Nazareth (Arabic الناصرة an-Nāzirah; Hebrew נָצְרַת) is a town of about 60,000 people in northern Israel, about 88 miles north of Jerusalem. It is the capital of the northern region of the country and the largest Arab city in Israel. Jesus grew up in Nazareth with his mother Mary, making the city one of several Christian pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament nor any other ancient Jewish sources. However, in 1961, an early Hebrew inscription was found in Caesarea that mentions Nazareth.
In Jesus' time, Nazareth would have had a population of about 500. and indeed, in the New Testament, Nazareth is depicted as an obscure backwater. In the Gospel of John, people who hear of Jesus of Nazareth ask themselves, "What good could come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46)
Nevertheless, the New Testament reports that Nazareth was the home of Mary and Joseph (Luke 1:26), the site of the Annunciation (announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior) and the town in which Jesus grew up (Matthew 2:23, 13:54; Luke 2:4, 2:51, 4:16). Nazareth is mentioned 17 times in the New Testament. Jesus eventually left the village for a wider ministry although he was always known to some as a “prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matt 21:11).
Christians inhabited Nazareth by the 4th century, if not earlier, but pilgrims were not much interested in the site initially. It was not until the 6th century, when legends about Mary's life in Nazareth began to circulate, that Nazareth became a Christian pilgrim destination.
Modern Nazareth is situated among the southern ridges of the Lebanon Mountains, on the steep slope of a hill, about 14 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 west from Mount Tabor. The modern city lies lower down upon the hill than the ancient one. Nazareth has a population of 60,000. The majority of Nazarenes are Israeli Arabs, about 35-40% of which are Christians and the rest are Muslims.