The situation of Nazareth


The situation of Nazareth  from John

The situation of Nazareth, according to Borchard, Breidenbach, and Saligniac, ought to be measured and determined from mount Thabor. For so they unanimously: “From Nazareth two leagues eastward is mount Thabor.” Nor is there any cause why, with respect to that region of Galilee in which they place this city, we should dissent from them, seeing there are others of the same opinion. Now the mount Tabor was in the very confines that divided Issachar from Zebulun; Joshua 19:22, “And the coast [i.e. of Issachar] reacheth to Tabor and Shahazimah.” But what coast should this be? north or south? The north coast, saith Josephus:–

“Next to Manasseh is Issachar, having for its bounds of longitude mount Carmel and the river [Jordan], and of latitude mount Tabor.” That is, the latitude of Issachar is from Manasseh to mouth Tabor, as Josephus plainly makes out in that place. Mount Tabor, therefore, lay as it were in the midst, betwixt the coasts of Samaria and Upper Galilee: having on this side Issachar towards Samaria, and on that side Zabulon towards the aforesaid Galilee.

Josephus describes mount Tabor, where these things seem something obscure. We have already seen where Scythopolis lay; and where the great plain, near Scythopolis. But what should that great plain be, that lieth so behind Tabor towards the north, that Tabor should be betwixt it and Scythopolis? Is not Zabulon so called in Josephus? yea, and Issachar too, at least a great part of it, if we consult the same Josephus. So that the great plain of Scythopolis or Manasseh, is distinctly called by him “the great plain of Samaria.”

And the Lower Galilee is described by the Talmudists by this character, “That it produceth sycamines, which the Upper Galilee doth not.” Now the sycamine trees were in the vale, 1 Kings 10:27. And hence seems to arise the distinction between the Upper and the Lower Galilee; the Lower so called because more plain and champaign, the Upper because more hilly and mountainous.

I am deceived if the Upper Galilee be not sometimes by way of emphasis called ‘Galilee’; nor without cause, when as the Lower might be called the great plain. So Cana had the adjunct of ‘Cana of Galilee,’ perhaps that it might distinguish that Cana which bounds both the Galilees; of which more in its proper place. That passage which we meet with in our evangelist, chapter 4:43,44, “He departed from thence [from Samaria] and went into Galilee; for Jesus himself testified that a prophet hath no honour in his country”: it looks this way; that is, he would not go into Nazareth, but into Galilee, viz. the Upper; and so came to Cana.

Nazareth, therefore, was in the Lower Galilee, in the very confines of Issachar and Zabulon, and is commonly received within Zabulon, itself being distant sixteen miles or more from Capernaum; for from Capernaum, mount Tabor is distant ten miles, or thereabouts.