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Nazareth

No one knows when people first settled in the secluded basin in the rocky Galilean hills above the fertile lands of the Great Plain. The hill country around Nazareth hardly welcomed a town at all. Its only resource was a spring of good water which probably drew people to the spot first and kept them there.

By hard work they cleared the ground for small plots where crops and vines could grow. By the time of Jesus, Nazareth, with its few hundred people, was a town of small farms and vineyards - nothing more.

young boys in Nazareth, c. 1927
Young boys in Nazareth, c. 1927

The people of Nazareth were all religious Jews devoted to their traditions and their synagogue. Outsiders said they were simple and uncultured, somewhat out of step with the world beyond their hill town. Nathaniel, one of Jesus' future apostles, summed up the opinion most people had of the place: "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"

But the Nazareans preferred their life apart.

Rather than live on choicer land next to gentile neighbors, as Jews did in so many other towns in Galilee, or in prosperous Greek cities like Tiberias on the Lake of Galilee, they chose the remote hills where they could live as Jews without interference from outsiders.

Joseph, the carpenter

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