"And he came and dwelt in a city called
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Matthew says that it was foretold that the savior would be from Nazareth and that he would be called a Nazarene. This is disputed by skeptics: there are no verses in the Old Testament having anything to do with Nazareth or Nazarenes, and no prophet ever said that a savior would be called a nazarene. Skeptics are quick to point to this omission as evidence that Matthew was just imagining that such a prophecy existed. Joseph Wheless, writing in "Is It God's Word" (page 246), is one of the better-known of these skeptics:
We will show below, however, that there is weak evidence to
support Matthew's contention. We begin by showing why Matthew thought that
the prophets foretold that Jesus would be called a nazarene, branch, or
Yariv Eyal  says that Nazarene
was the Hellenized form of the word meaning branch, or offshoot, referring
to a branch of Judaism:
Jesus was widely known to the Israelites as Yeshu haNotsri in their language, which means Jesus the Notsri. He is called this to this day, and his followers are called Notsrim after him and his movement. The word nazarene is the Hellenized  form of notsri. Most of Yeshu's followers, either uneducated Jews or non-Jews, didn't know why he was called Notsri or what it meant. The word notsri, which is an adjective, comes from netser, which means sprout or branch or offshoot. (See also, Romans 11:20-23)  Since Jesus was a member, or perhaps the former member, of an offshoot group which sprouted off of mainstream Judaism, he was called Jesus the Notsri. The Hebrew word for Christian to this day is Notsri.
Nazarene and Nazareth are not mentioned in the Old Testament, which makes sense, since there was no city called Nazareth in the days of the prophets. There is, however, a reference to a class of people called nazarites (Hebrew: nazer, crown, referring a crown , the hair of a nazir), who made themselves separate from ordinary human beings and devoted themselves to the spiritual life . Samson, whose long hair set him apart from others, was the earliest known Nazarite. The reference in question appears in Judges:
Lest there be any doubt that the verses in Judges refer to the legendary Samson, we hear the voice of a man with a special vulnerability:
Thus, we see that these nazarites had nothing to
do with the town of Nazareth or the name Nazarene.
Did Matthew Believe Judges Referred
Did Matthew believe that the Judges verse was a prophecy about the savior nazarene? If so, this is how his mind might have worked: Jesus was God, therefore his life is foretold in the Old Testament. Jesus was from Nazareth (or so people believed), therefore his Nazareth residency must somewhere be mentioned in the Old Testament. Matthew scours the old scriptures for anything that looks like Nazareth, and finds the nazarite passage in Judges. That must be it, he thinks.
According to this
hypothetical scenario, a poorly-inspired Matthew believed that the prophets
foresaw that the son of god would be a called Nazarene, which he thought
meant "a resident of Nazareth". We know, of course, that the Judges verses
speak of an angel who is telling a women she will bear a savior son, which
turns out to be Samson the Nazarite, not Jesus the Nazarene.
If Matthew wasn't referring to the nazarite verses
in Judges, perhaps he was thinking of the following verses in Isaiah, which
specifically refer to a person as a branch:
The Old Testament Nazarene
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. (Isaiah 11:1-11)
 Eerdman's Bible Dictionary, (1987), page 751.
 Yariv Eyal is a US born Israeli citizen. Beside receiving a secular education, he was educated in orthodox Jewish yeshivas in the US and Israel, and is fluent in Hebrew and English and has taught Hebrew to new immigrants and Christian missionaries in Israel.
 Greek word for Greece was "Hellas". The Age of Hellenism was inaugurated during the reign of Alexander the Great; a period of time during which the Greek language was spread. A hellenized Hebrew word is a Hebrew word with a Greek-influenced new spelling.
 "Do not be arrogant," he warned, "but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches (the Jewish people), he will not spare you either...And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again." (Romans 11:20-21,23)
 The Nazarite in ancient Israel has some of the
flavor of the monk in Christendom. (Asimov's Guide to the Bible, vol.
I, pp. 248-249).