From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Galilee was the northern section of Palestine. It was a mountainous region that extended from the Lake of Galilee north to the Lebanon Ranges and west to the coastal plain. The Old Testament barely mentions it by name, since it was not in those days a distinct political territory. When the Old Testament refers to places in Galilee, it usually mentions them according to their location in the tribal areas of the region – Dan, Naphtali, Issachar, Zebulun and Asher ( Joshua 20:7;  Isaiah 9:1; cf.  Matthew 4:12-15).

In New Testament times Galilee was a clearly defined region and a province of the Roman Empire. It fell within the sub-kingdom of Herod Antipas ( Mark 6:14-29;  Luke 3:1;  Luke 23:6-12) and his successor Herod Agrippa I ( Acts 12:20), but was under the overall rule of Rome. (For details see Herod .)

The population of Galilee was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, and this was one reason why the strict Jews of Judea despised the Galilean Jews ( John 7:41;  John 7:52). Added to this, Galilee was cut off from Judea by the territory of the Samaritans, a people of mixed blood and mixed religion who hated, and were hated by, the Jews ( Luke 9:51-56;  John 4:3-4;  John 4:9).

Jesus grew up in Galilee (see Nazareth ) and spent most of the three and a half years of his public ministry there ( Matthew 2:22-23;  Matthew 3:13;  Matthew 4:12-16;  Matthew 4:23;  Matthew 15:29;  Matthew 17:22;  Matthew 19:1;  Matthew 21:11;  Matthew 26:32;  Matthew 26:69;  Matthew 27:55;  Matthew 28:7;  Matthew 28:16). Towns of Galilee that feature in the story of Jesus are Caesarea Philippi in the far north ( Matthew 16:13), Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, Magdala and Tiberias around the Lake of Galilee ( Matthew 4:13;  Matthew 11:21-23;  Matthew 27:56;  Mark 6:45;  John 6:17;  John 6:23), and Nazareth, Cana and Nain in the hill country south of the lake ( Luke 2:39;  Luke 4:16;  Luke 7:11;  John 2:1-11;  John 4:46;  John 21:2). (For further details see separate entries under the names of these towns. For details of the physical features of Galilee see Palestine .)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

Galilee is seldom mentioned in the NT outside the Gospels. The only references are in the early chapters of Acts ( Acts 1:11;  Acts 5:37;  Acts 9:31;  Acts 10:37;  Acts 13:31). Most of the apostles belonged to this northern province ( Acts 1:11;  Acts 13:31). Judas, the Leader of an agitation in the days of the enrolment of Quirinius, is described as ‘of Galilee’ ( Acts 5:37). After Saul’s conversion, peace descended upon the Christians in Galilee, as well as in Judaea and Samaria ( Acts 9:31). Walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, their numbers greatly increased.

1. The name .-The name ‘Galilee’ is derived from the Heb. נָּלִיל ( Gâlîl ), through the Gr. Γαλιλαία and the Lat. Galilœa . The Hebrew word, denoting ‘ring’ or ‘circle,’ was used geographically to describe a ‘circuit’ of towns and villages. As applied to this particular district in north-western Palestine, the form used is either הַנָּלִיל, ‘ the district’ ( Joshua 20:7;  Joshua 21:32,  1 Kings 9:11,  2 Kings 15:29,  1 Chronicles 6:76), or נְּלִיל הַנּוֹיִם, ‘district of the nations’ ( Isaiah 9:1). Given originally to the highlands on the extreme northern border, this name gradually extended itself southwards over the hill-country till it reached and eventually included the Plain of Esdraelon (G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) 4, pp. 379 and 415). For the most part, however, Esdraelon seems to have been a frontier or arena of battle, rather than an actual part of Galilee.

2. The boundaries .-The natural boundaries of Galilee never agreed with its political frontiers. The naturallimits are Esdraelon, the Mediterranean Sea, the Jordan valley, and the gorge of the river Litany. But the actual borders have shifted from time to time. At the period of widest extension, they may be set down as the Kasimiyeh or Litany gorge on the N., the southern edge of Esdraelon on the S., Phœnicia (which always belonged to Gentiles) on the W., and the Upper Jordan (with its two lakes) on the E. These boundaries, excluding Carmel and the area of the lakes, enclosed a province about 50 miles long by 25 to 35 miles broad-an area of about 1600 square miles. Within these limits lay ‘a region of mountain, hill, and plain, the most diversified and attractive in Palestine’ (Masterman, Studies in Galilee , p. 4).

3. The divisions .-Josephus ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. iii. 1) gives the divisions, in his time, as two, called the Upper Galilee and the Lower. The Mishna ( Shebuth ix. 2) states that the province contained ‘the upper, the lower, and the valley.’ The latter are certainly the natural divisions. The mountains separate very clearly into a higher northern and a lower southern group, and the ‘valley’ is the valley of the Upper Jordan.

( a ) Upper Galilee is less easily characterized physically than Lower. ‘It appears to the casual observer a confused mass of tumbled mountains, to which not even the map can give an orderly view’ (Masterman, p. 11). It is in reality ‘a series of plateaus, with a double water-parting, and surrounded by hills from 2000 to 4000 feet’ (G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) 4, p. 416). The central point is Jebel Jermak (3934 ft.), the highest mountain in western Palestine. The scantier water supply of Upper Galilee is compensated for by the copiousness of the dew-fall throughout the later summer months.

( b ) Lower Galilee is easier to describe. It consists of parallel ranges of hills, all below 2000 ft., running from W. to E., with broad fertile valleys between. The whole region is of great natural fertility, owing to abundance of water, rich volcanic soil, the gentleness of the slopes, and the openness of the plains. The great roads of the province cross this lower hill-country. The dividing-line between Upper and Lower Galilee is the range of mountains running right across the country along the northern edge of the Plain of Rameh.

( c ) The Valley consists of the Upper Jordan and its two lakes, Huleh and Gennesaret. The river, taking its rise from springs and streams in the neighbourhood of Banias and Tel-el-Kadi, flows south in a steadily deepening channel, through Huleh, till it empties itself into the Sea of Gennesaret, at a depth of 689 ft. below sea-level. It has fallen to this depth in about 19 miles. Six miles north of the lake, the river is crossed by the ‘Bridge of the daughters of Jacob,’ on the famous Via Maris of the Middle Ages, the principal thoroughfare between Damascus and the Mediterranean ports. The Lake of Galilee could never be sufficiently praised by the Jewish Rabbis. They said that Jahweh had created seven seas, and of these had chosen the Sea of Gennesaret as His special delight. It had rich alluvial plains on the north and south, a belt of populous and flourishing cities round its border, abundance of fish in its depths, and a climate that attracted both workers and pleasure-seekers to its shores. At the beginning of the Christian era, it presented a reproduction in miniature of the rich life and varied activities of the province as a whole.

