The origin of the word Nazareth (Natzrat or Natzeret in Hebrew; al-Nāṣira or al-Naseriyye in Arabic) dates back to the meaning of “to flower”, as San Girolamo observed, but also means “to keep watch”. The geographical location of this city in Lower Galilee confirms its role as an observation point. Nazareth is located along the most southern side of the hilly area that descends from Lebanon, at an elevated position above the opposed plain of Jezreel, the valley mentioned several times in the Bible and also known by its Greek name Esdrelon, that is about 350 metres above sea level.
However, for centuries Nazareth has resided in the hearts of pilgrims and travellers as “the flower of Galilee”, holding the memory of the dialogue between the archangel Gabriel and Mary. By saying “yes” the young woman transformed the unknown village to the location of “here the Word became flesh”, of the Son of God who became man, with the fruit of the Virgin’s breast that became flower, as proclaimed Bernardo di Chiaravalle in his comment about the mystery of Nazareth.
Two locations for Nazareth are cited in ancient texts: the Galilean (northern) location in the Christian gospels and a southern (Judean) location mentioned in several early noncanonical texts.
Modern-day Nazareth is nestled in a natural bowl which reaches from 320 metres above sea level to the crest of the hills about 488 metres. Nazareth is about 25 kilometres from the Sea of Galilee and about 9 kilometres west from Mount Tabor. The major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are situated approximately 146 kilometres and 108 kilometres respectively, away from Nazareth. The Nazareth Range, in which the town lies, is the southernmost of several parallel east-west hill ranges that characterize the elevated tableau of Lower Galilee.