(Γαλιλαία, often in the N.T. and Apocrypha, as well as Josephus), the rendering also in a few passages (Jos 20:7; Jos 21:32; 1Ki 9:11;
1Ch 6:76; Isa 9:1) of the Heb. גָּלַיל, galil' (fem. גּלַילָה, gelilah', 2Ki 15:29), which prop. signifies a circle (e.g., a ring, Es 1:6; Song 5:14), or circuit of country, i.e., one of the little circular plains among the hills of northern Palestine, such as is now seen near edesh. SEE TOPOGRAPHICAL TERMS. As a special locality, it is first mentioned by Joshesa, who describes Kedesh as "is Galilee in Mount Naphtahi" (20:7). Its limited extent is indicated in 2Ki 15:29, where the historian, detailing the conquests of Tiglath-pileser, states that "he took Ijon, and Abel-Beth-Maachah, and Janaoh, and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtalai." Galilee, therefore, did not extend beyond the bounds of Naphtali; and a comparison with other passages shows that it embraced only the northern section of that tribe, or at least that the name was at first confined to that district (Jos 20:7; Jos 21:32; Josepheus, Ant. 5:1, 18). The region thus lay on the summit of a broad mountain ridge. Here were situated the towns which Solomon offered to Hiram as payment for his services in procuring timber and stones for the Temple. Hiram, however, whose great want was grain for his island city, and who doubtless expected a portion of some of the rich plains of central Palestine, could not conceal his disappointment when he saw the mountain towns and their rugged environs, and declined them as useless (1Ki 9:11, and 2Ch 8:2). SEE CABUL. At this period, Galilee, though within the allotted territory of Naphtali, does not appear to have been occupied by the Israelites. It was only after Hiram had declined the towns that Solomon rebuilt and colonized them (2 Chronicles l.c.). Hazor, the great stronghold and capital of the northern Canaanites, lay within or near Galilee; and, though Joshua had captured and burned it (Joshua 11), yet during the rule of the judges it was possessed by a king, Jabin, whose general, Sisera, dwelt in the neighboring Harosheth of the Gentiles (Judges 4). The presence of these powerful and war-like tribes, and the natural strength of the country, sufficiently account for the continued occupation of the old Gentile inhabitants. David subdued, but did not expel them. Solomon, as has been seen, took some of their towns; but they remained among these rugged mountains in such numbers that in the time of Insaiah the district was definitely known by the name of "Galilee of the Gentiles" (גּלַיל הִגּוֹיַם, Isa 9:1: in Mt 4:15, Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν in Macc. 5:15, Γαλιλαία ἀλλοφύλων). It is probable that the strangers increased in number, and became during the captivity the great body of the inhabitants; extending themselves also over the surrounding comsntry, they gave to their new territories the old name, until at length Galilee became one of the largest provinces of Palestine. In the time of the Maccabees, Galilee contained only a few Jews living in the midst of a large heathen population (1 Macc. 5:20-23); Strabo states that in his day it was chiefly inhabited by Syrians, Phoenicians, and Arabs (16, page 760); and Josephus says Greeks also dwelt in its cities (Life, 12). The name also Occurs in Tobit 1:2; Judith 11:8, etc.
In the time of our Lord, all Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judma, Samaria, and Galilee (Ac 9:31; Lu 17:11; Josephus, War, 3:3). The latter included the whole northern section of the country, comprising the ancient territories of Issachar, Zebulun, Asmer, and Naphtali. Josephus defines its boundaries, and gives a tolerably full description of its scenery, products, and population. He says the soil is rich and well cultivated; fruit and forest trees of all kinds abound; numerous large cities and populous villages, amounting in all to no less than two hundred and forty, thickly stud the whole face of the country; the inhabitants are industrious and warlike, being trained to arms from their infancy (War, 3:3, 3; Life, 45). 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 man along the base of Carmel and of the hills of Samaria to Mount Gilbaoa, and then descended the valley of Jezreel by Scythopolis to the Jordan. (The Talmud, Gittin, 7:7, gives a place called כפר עיתנאי as the southern limit.) The River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, aned the Upper Jordan to the fountain at Dan formed the eastern border (Reland, Palaest. page 181); and the northern ran from Dan westward across the mountain ridge till it touched the territory of the Phoenicians (Josephus, War, 3:3, 1; compare Lu 8:26). SEE PALESTINE.