4. The physical characteristics .-These are principally two: ( a ) abundance of water, and ( b ) fertility of soil. As to ( a ), the words of the ancient promise, ‘for the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths springing forth in valleys and hills’ ( Deuteronomy 8:7), are literally true of Galilee, particularly in its southern half. Large quantities of water are collected during the rainy season among the higher slopes and plateaus, and are thence dispersed by the rivers and streams over the lower-lying tracts, where they become stored in springs and wells. There are the two lakes already mentioned-Huleh, 3½ miles long by 3 miles wide (the Samechonitis of Josephus, but probably not the Waters of Merom of  Joshua 11:5;  Joshua 11:7 [cf. Masterman, Studies in Galilee , p. 26f., and Encyclopaedia Biblica iii. 3038]); the Lake of Galilee (Gennesaret), 13 miles long by 8 miles broad at its widest point. Round its shores are the ruins of at least nine ancient cities or towns. These are Chorazin, Capernaum, Magdala, Tiberias, Taricheae, Hippos, Gamala, Gergesa, and Bethsaida. The principal rivers of the province are the Jordan, the Litany, the Kishon, and the Belus. In addition to these lakes and rivers, there are many greater streams and innumerable springs and wells. These waters, together with the copious dews of the summer, give Galilee the advantage over Samaria and set it in marked contrast to Judaea .

As to ( b ), all authorities unite in celebrating the natural wealth of Galilee, The other half of the promise made to the Hebrews was also true of this highly favoured province. It was ‘a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of oil olives and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it’ ( Deuteronomy 8:8-9). Josephus bears witness that the soil was universally rich and fruitful, and that it invited even the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation (Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. iii. 2). Even to-day, when such large tracts lie uncultivated, no part of Palestine is more productive. The chief products were oil, wine, wheat, and fish. ‘In Asher, oil flows like a river,’ said the Rabbis, who also held that it was ‘easier to raise a legion of olive trees in Galilee than to raise one child in Judaea .’ Gischala was the chief place of manufacture. There were also large stores at Jotapata during the Roman War. Considerable quantities were sent to Tyre and to Egypt. Made from the olive trees, the oil was used principally for external application, for illumination, and in connexion with religious ritual. Wine was made in many quarters of the province, the best qualities coming from Sigona; while wheat and other grains were plentifully raised all over Lower Galilee, especially round about Sepphoris and in the fields of the Plain of Gennesaret. The fish , for which the province was always noted in ancient times, was caught in the inland lakes, particularly in the Lake of Galilee. It formed a large part of the food of the lake-side dwellers, and a considerable trade was carried on by the fish-catchers and fish-curers of the large towns on the shore. The best fishing-grounds were, and still are, at el-Bataiha in the north, and in the bay of Tabigha, at the N.W. corner. Taricheae, in the south, was another centre of the industry. In addition to the above-mentioned commodities, Galilee produced flax from which fine linen fabrics were woven, pottery, and a rich dye made from the indigo plant. The prosperity of the province was enhanced by its proximity to the Phœnician ports, and by the network of highways which crossed it in all directions.

5. The inhabitants .-To-day Galilee possesses a remarkably mixed population, and its inhabitants are physically finer than those of the southern provinces (cf. Masterman, pp. 17-20). In apostolic times, the same was true. Along the western and northern borders were the Syrophœnicians ( Mark 7:26), or Tyrians (as Josephus calls them), while from the east nomadic Bedouins were continually pressing in upon the lower-lying tracts. But besides these Semitic elements, Greeks and Graecized Syrians were distributed over parts of the land (Masterman, p. 120), and Romans made their influence felt throughout a large area of the province. Only in the more secluded towns among the hills would Jewish life be preserved in its characteristic purity. In spite, however, of the mingling of nationalities, the Galilaeans were thoroughly and patriotically Jewish during the 1st cent. of the Christian era. Wherever a true Jew settled abroad, he kept himself distinct from his neighbours, clinging tenaciously to his religion and to his racial customs. And the same thing happened with the Jew at home, when Gentile immigrants settled within his borders. His contempt for foreigners and foreign ways helped him to keep his own character and traditions intact. The Galilaeans were industrious workers-the bulk of them being cultivators of the soil or tenders of the fruit-trees. They were brave soldiers too, as may be learned from the chronicles of Josephus.

‘The Galilaeans are inured to war from their infancy, and have been always very numerous; nor has their country ever been destitute of men of courage’ (Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. iii. 2).

There does not seem to be any sufficient ground for the dislike and contempt in which the Galilaeans were held by their religiously stricter brethren of Judaea . Possibly they were less exact in their observance of tradition. But they were devoted to the Law, and their country was well supplied with synagogues, schools, and teachers. If they were less orthodox, from the Pharisaic standpoint, the Messianic hope burned brightly in their souls, and they crowded to the ministry of Jesus. They were certainly more tolerant and open-minded than the Judaea ns, and it was from them that Jesus chose most of the men who were to give His teaching to the world.

The population of Galilee in apostolic times was considerably greater than it is to-day. At the present time, it is estimated to be somewhere about 250,000 (including children), spread over an area of 1341 square miles and inhabiting some 312 towns and villages. This gives 186 to the square mile. Josephus’ figures mean that the population in his day amounted to something like three millions. He speaks of 204 cities and villages ( Vita , 45), the smallest of which contained above 15,000 inhabitants ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. iii. 2). This estimate, in spite of the arguments of Merrill ( Galilee in the Time of Christ , pp. 62-67), can hardly be correct. Good reasons have been given for believing that 400,000 is a much more likely figure, which means a population of 440 to the square mile. A village of 1,500 inhabitants is reckoned to be a very large one today, and the largest towns (with the exception of Safed) contain fewer than 15,000 people. See Masterman, pp. 131-134.

6. History and government .-At the partition of west Palestine among the twelve tribes, Galilee fell to the lot of Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali, who did not drive out the original inhabitants. The population, therefore, continued to be a mixed one, and the borders of the province were constantly being pressed upon by foreigners. In 734 b.c., Tiglath-Pileser III. carried away most of the inhabitants, and after this depopulation very few Jews re-settled in the district till the extension of the Jewish State under John Hyrcanus (135-104 b.c.). At this time, or a little later, Galilee became thoroughly judaized. The settlers were placed under the Law, and quickly developed a warm patriotism, which made them ever afterwards zealous and persistent champions of their national rights and traditions. Later on, the province was the principal scene of our Lord’s life and ministry. Later still, it succeeded Judaea as ‘the sanctuary of the race and the home of their theological schools’ (G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) 4, p. 425).

From 4 b.c. to a.d. 39, Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, by appointment of the Roman Emperor. Antipas appears to have been a capable ruler on the whole. Like his father, he was fond of building and embellishing cities. He re-built and fortified Sepphoris, his first capital, and a little later erected a new capital city on the west shore of the lake, calling it Tiberias, after the Emperor whose favour he enjoyed. Having secured the banishment of Antipas in a.d. 39, Herod Agrippa I. received the tetrarchy of Galilee, in addition to the territories of Philip and of Lysanias which he had previously obtained. From Claudius (in a.d. 41) he also obtained Judaea and Samaria, thus establishing dominion over all the land formerly ruled by Herod the Great. After Agrippa’s death, in a.d. 44, Claudius reverted to the method of government by procurator-a change which greatly displeased the Jews as a whole and especially stirred the animosity of the zealots. Under the administration of the new procurators, the people’s patience became exhausted, and in the time of Gessius Florus (a.d. 64-66) the revolt began which ended in the destruction of the Jewish State. In the spring of a.d. 67 Vespasian assembled his army at Ptolemais and began the reduction of Galilee. This was accomplished in the course of the first campaign, despite the courage and persistence of the inhabitants. But it was not till after the lapse of another three years that Jerusalem fell (a.d. 70) and the Jewish State was dissolved.

