Nazareth is a small town, situated in Galilee, west of Capernaum, and not far from Cana. It was built partly in a valley and partly on the slope of a hill. Populated at the time of Jesus by mostly Gentiles, the city is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was considered of little significance, with a special contempt seemingly placed upon it. This contempt was expressed by Nathanael just before Jesus called him to be one of his disciples:
"The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.' . . . Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'
"And Nathanael said to him, 'CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF NAZARETH?' " (John 1:43, 45-46, NKJV throughout)
The best explanation of the origin of Nazareth's name is that it comes from the word translated Branch in Isaiah 11:1 - a passage of scripture that offers prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus:
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a BRANCH shall grow out of his roots.
"The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
"His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; . . ." (Isaiah 11:1-4)
Jesus lived in Nazareth until he moved to Capernaum at the beginning of his ministry:
"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.' " (Matthew 2:23)
Sources: Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible; John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible; Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary