Alice C. Linsley
Since Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, it is not surprising that his closest followers were from Galilee. It was to Galilee that the Master returned and met with His disciples after His resurrection. At the Last Supper He informed his disciples: "After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matt. 26:32)
An angel at the empty tomb told Mary Magdalene and the other women that they were to notify the Disciples: “He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.” (Matt. 28:7) As the women were on their way to inform the disciples, Jesus appeared to them and said: “Rejoice!… Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matt. 28:9-10)
Later, “the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them” and “worshiped Him” (Matt. 28:16).
Nazareth sat in a basin. It was described as a flower or a shell protected all around by hills. It was not isolated however. A caravan route connected Nazareth and Jerusalem. To the south of Nazareth there was a road that went all the way to Egypt. This would have been the route that Joseph traveled with Mary and Jesus on their return from Egypt. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt." (Mat. 2:13).
Nazareth was also near the cities of Tiberias, Genneseret (Kinnaret) and Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. This the was the region of Jesus' Galilean activities and where He taught in the local synagogue. It was also the home town of the apostles James, Andrew and John, and Matthew.
A first-century AD dwelling in Capernaum was remembered by early Christians as Peter's home. According to the Matthew 8:14-16, Jesus stayed here. An octagonal Byzantine church was built atop the ruins of the dwelling.
Capernaum was under the control of the the Canaanite fortified town of Kinna-ret (Gennesaret) as early as 3100 B.C. Kinna-ret is mentioned by ancient Ugarit scribes and appears to refer to the Kinna people who were called kinah-hu in the Nuzi tablets. This is the origin of the name Canaanite.
Kinah is related to the name Kenan. Genesis 5 lists Kenan as Cain's grandson by his un-named daughter. The name Kenan is a variant of Kain and Ghayin. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (2007) writes that ghayin lies behind the word kinah-hu at Nuzi. In the Canaano-Akkadian, "hu" is a pronominal suffix.
Nazareth is related to the Hebrew word meaning a branch, netzer, with the root NZR. It is likely Na-za-ret and may be related to the Nilotic Luo words reth, rwot or rwoth, and the Ge'z rwt, meaning chief or king. Another Nilotic people, the Shilluk, use the word reth to mean king or chief. Na means "of" or "belonging to." In Aramaic, za means radiance. Ret refers to the king. If these connections are correct, Nazareth would mean "the radiance of the King" which suggests that is settlement, like Bethlehem, was once a royal shrine. This would explain why the eighteenth division of ruler-priests resided there.
Galilee under Egyptian Rule
Pharaoh Tuthmose III captured several cities in Galilee in 1468 BC, including Kadesh, Hazor and Beth She'an. At one time Egypt ruled from Nubia to Syria. Galilee would have been at the center of this vast kingdom.
Dr. Tom McCollough of Centre College (KY) has excavated in Galilee and found many amulets that date to Jesus' time. His team excavated at Sepphoris, a sprawling site on top of a large hill in Galilee. Here there was an amphitheater, a synagogue, a rich collection of mosaics and several nearby villages and roads. Sepphoris is located only 5 miles from Nazareth, northwest across the rolling hills.
The influence of Egypt is evident in the mosaic floor of the Nile House in Sepphoris (shown below).
|Mosaic depicts scenes from the Nile|
Likewise, the flora and fauna of Canaan appear on reliefs in two of the smaller rooms in Tuthmose III's temple at Karnak near Luxor. The Babylonian Talmud (Jasher 7:50) indicates that Abraham's mother was the daughter of a Horite priest associated with Karnak (Karnevo).
Karnak was dedicated to Amun-Ra, the Hidden Creator, whose son was called Horus. Horus was born in a manger to Hathor. The Horites and their metal-working brethren were devotees of Horus and Hathor.
Chalcolithic metal works at Timnah were found at the Wadi Nehushtan in the foothills along the western fringe of the southern Arabah Valley. The smelting works, slag and flints at this site were found to be identical to those discovered near Beersheba where Abraham spent much of his time. The metal workers of Timnah and the metal workers of Beersheba were kin. The patroness of their mining and smelting operations was the Hathor, the mother of Horus. In his book Timna, Beno Rothenberg (Hebrew University) concluded that the peoples living in the area were "partners not only in the work but in the worship of Hathor." (Timna, p. 183)
Egypt is mentioned more than 300 places in the biblical narratives. Some of Jesus' ancestors (Horim/Horites) were ruler-priests in Egypt. The Horite Hebrew expected the Son of God to be born to a woman of their ruler-priest lines. This expectation can be traced to the first promise and prophecy of Scripture - Genesis 3:15 - given to Abraham's Nilotic ancestors.
The Horites observed the death of Horus in a 5-day festival. The first 3 days were marked by solemnity (as Plutarch noted in Isis and Osiris, 69). The last 2 days were a time of feasting and rejoicing. Horus is said to have died on the 17th of Athyr. His death was commemorated by the planting of grain. On the third day, the 19th of Athyr, there was a celebration of Horus’ rising to life. It is no coincidence that Jesus alludes to the Horite myth when describing his passion and resurrection. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24) He identifies himself as the "Seed" of Genesis 3:15.
Egypt was a safe place for Abraham's divine Seed, as it was for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in times of famine. Joseph, like his famous namesake, did not arrive in Egypt under the best of circumstances, but his obedience to the angelic warning preserved the life of Mary's Son.
The Apostles believed that the return of Jesus from Egypt fulfills the prophesy of Hosea 11:1: "I called my son out of Egypt." Jews insist that this refers to Israel as a people, and certainly that is the context of the Hosea passage. Matthew's Gospel says: So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my son out of Egypt." (Matthew 2:15)
Related reading: Egypt in the Book of Genesis; Egypt in the Christmas Narrative; Exploring Hosea 11:1 - "Out of Egypt"; Who Were the Canaanites?; Why Jesus Visited Tyre