Though the general administration of Galilaean civil affairs lay (till a.d. 44) with the tetrarchs, the details of daily life were regulated by the Jews’ own religious laws ( Dict. of Christ and the Gospels . i. 633). The Sanhedrin at Jerusalem exercised the chief authority, but there were also local ‘councils’ ( Matthew 5:22;  Matthew 10:17) which had limited jurisdiction. But, throughout the whole period, over all and influencing all, was the firm rule of Rome.

Literature.-articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ii. 98-102 (S. Merrill), Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 632-634 (G. W. Thatcher), and Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche 3 (Guthe); G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) 4, 1897, chs. xx.-xxi.; S. Merrill, Galilee in the Time of Christ , Boston, 1881, London, 1885; V. Guérin, Description … de la Palestine , pt. iii.: ‘Galilée,’ Paris, 1880; F. Buhl, GAP [Note: AP Geographie des alten Palästina (Buhl).], Freiburg and Leipzig, 1896, §§ 18-19, 68, 113-123; E. Schürer, History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] , 1885-91 (index); E. W. G. Masterman, Studies in Galilee , Chicago, 1909; A. Neubauer, La Géog. du Talmud , Paris, 1868, §§ 188-240; SWP [Note: WP Memoirs of Survey of Western Palestine.]i. [1861].

A. W. Cooke.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Galilee from Galil . "A circle" or "circuit" around Kedesh Naphtali, in which lay the 20 towns given by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre, in payment for his having conveyed timber from Lebanon to Jerusalem ( Joshua 20:7;  1 Kings 9:11). The northern part of Naphtali (which lay N. of Zebulun) was inhabited by a mixed race of Jews and Gentiles of the bordering Phoenician race ( Judges 1:30;  1 Kings 9:11). Tiglath Pileser carried away captive its Israelite population to Assyria; then Esarhaddon colonized it with pagan ( 2 Kings 15:29;  2 Kings 17:24;  Ezra 4:2;  Ezra 4:10). Hence called ( Isaiah 9:1) "Galilee of the nations," or "Gentiles" ( Matthew 4:13;  Matthew 4:15-16). During and after the captivity the Gentile element became the preponderating population, and spread widely; and the province included in our Lord's days all the ancient Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali.

The most northerly of the three provinces of Palestine, namely, Galilee, Samaria, Judaea ( John 4:3-4;  Luke 17:11;  Acts 9:31). Galilee's Gentile character caused the southern Jews of purer blood to despise it ( John 1:46;  John 7:52); but its very darkness was the Lord's reason for vouchsafing to it more of the light of His presence and ministry than to self-satisfied and privileged Judaea. There He first publicly preached, in Nazareth synagogue. From it came His apostles ( Acts 1:11;  Acts 2:7); foretold in  Deuteronomy 33:18-19;  Deuteronomy 33:23. Compare on Pentecost  Acts 2:7;  Psalms 68:27-28. Jerusalem, the theocratic capital, might readily have known Messiah; to compensate less favored Galilee He ministered mostly there. Galilee's debasement made its people feel their need of the Savior, a feeling unknown to the self right. cons Jews ( Matthew 9:13).

"The Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of His people Israel," appropriately ministered on the border land between Israel and the Gentiles, still on Israel's territory, to which He was primarily sent ( Matthew 15:24). Places and persons despised of men are honored of God. The region the first to be darkened by the Assyrian invasion was cheered by the prophet's assurance that it should be the first enlightened by Immanuel ( 1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Its population being the densest of any part of Palestine, and its freedom from priestly and pharisaic prejudice, were additional grounds for its receiving the larger share of His ministry. It was bounded on the W. by the region of Ptolemais (Acre), namely, the plain of Akka to the foot of Carmel. The Jordan, the sea of Galilee, lake Huleh, and the spring at Dan, was the eastern border. The northern boundary reached from Dan westward to Phoenicia ( Luke 8:26).

The southern border ran along the base of Carmel and the Samaritan hills to mount Gilboa, then along the valley of Jezreel by Scythopolis (Bethshean) to Jordan. Probably the cleansing of the ten lepers took place near Jenin, the border town of Galilee toward Samaria, near the S. of the sea of Galilee. Jebel Jermuk is the highest mountain, 4,000 ft. above the sea. There were two divisions:

I. Lower Galilee was the whole region from the plain of Akka on the W. to the lake of Galilee on the E., including the rich plain of Esdraelon, the heritage of Issachar, who submitted to servitude, to "tribute," for the sake of the rich plenty that accompanied it ( Genesis 49:14-15;  Deuteronomy 33:18). "Rejoice Zebulun in thy going out (thy mercantile enterprises by sea and fishing in the lake of Galilee), and Issachar in thy tents (in thy inland prosperity, agriculture and home comforts) they shall suck of the abundance of the seas (the riches of the sea in general, and the purple dye extracted from the murex here) and of treasures hid in the sand" (the sand of these coasts being especially valuable for manufacturing glass, a precious thing anciently:  Job 28:17).

"They shall call the people unto the mountain," etc.: Zebulun and Issachar shall offer their wealth at the Lord's appointed mount, and invite Gentile nations to join them ( Psalms 22:27-28, etc.). The conversion of the Gentiles, brought in to Israel and Israel's Savior, is herein prophetically typified (compare  Isaiah 60:5-6;  Isaiah 60:16;  Isaiah 66:11-12). Asher "dips his feet in oil," i.e. abounds in olive groves. "Fat bread" and "royal dainties" are his, grain, wine, milk, butter, from his uplands and valleys ( Genesis 49:20;  Deuteronomy 33:24-25). "Thy shoes iron and brass," i.e. thy hills shall yield these metals ( Deuteronomy 8:9). "As thy days (so shall) thy strength (be)," i.e., as thy several days come (throughout life) strength will be given thee," Compare  1 Kings 8:59 margin.

II. Upper Galilee extended from Bersabe on the S. to the village of Baca, bordering on Tyre, and from Meloth on the W. to Thella, near Jordan (Josephus, B. J., 3:3, sec. 1); in fact, the whole mountain range between the upper Jordan and Phoenicia. Its southern border extended from the N.W. of the sea of Galilee to the plain of Akka. This upper Galilee is chiefly meant by "Galilee of the Gentiles." The ravine of the Leonres separates the mountain range of upper Galilee from Lebanon, of which it is a southern prolongation. Safed is the chief town. The scenery is bolder and richer than that of southern Palestine. On the table land of upper Galilee lie the ruins of Kedesh Naphtali ( Joshua 20:7).

Bochart, altering the vowel points, translated  Genesis 49:21, "Naphtali is a spreading terebinth, which puts forth goodly branches"; for the country of Kedesh Naphtali is a natural park of oaks and terebinths. As Nazareth was the scene of our Lord's childhood, so Capernaum in Galilee was for long the home of His manhood ( Matthew 4:13;  Matthew 9:1). (See Capernaum .) The three former, or the Synoptic Gospels chiefly present our Lord's ministry in Galilee; the Gospel of John His ministry in Judea. His parables in John and in the three Synoptists correspond to the features of Judaea and Galilee respectively. The vineyard, fig tree, shepherd, and desert where the man fell among thieves, were appropriate in Judaea; the grainfields ( Mark 4:28), the merchants and fisheries ( Matthew 13:45;  Matthew 13:47), and the flowers ( Matthew 6:28), suited Galilee.

