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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Galilee

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(gal' ih lee) Place name meaning, “circle” or “region.” The northern part of Palestine 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.

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These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Galilee'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/g/galilee.html. 1991.

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