NAZARITE OR NAZARENE?


by Avram Yehoshua

The pictures of Jesus. All have a short beard and very long hair. From Leviticus 19:27 we know that he could never have trimmed his beard or shaved. And most give Him long hair for one reason or another, something very effeminate, because they think that He was under the vow of the Nazarite (Numbers 6:1ff). But references to Yeshua being a Nazarene relate to His growing up and coming from the town of Nazareth (Matthew 2:23).

In English, the town (Nazareth) and the vow in Numbers (Nazarite), seem to be similar. But in Hebrew they are two totally different words. The town, transliterated, would be: Nats-raht. While the vow would be: nah-zear.

It becomes very clear then, that what the Gospels are doing is not making Jesus out to be the 'vow taker' but 'the Branch' for the meaning of Nazareth is 'branch,' a very powerful messianic title used by a number of prophets:
Isaiah 4:2: 'In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.'

Isaiah 11:1: 'Then a Shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit.'

Isaiah 60:21: 'Then all your people will be righteous; they will possess the Land forever, the Branch of My planting, the work of My Hands, that I may be glorified.'

Jeremiah 23:5: 'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch. And He will reign as King and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the Land.'

Jeremiah 33:15: 'In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.'

Zechariah 3:8: 'Now listen, Joshua the High Priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you, indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My Servant the Branch.'

Zech. 6:12: 'Then say to him, 'Thus says the Lord of Hosts, 'Behold, a man whose Name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the Temple of the Lord.'
These are the major cites where the Coming One, Yeshua the Messiah, was entitled 'Branch.' There is much to this and it all began when God put an end to the rebellion of Israel in the Wilderness, specifically concerning who installed Aaron as High Priest. For the rebel Korah said it was because Aaron was Moses' brother, that Moses made Aaron High Priest. And God instituted a dead branch (also known in English as a staff or rod), to be His witness as to whom He had chosen to be High Priest. It was when this dead branch came to life, sprouted and had almonds on it (Numbers 17:5ff), that God revealed to Israel whom He had chosen. It was when Yeshua, a dead 'branch' came back to life, glorified,, that all Israel could know that God had made Yeshua both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).

It was out of the turbulence of rebellion that God established who was to to His anointed one, Aaron. And now the concept of a branch would become a symbol for the Messiah, used by many prophets. So, when Matthew (2:23) and others call Yeshua a 'Nazarene', they are not referring to the vow, but to the place of His having been recognized as having grown up in, for they are also very well aware of the prophecies that say the Messiah will be a 'Branch,' which is the meaning of the name of Nazareth.

It gets very interesting when we read John 19:19 which is: 'Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, 'Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.' It can equally be translated like this: 'Jesus My Branch, the King of the Jews.'

As far as the pictures with short beard and long hair (for the vow of the Nazarite would entail not cutting hair for the duration of the vow), Yeshua, not being a Nazarite, would have had a very long beard and fairly trimmed hair, hidden under the 'turban...wound' around the head and 'hanging gracefully behind' (Edersheim, Alfred: Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994, p. 198). This would have been worn by all men of His time and would have protected their heads and the back of their neck from the scorching heat of the sun, much like the cowboy hat of today.

Giving Jesus long hair is actually anti-scriptural, for the Apostle Paul assumes this when he states: 'Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him?' (1st Corinthians 11:14).

I only say this because so many young Christians (and older ones too!), have long hair. Among the Jews, long hair was a symbol of rebellion. And if we make Jesus out to have long hair, aside from symbolizing that He was in rebellion, could not they rightfully insist that 'if Jesus has it, why can't I?!'

Email Avram — avramyeh@gmail.com

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