The Galilean accent and dialect were unique, owing to Gentile admixture ( Matthew 26:73). After Herod the Great's death Herod Antipas governed Galilee until six years after Christ's crucifixion. Herod Agrippa, with the title of "king," succeeded. On his death ( Acts 12:23) Galilee was joined to the Roman province of Syria. After the fall of Jerusalem Galilee became famed for its rabbis and schools of Jewish learning; and the Sanhedrim or great council was removed to Sepphoris, and then to Tiberias. Rabbi Judah Haqodesh here compiled the Mishna, to which the Gemara was subsequently added. The remains of splendid synagogues in Galilee still attest the prosperity of the Jews from the second to the seventh century.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

was one of the most extensive provinces into which the Holy Land was divided. It exceeded Judea in extent, but probably varied in its limits at different times. This province is divided by the rabbins into, 1. The Upper; 2. The Nether; and 3. The Valley. Josephus divides it into only Upper and Lower; and he says that the limits of Galilee were, on the south, Samaria and Scythopolis, unto the flood of Jordan. Galilee contained four tribes, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, and Asher; a part, also, of Dan, and part of Persia, that is, beyond the river. Upper Galilee abounded in mountains. Lower Galilee, which contained the tribes of Zebulun and Asher, was sometimes called the Great Field, "the champaign,"

 Deuteronomy 11:30 . The Valley was adjacent to the sea of Tiberias. Josephus describes Galilee as very populous, and containing two hundred and four cities and towns. It was also very rich, and paid two hundred talents in tribute. The natives were brave and good soldiers; but they were seditious, and prone to insolence and rebellion. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the inhabitants of Galilee and Peraea are scarcely mentioned, whether they were Jews returned from Babylon, or a mixture of different nations. The language of these regions differed considerably from that of Judea; as did various customs, in which each followed its own mode. Our Lord so frequently visited Galilee, that he was called a Galilean,  Matthew 26:69 . The population of Galilee being very great, he had many opportunities of doing good in this country; and, being there out of the power of the priests at Jerusalem, he seems to have preferred it as his abode. Nazareth and Capernaum were in this division. From such a mixture of people, many provincialisms might be expected. Hence, we find Peter detected by his language, probably by his phraseology, as well as his pronunciation,  Mark 14:70 . Upper Galilee had Mount Lebanon and the countries of Tyre and Sidon on the north; the Mediterranean Sea on the west; Abilene, Ituraea, and the country of the Decapolis, on the east; and Lower Galilee on the south. Its principal city was Caesarea Philippi. This part of Galilee, being less inhabited by Jews, was thence called Galilee of the Nations, or of the Gentiles. Lower Galilee had the upper division of the same country to the north; the Mediterranean on the west; the sea of Galilee, or lake of Gennesareth, on the east; and Samaria on the south. Its principal cities were Tiberias, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Nain, Caesarea of Palestine, and Ptolemais. This district was of all others most honoured with the presence of our Saviour. Here he was conceived; here he was brought back by his mother and reputed father, after their return from Egypt; here he lived with them till he was thirty years of age; and, although after his entrance on his public ministry he frequently visited the other provinces, it was here that he chiefly resided. Here, also, he made his first appearance after his resurrection to his Apostles, who were themselves natives of the same country, and were thence called men of Galilee.

GALILEE, Sea of. This inland sea, or more properly lake, which derives its several names, the lake of Tiberias, the sea of Galilee, and the lake of Gennesareth, from the territory which forms its western and south-western border, is computed to be between seventeen and eighteen miles in length, and from five to six in breadth. The mountains on the east come close to its shore, and the country on that side has not a very agreeable aspect: on the west, it has the plain of Tiberias, the high ground of the plain of Hutin, or Hottein, the plain of Gennesareth, and the foot of those hills by which you ascend to the high mountain of Saphet. To the north and south it has a plain country, or valley. There is a current throughout the whole breadth of the lake, even to the shore; and the passage of the Jordan through it is discernible by the smoothness of the surface in that part. Various travellers have given different accounts of its general aspect. According to Captain Mangles, the land about it has no striking features, and the scenery is altogether devoid of character. "It appeared," he says, "to particular disadvantage to us, after those beautiful lakes we had seen in Switzerland; but it becomes a very interesting object when you consider the frequent allusions to it in the Gospel narrative." Dr. Clarke, on the contrary, speaks of the uncommon grandeur of this memorable scenery. "The lake of Gennesareth," he says, "is surrounded by objects well calculated to heighten the solemn impressions made by such recollections, and affords one of the most striking prospects in the Holy Land. Speaking of it comparatively, it may be described as longer and finer than any of our Cumberland and Westmoreland lakes, although perhaps inferior to Loch Lomond. It does not possess the vastness of the lake of Geneva, although it much resembles it in certain points of view. In picturesque beauty, it comes nearest to the lake of Locarno, in Italy, although it is destitute of any thing similar to the islands by which that majestic piece of water is adorned. It is inferior in magnitude, and in the height of its surrounding mountains, to the Lake Asphaltites." Mr. Buckingham may perhaps be considered as having given the most accurate account, and one which reconciles, in some degree, the differing statements above cited, when, speaking of the lake as seen from Tel Hoom, he says, that its appearance is grand, but that the barren aspect of the mountains on each side, and the total absence of wood, give a cast of dulness to the picture: this is increased to melancholy by the dead calm of its waters, and the silence which reigns throughout its whole extent, where not a boat or vessel of any kind is to be found. The situation of the lake, lying, as it were, in a deep basin between the hills which enclose it on all sides, excepting only the narrow entrance and outlets of the Jordan at either end, protects its waters from long-continued tempests: its surface is in general as smooth as that of the Dead Sea. But the same local features render it occasionally subject to whirlwinds, squalls, and sudden gusts from the mountains, of short duration; especially when the strong current formed by the Jordan is opposed by a wind of this description from the south-east, sweeping from the mountains with the force of a hurricane, it may easily be conceived that a boisterous sea must be instantly raised, which the small vessels of the country would be unable to resist. A storm of this description is plainly denoted by the language of the evangelist, in recounting one of our Lord's miracles: "There came down a storm of wind on the lake, and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water; and they ceased, and there was a calm,"

 Luke 8:23-24 . There were fleets of some force on this lake during the wars of the Jews with the Romans, and very bloody battles were fought between them. Josephus gives a particular account of a naval engagement between the Romans under Vespasian, and the Jews who had revolted during the administration of Agrippa. Titus and Trajan were both present, and Vespasian himself was on board the Roman fleet. The rebel force consisted of an immense multitude, who, as fugitives after the capture of Tarichaea by Titus, had sought refuge on the water. The vessels in which the Romans defeated them were built for the occasion, and yet were larger than the Jewish ships. The victory was followed by so terrible a slaughter of the Jews, that nothing was to be seen, either on the lake or its shores, but the blood and mangled corpses of the slain; and the air was infected by the number of dead bodies. Six thousand five hundred persons are stated to have perished in this naval engagement, and in the battle of Tarichaea, beside twelve hundred who were afterward massacred in cold blood, by order of Vespasian, in the amphitheatre at Tiberias, and a vast number who were given to Agrippa as slaves.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]


1. Position . Galilee was the province of Palestine north of Samaria. It was bounded southward by the Carmel range and the southern border of the plain of Esdraelon, whence it stretched eastward by Bethshean (Scythopolis, Beisan) to the Jordan. Eastward it was limited by the Jordan and the western bank of its expansions (the Sea of Galilee and Waters of Merom). Northward and to the north-west it was bounded by Syria and Phœnicia; it reached the sea only in the region round the bay of Acca, and immediately north of it. Its maximum extent therefore was somewhere about 60 miles north to south, and 30 east to west.

