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Galilee in Fausset's Bible Dictionary. (gal' ih lee)
Place name meaning, “circle” or “region.” The northern part of Israel above the
hill country of Ephraim and the hill country of Judah (Joshua 20:7). The
Septuagint or early Greek translation referred to a king of the nations of
Galilee in Joshua 12:23, though the Hebrew reads, “Gilgal.” Many scholars see
the Greek as original (NRSV, REB). This would indicate a leader of a coalition
of city- states whom Joshua defeated. Kedesh in Galilee was a city of refuge
(Joshua 20:7) and a city for the Levites (Joshua 21:32). Solomon paid Hiram of
Tyre twenty cities of Galilee for the building materials Hiram supplied for the
Temple and royal palace (1 Kings 9:11), but the cities did not please Hiram, who
called them Cabul, meaning, “like nothing” (1 Kings 9:12-13). Apparently,
Galilee and Tyre bordered on each other. The cities may have been border
villages whose ownership the two kings disputed. The Assyrians took the north
under Tiglath-pileser in 733 (2 Kings 15:29) and divided it into three
districts—the western coast or “the way of the sea” with capital at Dor, Galilee
with capital at Megiddo, and beyond Jordan or Gilead (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.
Region. The northern part of Palestine, also referred to as Galilee of the
gentiles because of the Assyrian conquest (Is 9:1). The S border was the Valley
of Jezreel, the E border was to Sea of Galilee, the N border was Lebanon, and
the W border was the Plain of Acre. It is the highest region in the country,
with the coolest temperature. It was well watered by the winter rains and had
numerous and abundant springs. The area is divided into two parts by a deep
valley, thus upper Galilee and lower Galilee. Upper Galilee rose to a height of
more than 3000 feet above sea level. Galilee's lush territory and fertile soil
for agriculture provide a basis for rich economy in this region. It also
contained a major road which brought the peoples of the Mediterranean to the
lands of the East.
Galilee is referred to only seven times in the O.T. Josh. 12:23; 20:7; 21:32 (1
Chr. 6:76); 1 Kgs. 9:11; 2 Kgs. 15:29. In the territory was first conquered
under Joshua the tribes that inhabited the territory dwelt among the Canaanite
inhabitants. In 732 Tiglath-Pileser III conquered Galilee, and a region became
an Assyrian Satrapy, known in the Assyrian documents as the Satrapy of Megiddo.
In the Persian period Galilee was outside the Jewish state, and Galilee and
Samaria were both a single district. Under the Seleucids this district was
called an eparchy, and under the Ptolemies Galilee formed a separate hyparchy.
At this time there were many Greeks and Phoenicians there, and some Jewish
settlements. In 104-103 B.C. the Hasmonean Aristobulus conquered Galilee and
added it to his kingdom. It remained a Jewish territory even after Palestine had
been conquered by Pompey in 64 B.C., and later it became part of Herod's
kingdom. After Herod's death in 4 B.C. Galilee and Perea was passed on to his
son Herod Antipas who became Tetrarch, he founded the city of Tiberias and made
it capital of Galilee.
Most of the early ministry of Jesus took place in Galilee. He lived in Nazareth
(Matt 21:11) and performed his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11). When he
ministry in Galilee the crowds received him gladly (Mark 12:37), and it was in
Judea were Jesus was put to death. During the last supper Jesus told his
disciples that after he been raised from the dead, He would go before them to
meet them (Mark 14:28). After his resurrection an angel informed the disciples
that Jesus had preceded them in Galilee were they would see him as he had
promised (Mark 16:7).
During the Jewish war against the Romans Galilee was where the first battles
were fought and the city was fortified by Josephus. After the revolt was put
down Galilee was made part of the Roman province of Judea. The area of thrived
after the period of the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132-135), with numerous
cities and villages.
Luke 1:26; 2:4; 3:1; Mark. 1:9; 1:14, 28; Matt. 4:23; 28:26; John 7:1; Acts
See Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee
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Galilee in Bible Cities
More about Ancient Galilee
Israel in the First Century
1 Kings 9:11 -
([Now] Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir
trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave
Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
John 7:41 -
Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
2 Kings 15:29 -
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and
took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead,
all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
Luke 3:1 -
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being
governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and
Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
Luke 2:4 -
And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is
called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
Acts 1:11 -
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee,
why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you
into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
1 Chronicles 6:76 -
And out of the tribe of Naphtali; Kedesh in Galilee with
her suburbs, and Hammon with her suburbs, and Kirjathaim with her suburbs.
Joshua 21:32 -
And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with
her suburbs, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her
suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.
Isaiah 9:1 -
Nevertheless the dimness [shall] not [be] such as [was] in her vexation, when at
the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and
afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea, beyond
Jordan, in Galilee of
Matthew 4:23 -
And Jesus went about all Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and
healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Joshua 20:7 -
And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in
mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which [is]
Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
Matthew 4:15 -
The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond
Jordan, Galilee of
John 4:45 -
Then when he was come into Galilee,
the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem
at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.
Mark 7:31 -
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee,
through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.
Matthew 2:22 -
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father
Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a
dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
Luke 5:17 -
And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were
Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town
and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them.
Acts 9:31 -
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and
Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the
comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Matthew 4:18 -
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee,
saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into
the sea: for they were fishers.
Mark 6:21 -
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to
his lords, high captains, and chief [estates] of Galilee;
John 21:2 -
There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of
Cana in Galilee,
and the [sons] of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Acts 5:37 -
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in
the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished;
and all, [even] as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Matthew 19:1 -
And it came to pass, [that] when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed
and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
John 2:11 -
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
John 4:46 -
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee,
where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was
sick at Capernaum.
John 7:1 -
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee:
for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
Matthew 4:25 -
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee,
and [from] Decapolis, and [from] Jerusalem, and [from] Judaea, and [from] beyond
Matthew 28:7 -
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and,
behold, he goeth before you into Galilee;
there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Mark 1:9 -
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee,
and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Luke 1:26 -
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee,
Luke 4:14 -
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee:
and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
Map of New Testament Israel (Click to Enlarge)
Israel in the First Century
Maps are essential for any serious Bible study, they help students of the Scriptures understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in the Bible.
New Testament Israel |
Map of Old Testament Israel
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