, the town
from which the Messiah was to come).  These facts, and the many
messianic prophecies concerning the rejection of the Messiah by the
people of his day, led Matthew to use general terms (following the
example of Jesus) in referring to the effect of the prophecies that the
Messiah would be rejected and held in contempt.  The verse could be
paraphrased, for the purpose of this discussion, in the following way:

'...he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what  
was said through the prophets: "He will be despised and referred to

which, far from contradicting or undermining the authority and
authenticity of the biblical scriptures, is in fact a demonstration that
God is faithful to the words he gave to his prophets.

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