Nazareth in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
naz'-a-reth (Nazaret, Nazareth, and other forms):
1. Notice Confined to the New Testament:
A town in Galilee, the home of Joseph. and the Virgin Mary,
and for about 30 years the scene of the Saviour's life (Mt
2:23; Mk 1:9; Lk 2:39,51; 4:16, etc.). He was therefore
called Jesus of Nazareth, although His birthplace was
Bethlehem; and those who became His disciples were known as
Nazarenes. This is the name, with slight modification, used
to this day by Moslems for Christians, Nacara--the singular
The town is not named in the Old Testament, although the
presence of a spring and the convenience of the site make it
probable that the place was occupied in old times.
Quaresimus learned that the ancient name was Medina Abiat,
in which we may recognize the Arabic el-Medinat el-baidtah,
"the white town." Built of the white stone supplied by the
limestone rocks around, the description is quite accurate.
There is a reference in Mishna (Menachoth viii.6) to the
"white house of the hill" whence wine for the drink offering
was brought. An elegy for the 9th of Abib speaks of a
"course" of priests settled in Nazareth. This, however, is
based upon an ancient midhrash now lost (Neubauer, Geogr. du
Talmud, 82, 85, 190; Delitzsch, Ein Tag in Capernaum, 142).
But all this leaves us still in a state of uncertainty.
2. Position and Physical Features:
The ancient town is represented by the modern en-Nacirah,
which is built mainly on the western and northwestern slopes
of a hollow among the lower hills of Galilee, just before
they sink into the plain of Esdraelon. It lies about midway
between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean at Haifa.
The road to the plain and the coast goes over the
southwestern lip of the hollow; that to Tiberias and
Damascus over the heights to the Northeast. A rocky gorge
breaks down southward, issuing on the plain between two
craggy hills. That to the West is the traditional Hill of
Precipitation (Lk 4:29). This, however, is too far from the
city as it must have been in the days of Christ. It is
probable that the present town occupies pretty nearly the
ancient site; and the scene of that attempt on Jesus' life
may have been the cliff, many feet in height, not far from
the old synagogue, traces of which are still seen in the
western part of the town. There is a good spring under the
Greek Orthodox church at the foot of the hill on the North.
The water is led in a conduit to the fountain, whither the
women and their children go as in old times, to carry home
in their jars supplies for domestic use. There is also a
tiny spring in the face of the western hill. To the
Northwest rises the height on which stands the sanctuary,
now in ruins, of Neby Sa`in. From this point a most
beautiful and extensive view is obtained, ranging on a clear
day from the Mediterranean on the West to the Mountain of
Bashan on the East; from Upper Galilee and Mt. Hermon on the
North to the uplands of Gilead and Samaria on the South The
whole extent of Esdraelon is seen, that great battlefield,
associated with so many heroic exploits in Israel's history,
from Carmel and Megiddo to Tabor...