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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Galilee

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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.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Galilee'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/g/galilee.html. 1949.

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