2. Name . The name Galilee is of Hebrew origin, and signifies a ‘ring’ or ‘circuit.’ The name is a contraction of a fuller expression, preserved by   Isaiah 9:1 , namely, ‘Galilee of the [foreign] nations.’ This was originally the name of the district at the northern boundary of Israel, which was a frontier surrounded by foreigners on three sides. Thence it spread southward, till already by Isaiah’s time it included the region of the sea, i.e. the Sea of Galilee. Its further extension southward, to include the plain of Esdraelon, took place before the Maccabæan period. The attributive ‘of the nations’ was probably dropped about this time partly for brevity, partly because it was brought into the Jewish State by its conquest by John Hyrcanus, about the end of the 2nd cent. b.c.

3. History . In the tribal partition of the country the territory of Galilee was divided among the septs of Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, and part of Issachar. In the OT history the tribal designations are generally used when subdivisions of the country are denoted; this is no doubt the reason why the name ‘Galilee,’ which is not a tribal name, occurs so rarely in the Hebrew Scriptures though the passage in Isaiah already quoted, as well as the references to Kedesh and other cities ‘in Galilee’ (  Joshua 20:7;   Joshua 21:32 ,   1 Kings 9:11 ,   2 Kings 15:29 ,   1 Chronicles 6:76 ), show that the name was familiar and employed upon occasion. But though some of the most important of the historical events of the early Hebrew history took place within the borders of Galilee, it cannot be said to have had a history of its own till later times.

After the return of the Jews from the Exile, the population was concentrated for the greater part in Judæa, and the northern parts of Palestine were left to the descendants of the settlers established by Assyria. It was not till its conquest, probably by Joho Hyrcanus, that it was once more included in Jewish territory and occupied by Jewish settlers. Under the pressure of Egyptian and Roman invaders the national patriotism developed rapidly, and it became as intensely a Jewish State as Jerusalem itself, notwithstanding the contempt with which the haughty inhabitants of Judæa regarded the northern provincials. Under the Roman domination Galilee was governed as a tetrarchate, held by members of the Herod family. Herod the Great was ruler of Galilee in b.c. 47, and was succeeded by his son Antipas, as tetrarch, in b.c. 4. After the fall of Jerusalem, Galilee became the centre of Rabhinic life. The only ancient remains of Jewish synagogues are to be seen among the ruins of Galilæan cities. Maimonides was buried at Tiberias. But it is as the principal theatre of Christ’s life and work that Galilee commands its greatest interest. Almost the whole of His life, from His settlement as an infant in Nazareth, was spent within its borders. The great majority of the twelve Apostles were also natives of this province.

4. Physical Characteristics . Owing to moisture derived from the Lehanon mountains, Galilee is the best-watered district of Palestine, and abounds in streams and springs, though the actual rainfall is little greater than that of Judæa. The result of this enhanced water supply is seen in the fertility of the soil, which is far greater than anywhere in Southern Palestine. It was famous for oil, wheat, barley, and fruit, as well as cattle. The Sea of Galilee fisheries were also important. The formation of the country is limestone, broken by frequent dykes and outflows of trap and other volcanic rocks. Hot springs at Tiberias and elsewhere, and not infrequent earthquakes, indicate a continuance of volcanic and analogous energies.

5. Population . Galilee in the time of Christ was inhabited by a mixed population. There was the native Jewish element, grafted no doubt on a substratum of the Assyrian settlers and other immigrants, whose intrusion dated from the Israelite Exile with probably yet a lower stratum, stretching back to the days of the Canaanites. Besides these there was the cultivated European class the inhabitants of the Greek cities that surrounded the Sea of Tiberias, and the military representatives of the dominant power of Rome. We have seen that in Judæa the Galilæans were looked down upon. ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ (  John 1:46 ) was one proverb. ‘Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet’ (  John 7:52 ) was another, in the face of the fact that Galilee was the home of Deborah, Barak, Ibzan, Tola, Elon, with the prophets Jonah, Elisha, and possibly Hosea. The Galilæans no doubt had provincialisms, such as the confusion of the gutturals in speech, which grated on the sensitive ears of the Judæans, and was one of the indications that betrayed Peter when he endeavoured to deny his discipleship (  Matthew 26:73 ).

R. A. S. Macalister.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

This was a much smaller district in the O.T. than in the N.T., although its area is not very defined. It seems formerly to have included a portion of Naphtali, and perhaps a portion of Asher. 'Kedesh in Galilee,' one of the cities of refuge was in Naphtali.  Joshua 20:7;  Joshua 21:32;  1 Chronicles 6:76 . Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in Galilee. These are not named, but they would naturally be near to Tyre. When Hiram went to view them he called them the ' land of Cabul,' as if he included them all under the one name of 'Cabul,' worthless. Now there was and is a village of this name on the frontier of Asher, which would seem to indicate that Asher was in the district of Galilee.   1 Kings 9:11-13 . About B.C. 740 Tiglath-pileser carried away captive all the inhabitants of Naphtali, etc.  2 Kings 15:29 . This was doubtless followed by the district being inhabited by foreigners, who, when the captivity of Israel was completed, would be able to spread themselves southward. Hence the term 'Galilee of the Gentiles ,' or nations, which does not occur until  Isaiah 9:1; the prophecy is quoted in  Matthew 4:15 .

In N.T. times Galilee had become a much larger district, including the portions of Asher, Naphtali, Zebulon, and Issachar. It had over 200 towns and villages, and about three million inhabitants in Josephus' time. It was bounded on the south by Samaria, and embraced the whole of the north part of Palestine. It included the towns of Nain, Nazareth, Cana, Tiberias, Magdala, Dalmanutha, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum.

It is probable that the Galilaeans had a different manner of pronunciation, or the language spoken in Galilee was not so refined as that spoken at Jerusalem, which led to Peter being detected by his speech.  Matthew 26:69,73;  Mark 14:70 . But the voice of the same Peter, under the power of God, was mighty on the day of Pentecost, though the hearers said "are not all these which speak Galilaeans?"  Acts 2:7 . They were surprised to hear such men speak in foreign tongues, the more so because no prophet was ever looked for from thence, nor any good thing from Nazareth.  John 1:46;  John 7:52 . Still in that despised district the Lord spent His youth: thus early was He as One separated from the course of the nation of Israel, a Nazarene; and the principal part of His ministry was among the poor of the flock in that locality; fulfilling thus the will of God and the prophetic word, on which God had caused His people to hope.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

