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, 1Ki 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, Mr 1:9; Lu 2:39; Joh 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, Lu 13:1; 23:6; Joh 1:47; 7:52. They appear to have used a peculiar dialect, by which they were easily distinguished from the Jews of Jerusalem, Mr 14:70. Many of the apostles and first converts to Christianity were men of Galilee, Ac 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.
circuit. Solomon rewarded Hiram for certain services rendered him by the gift of an upland plain among the mountains of Naphtali. Hiram was dissatisfied with the gift, and called it "the land of Cabul" (q.v.). The Jews called it Galil. It continued long to be occupied by the original inhabitants, and hence came to be called "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Mt 4:15), and also "Upper Galilee," to distinguish it from the extensive addition afterwards made to it toward the south, which was usually called "Lower Galilee." In the time of our Lord, Galilee embraced more than one-third of Western Palestine, extending "from Dan on the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, to the ridges of Carmel and Gilboa on the south, and from the Jordan valley on the east away across the splendid plains of Jezreel and Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west." Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprehended the whole northern section of the country (Ac 9:31), and was the largest of the three.
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 (Joh 7:45-52), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Comp. De 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 (Mr 14:70).
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 (Jos 20:7; 1Ki 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 (Jg 1:30; 1Ki 9:11). Tiglath Pileser carried away captive its Israelite population to Assyria; then Esarhaddon colonized it with pagan (2Ki 15:29; 17:24; Ezr 4:2,10). Hence called (Isa 9:1) "Galilee of the nations," or "Gentiles" (Mt 4:13,15-16). 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 (Joh 4:3-4; Lu 17:11; Ac 9:31). Galilee's Gentile character caused the southern Jews of purer blood to despise it (Joh 1:46; 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 (Ac 1:11; 2:7); foretold in De 33:18-19,23. Compare on Pentecost Ac 2:7; Ps 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 (Mt 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 (Mt 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 (1Co 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 (Lu 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 (Ge 49:14-15; De 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 (Ps 22:27-28, etc.). The conversion of the Gentiles, brought in to Israel and Israel's Savior, is herein prophetically typified (compare Isa 60:5-6,16; 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 (Ge 49:20; De 33:24-25). "Thy shoes iron and brass," i.e. thy hills shall yield these metals (De 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 1Ki 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 (Jos 20:7).
Bochart, altering the vowel points, translated Ge 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 (Mt 4:13; 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 (Mr 4:28), the merchants and fisheries (Mt 13:45,47), and the flowers (Mt 6:28), suited Galilee.
The Galilean accent and dialect were unique, owing to Gentile admixture (Mt 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 (Ac 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.
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. Jos 20:7; 21:32; 1Ch 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. 1Ki 9:11-13. About B.C. 740 Tiglath-pileser carried away captive all the inhabitants of Naphtali, etc. 2Ki 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 Isa 9:1; the prophecy is quoted in Mt 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. Mt 26:69,73; Mr 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?" Ac 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. Joh 1:46; 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.
(circuit). This name, which in the Roman age was applied to a large province, seems to have been originally confined to a little "circuit" of country round Kedesh-Naphtali, in which were situated the twenty towns given by Solomon to Hiram king of Tyre as payment for his work in conveying timber from Lebanon to Jerusalem.
In the time of our Lord all Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
Lu 17:11; Ac 9:31
Joseph. B.J. iii. 3. The latter included the whole northern section of the country, including the ancient territories of Issachar, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali. On the west it was bounded by the territory of Ptolemais, which probably included the whole plain of Akka to the foot of Carmel. The southern border ran along the base of Carmel and of the hills of Samaria to Mount Gilboa, and then descended the valley of Jezreel by Scythopolis to the Jordan. The river Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, and the upper Jordan to the fountain at Dan, formed the eastern border; and the northern ran from Dan westward across the mountain ridge till it touched the territory of the Phoenicians. Galilee was divided into two sections, "Lower" and "Upper." Lower Galilee included the great plain of Esdraelon with its offshoots, which ran down to the Jordan and the Lake of Tiberias, and the whole of the hill country adjoining it on the north to the foot of the mountain range. It was thus one of the richest and most beautiful sections of Pales-tine. Upper Galilee embraced the whole mountain range lying between the upper Jordan and Phoenicia. To this region the name "Galilee of the Gentiles" is given in the Old and New Testaments.
Galilee was the scene of the greater part of our Lord's private life and public acts. It is a remarkable fact that the first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord's ministrations in this province, while the Gospel of John dwells more upon those in Judea. (Galilee in the time of Christ. --From Rev. Selah Merrill's late book (1881) with this title, we glean the following facts: Size. --It is estimated that of the 1000 square miles in Palestine west of the Jordan, nearly one-third, almost 2000 square miles, belongs to Galilee. Population --The population is between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000. Dr. Merrill argues for the general correctness of Josephus' estimates, who says there were 204 cities and villages in Galilee, the smallest of which numbered 15,000 inhabitants. Character of the country. Galilee was a region of great natural fertility. Such is the fertility of the soil that it rejects no plant, for the air is so genial that it suits every variety. The walnut, which delights above other trees in a wintry climate, grows here luxuriantly together with the palm tree, which is flourished by heat. It not only possesses the extraordinary virtue of nourishing fruits of opposite climes, but also maintains a continual supply of them. Here were found all the productions which made Italy rich and beautiful. Forests covered its mountains and hills, while its uplands, gentle slopes and broader valleys were rich in pasture, meadows, cultivated fields, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees of every kind. Character of the Galileans.--They were thoroughly a Jewish people. With few exceptions they were wealthy and in general an influential class. If one should say the Jews were bigoted in religion, he should remember at the same time that in regard to social, commercial and political relations none were more cosmopolitan in either sentiment or practice than they. The Galileans had many manufactures, fisheries, some commerce, but were chiefly an agricultural people. They were eminent for patriotism and courage, as were their ancestors, with great respect for law and order.--ED.)
GALILEE 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," De 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, Mt 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, Mr 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," Lu 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.