NAZARETH (Gk. Nazareth, Nazara, from an Aramaic word of uncertain form and meaning). A town of ancient Galilee, famed as the place where Jesus passed His childhood. The New Testament records are singularly silent as to the details of the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth. The only passage giving any light is Matt. xiii. 54-58 ( = Mark vi. 1-5. Luke iv. 16 :30), the record of a visit by Jesus after He had begun His public ministry. From the question of Nathanael (John i. 461 it May he inferred that it was a place of no special importanee, but not necessarily that it had a bail reputation. Since the town is not mentioned in the Gld Testament or Jttsephus, we are entirely ignorant of its early history. The Now Testament writ ings and the Talmud only show that Jesus was popularly tel perhaps at first in contempt, 'the Nazarene,' and His followers 'Nazarenes.' (See NAZARENE.) No further mention is found until Eusebins. who says in his Onomasticon that it was fifteen Boman miles eastward from legeon time ancient Megiddo), and not far from Mount Talton Epiphanies, a century later, says that it. had become in his day a more village. The Chris tiahs of the first three CI Ľnturivs appear to have regarded it with no consideration. In later cen turies it began to attract pilgrims. It naturally was reverenced by the Crusaders, who greatly em bellished the place. After its final capture by the in 1291 it declined, though retaining its attraetion for pilgrims. About 1620 a great
Franciscan church and convent of the Annuncia tion was built. This has become one of the most popular pilgrim shrine- in Palestine. The house in Whi,di Mary 1 iV41 is said to have been miracu lously transported to Loreto (q.v.), Italy. Of late year- Nazareth has materially increased in popu lation. at present containing over 11000 souls. of Whom nearly 8000 are Christians. The situa tion is most beautif III. In the upper reaches of a valley leading down to the Plain of Esdrae Ion to the -outh, shut in by hills, with a very fertile soil, it is isolated from the world. It is only necessary to climb the hills, however, to rain ne of the finest views in Palestine. The modern tImn, mainly on the steep slopes of the southwest side of the or basin, is prob ably farther front the summit of the hill than was the ancient town of Jesus' day. Of all the 'holy places' in Palestine few can rival the spring near the I:reek Church of (:abriel. a spot prob ably often visited by ..lary and Consult: siaai aml Palestine (New York, 1883) ; Ge(trg... Adam Smith, Historical Geography of !hr Holy Land (New York. 1891;) ; Baedeker socin. Pah st Inc and Syria (Leipzig, 18981, with a plan of the town and deseription of the antiqui ties; Hitter. En/kande, vol. xvi. (Berlin. 1852) ; Guth in, lTalil,'r (Paris. 18801; Buhl, Geo(raphic Pubis/bass I Freiburg, 1896).