In the time of Christ, included all the northern part of Palestine lying west of the Jordan and north of Samaria. Before the exile the name seems to have been applied only to a small tract bordering on the northern limits,  1 Kings 9:11 . Galilee, in the time of Christ, was divided into Upper and Lower, the former lying north of the territory of the tribe of Zebulun, and abounding in mountains; the latter being more level and fertile, and very populous; the whole comprehending the four tribes of Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, and Asher. Lower Galilee is aid to have contained four hundred and four towns and villages, of which Josephus mentions Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Gabara, as the principal; though Capernaum and Nazareth are the most frequently mentioned in the New Testament,  Mark 1:9   Luke 2:39   John 7:52 , etc. "Galilee of the Gentiles" is supposed to be Upper Galilee, either because it bordered on Tyre and Zidon, or because Phenicians, Syrians, Arabs, and other heathen were numerous among it inhabitants. The Galileans were accounted brave and industrious; though other Jews affected to consider them as not only stupid and unpolished, but also seditious, and therefore proper objects of contempt,  Luke 13:1   23:6   John 1:47   7:52 . They appear to have used a peculiar dialect, by which they were easily distinguished from the Jews of Jerusalem,  Mark 14:70 . Many of the apostles and first converts to Christianity were men of Galilee,  Acts 1:11   2:7 , as well as Christ himself; and the name Galilean was often given as an insult, both to him and his followers. The apostate emperor Julian constantly used it, and in his dying agony and rage cried out, "O Galilean, thou hast conquered!" Our Savior resided here from infancy till he was thirty years of age, and during much of his public ministry; and the cities of his public ministry; and the cities of Nazareth, Nain, Cana, Capernaum, with the whole region of the sea of Galilee, are sacredly endeared to all his people by the words he there spoke, and the wonders he wrought. For the Sea of Galilee, see Sea 3.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Galilee ( Găl'I-Lee ), Circle, Circuit. A name in the Old Testament for a small district in the northern mountains of Naphtali, around Kedesh-naphtali, and including 20 towns given by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre,  Joshua 20:7;  Joshua 21:32;  1 Kings 9:11;  2 Kings 15:29, and called "Galilee of the nations" in  Isaiah 9:1. Devastated during the wars of the Captivity, it was repeopled by strangers. In the time of the Maccabees they probably outnumbered the Jewish population, and gave their new name to a much wider district. In the time of our Lord, Palestine was divided into three provinces, of which Galilee was the most northern. It included the whole region from the plain of Jezreel to the Litany (Leontes) river, being about 50 miles long by 20 to 25 miles wide. The northern part was known as Upper and the southern part as Lower Galilee. These included the territories given to Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, and Issachar. The country was famed for its fertility, rich pastures, and fine forests. The portion west of the lake was the most beautiful. In the Roman period the population was dense, Josephus estimating it at 2,000,000 or 3,000,000, though that is probably an exaggeration. It had a mixed population of heathens, foreigners, and Jews. The latter, having a strong, if not dominant, influence, were less strict and less acquainted with the Law than their southern Judæan neighbors, by whom they were little esteemed. The noted mountains of Galilee were Carmel, Gilboa, and Tabor; the towns were Nazareth, Cana, Tiberias, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Jesus spent the greater portion of his life and ministry in Galilee. Many of his most remarkable miracles, teachings, and labors were within this province of Galilee. His disciples were chiefly from this region.  Acts 1:11. After the fall of Jerusalem, Galilee became the residence of celebrated rabbis and the centre of Jewish schools of learning.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Matthew 4:15 Acts 9:31

It was the scene of some of the most memorable events of Jewish history. Galilee also was the home of our Lord during at least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord's public ministry in this province. "The entire province is encircled with a halo of holy associations connected with the life, works, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth." "It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two beautiful parables, no less than ninteen were spoken in Galilee. And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three great miracles, twenty-five were wrought in this province. His first miracle was wrought at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee's sea. In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on The Mount, and the discourses on 'The Bread of Life,' on 'Purity,' on 'Forgiveness,' and on 'Humility.' In Galilee he called his first disciples; and there occurred the sublime scene of the Transfiguration" (Porter's Through Samaria).

When the Sanhedrin were about to proceed with some plan for the condemnation of our Lord ( John 7:45-52 ), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Compare  Deuteronomy 1:16,17;  17:8 .) They replied, "Art thou also of Galilee?.... Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." This saying of theirs was "not historically true, for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee, Jonah of Gath-hepher, and the greatest of all the prophets, Elijah of Thisbe, and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy" (Alford, Com.).

The Galilean accent differed from that of Jerusalem in being broader and more guttural ( Mark 14:70 ).

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

 Joshua 20:7 Joshua 12:23 Joshua 20:7 Joshua 21:32 1 Kings 9:11 1 Kings 9:12-13 2 Kings 15:29 Isaiah 9:1

The term “Galilee” apparently was used prior to Israel's conquest, being mentioned in Egyptian records. It was used in Israel but not as a political designation. The tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan occupied the territory which covered approximately the forty-five-mile stretch between the Litani River in Lebanon and the Valley of Jezreel in Israel north to south and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River west to east.

In the time of Jesus' Galilee, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. Jesus devoted most of His earthly ministry to Galilee, being known as the Galilean ( Matthew 26:69 ). After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Galilee became the major center of Judaism, the Mishnah and Talmud being collected and written there.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

A province in Palestine. Nazareth was a city of Galilee. And as the Lord Jesus was brought up in this city, he was called, by way of reproach, the Galilean. Isaiah, speaking of the gospel, ages before Christ came, pointed to this memorable spot, as comprehensive of all blessings in the advent of Jesus; and Matthew made application of the prophet's words to Christ. "The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." ( Isaiah 9:1-2;  Matthew 4:15-16)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

gal´i - ( הגּליל , ha - gālı̄l , הגּלילה , hagelı̄lāh , literally, "the circuit" or "district"; ἡ Γαλιλαία , hē Galilaı́a ):

1. Galilee of the Nations

Kedesh, the city of refuge, is described as lying in Galilee, in Mt. Naphtali ( Joshua 20:7; compare  Joshua 21:32 ). The name seems originally to have referred to the territory of Naphtali. Joshua's victorious campaign in the north (Josh 11), and, subsequently, the triumph of the northern tribes under Deborah and Barak (Jdg 4 f) gave Israel supremacy; yet the tribe of Naphtali was not able to drive out all the former inhabitants of the land ( Judges 1:33 ). In the time of Solomon the name applied to a much wider region, including the territory of Asher. In this land lay the cities given by Solomon to Hiram ( 1 Kings 9:11 ). Cabul here named must be identical with that of  Joshua 19:27 . The Asherites also failed to possess certain cities in their allotted portion, so that the heathen continued to dwell among them. To this state of things, probably, is due the name given in  Isaiah 9:1 to this region, "Galilee of the nations," i.e. a district occupied by a mixed population of Jews and heathen. It may also be referred to in   Joshua 12:23 , where possibly we should read "king of the nations of Galilee" ( legālı̄l ), instead of "Gilgal" ( begilgāl ). Yet it was within this territory that, according to  2 Samuel 20:18 (Septuagint) lay the two cities noted for their preservation of ancient Israelite religious customs in their purity - A bel-bethmaacah and Dan.

2. Ancient Boundaries

There is nothing to guide us as to the northern boundary of Galilee in the earliest times. On the East it was bounded by the upper Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, and on the South by the plain of el - Baṭṭauf . That all within these limits belonged to Galilee we may be sure. Possibly, however, it included Zebulun, which seems to be reckoned to it in   Isaiah 9:1 . In this territory also there were unconquered Canaanite cities (Jdg 1, 30).

