Hidden in the basement of an old monastery in the center of Nazareth is perhaps one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the century: The very home where Jesus grew up in. It is not well known to the public but so amazing!
In 1881 nuns from France arrived in Nazareth and built the Sisters of Nazareth convent. They were told the site was the former location of a great church, but they didn’t think anything of it.
Then in 2006 archaeologist Ken Dark came for a routine inspection and discovered a huge basement below the convent (See CNN Documentary below). It included the remains of an ancient Byzantine church, and a first century house. According to a 7th century Pilgrimage account, a large church stood in this area, called “The Church of the Nutrition”, because it was the place where Jesus was nurtured. According to Byzantine sources this church was built on top of the house of Mary and Joseph where Jesus grew up and lived for almost 30 years of His life. The sources said that below this church was a well, a vault and two tombs, one of which belonged to Joseph. When archaeologists went to work under the Sisters of Nazareth convent indeed they discovered a cave-church used for gatherings by early Christians, a well, a vault and two tombs. Was this the lost Church of the Nutrition?
Below the church, archaeologists uncovered a Jewish house from the early first century, the time of Jesus. It was a two-story house with a bedroom, a well and an extra cave room. Inside the rooms they found a spindle whirl for weaving, jewelry, metal rods for make-up and limestone jars which were typical for Jewish families at the time. Underneath the house there was an empty double tomb, which is unusual for Jewish houses, unless the man was a “Just man”. Indeed, the Bible describes Joseph was a just man (Matthew 1:19). Could this really be the house where Jesus grew up and the real tomb of Joseph? Many archaeologists do think it is possible. In the first century, it would have been a well-known location for Mary and Jesus’s brothers. Today, this amazing discovery remains hidden for most tourists but if you are ever in Israel I strongly suggest visiting it.
Hope from Nazareth
In 2019 I was in Nazareth and we slept in an apartment in the center of town. That night, I had a dream and heard a clear voice, saying: “Can you explain about the spiritual significance of Nazareth?” When I woke up I knew it was the voice of Jesus Himself. He is alive today and still speaks to His disciples! In the dream I felt His longing for me to discover what was so special about this place.
Nazareth in the first century was a small town set against a hill in the lower Galilee with only about 80 Jewish families. It was known as a poor place, for local people. It was in that little town that the angel spoke to Mary and promised her a child. God chose that little town for the Son of God, to grow up in. The Bible describes that Joseph was a carpenter, but in Greek the word used is “Tekton”, which means artisan and meant an artisan of stone or wood.
According to Old Testament prophecies, the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), NOT Nazareth. Indeed, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but why then did Jesus grow up in Nazareth? Jesus is often called “Jesus of Nazareth” or Jesus the Nazarene which means someone from Nazareth. In Matthew 2 we read that the prophets of Israel said that the Messiah would be called a “Nazarene”. However, Nazareth was only settled after the deaths of Isaiah and Jeremiah and there is NO prophecy about the Messiah being called a Nazarene in the entire Old Testament. Neither did Nazareth exist at that time. So which prophecy was Matthew referring to?
Most scholars believe Matthew was referring to Isaiah 11:1:
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1 KJV).
The root word for rod is shoot or branch in Hebrew is “Netzer”, the same root word as Nazareth. It means branch; offshoot; sprout. This refers to a shoot or branch that grows on a tree that is chopped down. Nazareth meant the city of the Branch. A sprout of hope.
The stump of Jesse in Isaiah 11:1 refers to the family tree of King David. Isaiah prophecies about the Messiah coming from the lineage of King David and that He would give new hope. During the Roman occupation the lineage of David had been cut down and became a stump. The people of Nazareth were actually refugees from Bethlehem and were royalty, from the line of David. They had moved north to escape the Romans. It is likely they called the town “Nazareth” to refer to the netzer “the branch”, because they believed one day God’s promises for Israel will be fulfilled.
When Jesus grew up in Nazareth, the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 was fulfilled and it was a sign to His people that He was the Messiah, out of the line of David. He was the “Netzer” a branch of hope from which came a new beginning and new life. Literally His name “Yeshua of Nazareth” meant “salvation, the branch of hope”.
In John 1:46 Nathaniel asks “What good can come from Nazareth?” The best thing ever! Yeshua (Jesus) is the Netzer, the branch, the Messiah. And He is our hope for the redemption of Israel and the world for today.
Little Branches of Hope
Today the word for Christians in Hebrew is “NOTSRIM” which means those that come from Nazareth. Therefore the Hebrew meaning of the word “Christians” is actually “little branches of hope”. The word Netser can also mean “to guard or keep, a promise or covenant”. Christians are watchmen and guardians of the promise of hope for this world. You carry His light in you and the hope of salvation for all nations.
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)
For more information:
If you want to visit the home of Jesus in Nazareth contact the Sisters of Nazareth convent: https://www.nazareth360.com/accommodtion/sisters-nazareth-convent