3. Before the Exile

At the instigation of Asa, king of Judah, Benhadad, son of Tabrimmon of Damascus, moved against Israel, and the cities which he smote all lay within the circle of Galilee ( 1 Kings 15:20 ). Galilee must have been the arena of conflict between Jehoahaz and Hazael, king of Syria. The cities which the latter captured were recovered from his son Benhadad by Joash, who defeated him three times ( 2 Kings 10:32;  2 Kings 13:22 ). The affliction of Israel nevertheless continued "very bitter," and God saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Joash, the great warrior monarch of the Northern Kingdom, under whom Galilee passed completely into the hands of Israel ( 2 Kings 14:25 ). But the days of Israel's supremacy in Northern Palestine were nearly over. The beginning of the end came with the invasion of Tiglath-pileser III, who took the chief cities in Galilee, and sent their inhabitants captive to Assyria ( 2 Kings 14:29 ). Probably, as in the case of the Southern Kingdom, the poorest of the land were left as husbandmen. At any rate there still remained Israelites in the district ( 2 Chronicles 30:10 f); but the measures taken by the conqueror must have made for the rapid increase of the heathen element.

4. After the Exile

In post-exilie times Galilee is the name given to the most northerly of the three divisions of Western Palestine. The boundaries are indicated by Josephus ( Bj , III, iii, 1). It was divided into Lower and Upper Galilee, and was encompassed by Phoenicia and Syria. It marched with Ptolemais and Mt. Carmel on the West. The mountain, formerly Galliean, now belonged to the Syrians. On the South it adjoined Samaria and Scythopolis ( Beisān ) as far as the river Jordan. It was bounded on the East by Hippene, Gadara, Gaulonitis and the borders of the kingdom of Agrippa, while the northern frontier was marked by Tyre and the country of the Tyrians. The northern limit of Samaria was Ginea, the modern Jenı̄n , on the south border of Esdraelon. Lower Galilee, therefore, included the great plain, and stretched northward to the plain of er - Rāmeh - R amah of  Joshua 19:36 . Josephus mentions Bersabe, the modern Abu - Shebā , and the Talmud, Kephar Ḥănanyāh , the modern Kefr ‛Anan , as the northern border; the former being about a mile North of the latter. The plain reaches to the foot of the mountain chain, which, running East and West, forms a natural line of division. Upper Galilee may have included the land as far as the gorge of the Liṭāny , which, again, would have formed a natural boundary to the N. Josephus, however, speaks of Kedesh as belonging to the Syrians ( BJ , II, xviii, 1), situated "between the land of the Tyrians and Galilee" ( Ant. , Xiii , v, 6). This gives a point on the northern frontier in his time; but the rest is left indefinite. Guthe, Sunday and others, followed by Cheyne ( EB , under the word), on quite inadequate grounds conclude that certain localities on the East of the Sea of Galilee were reckoned as Galilean.

5. Character of the Galileans

In the mixed population after the exile the purely Jewish element must have been relatively small. In 165 bc Simon Maccabeus was able to rescue them from their threatening neighbors by carrying the whole community away to Judea ( 1 Maccabees 5:14 ff). Josephus tells of the conquest by Aristobulus I of Ituraea ( Ant. , Xiii , xi, 3). He compelled many of them to adopt Jewish religious customs, and to obey the Jewish law. There can be little doubt that Galilee and its people were treated in the same way. While Jewish in their religion, and in their patriotism too, as subsequent history showed, the population of Galilee was composed of strangely mingled elements - A ramaean, Iturean, Phoenician and Greek In the circumstances they could not be expected to prove such sticklers for high orthodoxy as the Judeans. Their mixed origin explains the differences in speech which distinguished them from their brethren in the South, who regarded Galilee and the Galileans with a certain proud contempt ( John 1:46;  John 7:52 ). But a fine type of manhood was developed among the peasant farmers of the two Galilees which, according to Josephus ( BJ , III, iii, 2), were "always able to make a strong resistance on all occasions of war; for the Galileans are inured to war from their infancy ... nor hath the country ever been destitute of men of courage." Josephus, himself a Galilean, knew his countrymen well, and on them he mainly relied in the war with Rome. In Galilee also the Messianic hope was cherished with the deepest intensity. When the Messiah appeared, with His own Galilean upbringing, it was from the north-countrymen that He received the warmest welcome, and among them His appeal elicited the most gratifying response.

6. Later History

In 47 bc, Herod the Great, then a youth of 25, was made military commander of Galilee, and won great applause by the fashion in which he suppressed a band of robbers who had long vexed the country ( Ant. , Xiv , ix, 2). When Herod came to the throne, 37 bc, a period of peace and prosperity for Galilee began, which lasted till the banishment of his son Antipas in 40 ad. The tetrarchy of Galilee was given to the latter at his father's death, 4 bc. His reign, therefore, covered the whole life of Jesus, with the exception of His infancy. After the banishment of Antipas, Galilee was added to the dominions of Agrippa I, who ruled it till his death in 44 ad. Then followed a period of Roman administration, after which it was given to Agrippa II, who sided with the Romans in the subsequent wars, and held his position till 100 ad. The patriotic people, however, by no means submitted to his guidance. In their heroic struggle for independence, the command of the two Galilees, with Gamala, was entrusted to Josephus, who has left a vivid narrative, well illustrating the splendid courage of his freedom-loving countrymen. But against such an adversary as Rome even their wild bravery could not prevail; and the country soon lay at the feet of the victorious Vespasian, 67 ad. There is no certain knowledge of the part played by Galilee in the rebellion under Hadrian, 132-35 ad.

At the beginning of the Roman period Sepphoris ( Ṣafūriyeh ), about 3 miles North of Nazareth, took the leading place. Herod Antipas, however, built a new city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, which, in honor of the reigning emperor, he called Tiberias. Here he reared his "golden house," and made the city the capital of his tetrarchy. See Tiberias . After the fall of Jerusalem, Galilee, which had formerly been held in contempt, became the home of Jewish learning, and its chief seat was found in Tiberias where the Mishna was committed to writing, and the Jerusalem Talmud was composed. Thus a city into which at first no pious Jew would enter, in a province which had long been despised by the leaders of the nation, became the main center of their national and religious life.

7. Cities of Galilee

Among the more notable cities in Galilee were Kedesh Naphtali, the city of refuge, the ruins of which lie on the heights West of el - Ḥuleh  ; Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, North of the Sea of Galilee; Nazareth, the city of the Savior's youth and young manhood; Jotapata, the scene of Josephus' heroic defense against the Romans, which stood at Tell Jefāt , North of the plain of Asochis ( Bj , III, vii, viii); Cana of Galilee; and Nain, on the northern slope of the mountain now called Little Hermon.

8. General Description

In physical features Galilee is the most richly diversified and picturesque district in Western Palestine; while in beauty and fertility it is strongly contrasted with the barren uplands of Judah. Cut off from Mt. Lebanon in the North by the tremendous gorge of the Liṭāny , it forms a broad and high plateau, sinking gradually southward until it approaches Ṣafed , when again it rises, culminating in Jebel Jermuk , the highest summit on the West of the Jordan. From Ṣafed there is a rapid descent by stony slope and rocky precipice to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The mountains of which Jebel Jermuk is the Northeast outrunner stretch westward across the country, and drop upon the plain of er - Rameh to the South. Irregular hills and valleys, with breadths of shady woodlands, lie between this plain and that of Asochis ( el - Baṭṭauf ). The latter is split from the East by the range of Jebel Tor‛ān . South of Asochis rise lower hills, in a cup-like hollow among which lies the town of Nazareth. South of the town they sink steeply into the plain of Esdraelon. The isolated form of Tabor stands out on the East, while Carmel bounds the view on the West. The high plateau in the North terminates abruptly at the lip of the upper Jordan valley. As the Jordan runs close to the base of the eastern hills, practically all this valley, with its fine rolling downs, is included in Galilee. The plain of Gennesaret runs along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. From the uplands to the West, stretching from Ḳurūn Ḥattı̄n (the traditional Mount of Beatitudes) to the neighborhood of Tabor, the land lets itself down in a series of broad and fertile terraces, falling at last almost precipitously on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The descent toward the Mediterranean is much more gradual; and the soil gathered in the longer valleys is deep and rich.

The district may be described as comparatively well watered. The Jordan with its mighty springs is, of course, too low for purposes of irrigation. But there are many perennial streams fed by fountains among the hills. The springs at Jenin are the main sources of the river Kishon, but for the greater part of its course through the plain the bed of that river is far below the surface of the adjoining land. The dews that descend from Lebanon and Hermon are also a perpetual source of moisture and refreshment.

9. Products

Galilee was famous in ancient times for its rich and fruitful soil, "full of the plantations of trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites the most slothful to pains in its cultivation by its fruitfulness; accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle" ( Bj , III, iii, 2). See also Gennesaret , Land Of . The grapes grown in Naphtali were in high repute, as were the pomegranates of Shikmona - the Sykaminos of Josephus - which stood on the shore near Mt. Carmel. The silver sheen of the olive meets the eye in almost every valley; and the olive oil produced in Galilee has always been esteemed of the highest excellence. Its wheat fields also yielded an abundant supply, the wheat of Chorazin being proverbial. The great plain of Esdraelon must also have furnished rich provision. It cannot be doubted that Galilee was largely drawn upon for the gifts in kind which Solomon bestowed upon the king of Tyre ( 2 Chronicles 2:10 ). At a much later day the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon depended upon the produce of Galilee ( Acts 12:20 ).

Galilee was in easy touch with the outside world by means of the roads that traversed her valleys, crossed her ridges and ran out eastward, westward and southward. Thus she was connected with the harbors on the Phoenician seaboard, with Egypt on the South, with Damascus on the Northeast, and with the markets of the East by the great caravan routes (see "Roads" under Palestine ).

10. Contact with the Outside World

In the days of Christ the coming and going of the merchantmen, the passing of armies and the movements of the representatives of the Empire, must have made these highways a scene of perpetual activity, touching the dwellers in Galilee with the widening influences of the great world's life.

11. Population

The peasant farmers of Galilee, we have seen, were a bold and enterprising race. Encouraged by the fruitfulness of their country, they were industrious cultivators of the soil. Josephus estimates the population at 3,000,000. This may be an exaggeration; but here we have all the conditions necessary for the support of a numerous and prosperous people. This helps us to understand the crowds that gathered round and followed Jesus in this district, where the greater part of His public life was spent. The cities, towns and villages in Galilee are frequently referred to in the Gospels. That the Jewish population in the centuries immediately after Christ was numerous and wealthy is sufficiently proved by the remains from those times, especially the ruins of synagogues, e.g. those at Tell Ḥūm , Kerāzeh , Irbid , el - Jish , Kefr Bir‛im , Meirōn , etc. Near the last named is shown the tomb of the great Jewish teacher Hillel.

Galilee was not without her own heroic memories. The great battlefields of Megiddo, Gilboa, and the waters of Merom lay within her borders; and among the famous men of the past she could claim Barak, Ibzan, Elon and Tola of the judges; of the prophets, Jonah and Elisha at least; possibly also Hosea who, according to a Jewish tradition, died in Babylon, but was brought to Galilee and buried in Ṣafed (Neubauer, Geog. der Talmud , 227). When the chief priests and Pharisees said, "Search, and see that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet," it argued strange and inexcusable ignorance on their part (  John 7:52 ). Perhaps, however, in this place we should read ὁ Προφήτης , ho prophḗtēs , "the prophet," i.e. the Messiah. It is significant that 11 out of the 12 apostles were Galileans.

For detailed description of the country, see Issachar; Asher; Zebulun and Naphtali; see also Galilee , Sea Of .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Gal´ilee, the name given to one of the three principal divisions of Palestine, the other two being Judea and Samaria. This name of the region was very ancient. It occurs in the Hebrew forms of Galil and Galilah,;;;; and in we have 'Galilee of the nations;'; .

Galilee was the northernmost of the three divisions, and was divided into Upper and Lower. The former district had Mount Lebanon and the countries of Tyre and Sidon on the north; the Mediterranean Sea on the west; Abilene, Ituræa, and the country of Decapolis on the east; and Lower Galilee on the south. This was the portion of Galilee which was distinctively called 'Galilee of the nations,' or of the 'Gentiles,' from its having a more mixed population, i.e. less purely Jewish than the others. Caesarea Philippi was its principal city. Lower Galilee had Upper Galilee on the north, the Mediterranean on the west, the Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesareth on the east, and Samaria on the south. Its principal towns were Tiberias, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Nain, Caesarea of Palestine, and Ptolemais. This is the district which was of all others the most honored with the presence of our Savior. Here he lived entirely until he was thirty years of age; and although, after the commencement of his ministry, he frequently visited the other provinces, it was here that he chiefly resided. Here also he made his first appearance to the Apostles after his resurrection; for they were all of them natives of this region, and had returned hither after the sad events at Jerusalem .

Hence the disciples of Christ were called 'Galileans.' They were easily recognized as such; for the Galileans spoke a dialect of the vernacular Syriac different from that of Judea, and which was of course accounted rude and impure, as all provincial dialects are considered to be, in comparison with that of the metropolis. It was this which occasioned the detection of St. Peter as one of Christ's disciples . The Galilean dialect was of a broad and rustic tone, which affected the pronunciation not only of letters but of words.

The Galileans are mentioned by Josephus as a turbulent and rebellious people, ready on all occasions to rise against the Roman authority. This character of them explains what is said in , with regard to 'the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.' Josephus, indeed, does not mention any Galileans slain in the Temple by Pilate; but the character which he gives that people sufficiently corroborates the statement. The tumults to which he alludes were, as we know, chiefly raised at the great festivals, when sacrifices were slain in great abundance; and on all such occasions the Galileans were much more active than the men of Judea and Jerusalem, as is proved by the history of Archelaus, which case, indeed, furnishes an answer to those who deny that the Galileans attended the feasts with the rest of the Jews.

This seditious character of the Galileans also explains why Pilate, when sitting in judgment upon Jesus, caught at the word Galilee when used by the chief priests, and asked if he were a Galilean . To be known to belong to that country was of itself sufficient to prejudice Pilate against him, and to give some countenance to the charges, unsupported by impartial evidence, which were preferred against him, and which; Pilate himself had, just before, virtually declared to be false.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Galilee'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [15]

The northern division of Palestine, divided into Upper, hilly, Lower, level, about 60 m. long and 30 broad.