Galilee was divided into two sections (Cyrill, c. Jul. 2), "Lower" (ἡ κατὰ) and "Upper" (ἡ ἄνω Γαλιλαία, Josephus, War, 2:20, 6; Ant. 5:1, 22). The Talmud has; a threefold division, with reference to the Sabbatical year (Shebiith, 9:2; "Upper Galilee [העליון] embraces all above Capharananias, and does not produce sycamores; Lower [חתחתוֹן], all below C., and bears sycamores; the valley is the territory of Tiberias" [the Ghor]). A single glance at the country shows that the division was natural. Lower Galilee included the great plain of Esdraelon, with its offshoots, which run 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. The words of Josephus are clear and important (War, 3:3, 1): "It extends from Tiberias to Zabuloia, adjacent to which, on the sea-coast, is Ptolemais. In breadth it stretches from a village called Xaloth, laing in the Great Plain, to Bersabe." "The village of Xaloth" is evidently the Chesullotom of Jos 19:12, now called Iksail, and situated at the base of Mount Tabor, on the northern border of the Great Plain (Porter, Handbook, page 359). But a comparison of Josephus, Ant. 20:6, 4, with War 3:2, 4 proves that Lower Galilee extended as far as the village of Ginea, the modern Jenin, on the extreme southern side of the plain. The site of the northern border town, Bersabe, is not known; but we learn incidentally that both Arbela and Jotopata were in Lower Galilee (Josephus, Life, 37; War, 2:20, 6); and as the former was situated near the northwest angle of the Lake of Tiberias, and be better about eight miles north of Nazareth (Porter, handbook, pages 432, 377), ewe coucluded timat Lower Galilee included the whole region extending from the plain of Akka, on the west, to the shores of the balke on the east. It was thus one of the richest and most beautiful sections of Palestine. The plain of Esdraelon presents an unbroken surface of fertile soil — soil so good that to enjoy it the tribe of Issachar condescended to a semi-nomadic state, and "became a servant to tribute" (De 33:18; Ge 49:14-15). With the exception of a few rocky summits around Nazareth the Dills are all wooded, sand sink down in graceful slopes to broad winding vales of the richest green. The outlines are varied, the colors soft, and the whole landscape is characterized by that picturesque luxuriance which one sees in parts of Tuscany. The blessings promised by Jacob and Moses to Zebulun and Asher seem to be here inscribed on the features of the country. Zebulun, nestling amid these hills, "offers sacrifices of righteousness" of the abundant flocks nourished by their rich panstures; he rejoices "in his goings out" along the fertile plain of Esdraaelon; "he sucks of the abundance of the seas" — his possessions skirting the Bay of Haifa at the base of Carmel; and he "sucks of treasures hid in the sand," possibly in allusion to the glass, which was first made from the sands of the River Belus (De 33:18-19; Pliny, 5:19; Tacitus, Hist. 5). Ashera dwelling amid the hills an the north-west of Zebulun, on the borders of Phienicia "dips his feet in oil," the produce of luxuriant olive groves such as still distinguish this region; "his bread," the produce of the plain of Phoenicia, and the fertile upland valleys "is fat;" "he yields royal dainties" — oil and wine from his olives and vineyards, and milk and butter from his pastures (Ge 49:20; De 33:24-25). The chief towns of Lower Galilee were Tiberias, Tarichaea, at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, and Sepphoris (Josephus, Life, 9, 25, 29, 37). The latter played an important part is the last great Jewish emar (Josephus, Life, 45; War, 2:18, 11). It is now called Sefurieh, and is situated about three miles south of Nazareth (Porter, Handbook, page 378). These were, besides, two strong fortresses, Jotapata, now called Jefat, and Mount Tabor (Josephus, War, 3:7, 3 sq.; 4:1, 6). The towns most celebrated in N.T. history are Nazareth, Cana, and Tiberias (Lu 1:26; Joh 2:1; Joh 6:1).
Upper Galilee, according to Josephus, extended from Bersabe on the south to thee village of Baca, on the borders of the territory of Tyre, and from Meloth as the west to Thella, a city near the Jordan (War, 3:3, 1). None of these places are now known, but there is no difficultv in ascertaining the position and approximate extent of the province. It embraced the whole mountaim range lying beteween the upper Jordan and Phoenicia. Its southern border ran along the foot of the Safed range from the northwest angle of the Sea of Galilee to the plain of Akka. To this region the name "Galilee of the Gentiles" is given in the O. and N.T. (Isa 9:1; Mt 4:15). So Eusebius states (Onom. s.v. Γαλιλαία). The town of Capernaum, on the north shore of the lake, was in Upper Galilee (Onom. s.v. Capharnaum), and this fact is important, as showing how far the province extended southward, and as proving that it, as well as Lower Galilee, touched the lake. The mountain range of Upper Galilee is a southern prolongation of Lebanon, from which it is separated by the deep ravine of the Leolates. SEE LEBANON. The summit of the range is talabe-land, part of which is beautifully wooded with dwarf oak, intermixed with tangled shrubberies of hawthorn and arbutus. The whole is varied lay fertile upland plains, green forest glades, and wild picturesque glens breaking down to the east and west. The population is still numerous and industrious, consisting chiefly of Metawileh, a sect of Mohamedans. Safed is the principal town, and contains about 4000 souls, one third of ehom are Jews. It is one of the four holy Jewish cities of Palestine, and has for three centuries or more been celebrated for the sacredness of its tombs and the learning of its rabbins. Safed seems to be the center of an extensive volcanic district. Shocks of earthquake are felt every few years. One occurred in 1837 which killed about 5000 persons (Porter, Handbook, page 438). Of the table-land of Upper Galilee lie the ruins of Kedesh- Naphtali (Jos 20:7), and Giscala (now el-Jish), a city fortified by Josephus, and celebrated as the last place in Galilee that held out against the Romans (War, 2:22, 6; 4:1, 1; 2, 1-5).
Galilee was the scene of the greater part of our Lord's private life and public acts (see Wichmannshausen, Dea Galilea, Vitelb. 1711; Buddeus, De Galilea rebus gestis Christi clara, Jen. 1718 [Miscell. Sacr. 3:1156 sq.]; Less, De Galatians Servat. miracc. theatro, Gott. 1175 [Opp. 1781, 2:369 sq.]). His early years were spent at Nazareth, and when he entered on his great work he made Capernaum his home (Mt 4:13; Mt 9:1). 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 Judaea (see Miller, De ordine rerum Christi in Galilea gestarum, Hal. 1770). The nature of our Lord's parables and illustrations weas greatly influenced by the peculiar features and products of the country. The vineyard, the fig-tree, thee shepherd, and the desert in the parable of the Good Samaritan, were all appropriate in Judaea while the corn-fields (Mt 4:25), the fisheries (Mt 13:47), the merchants (Mt 13:45), and the flowers (Mt 6:28), are no less appropriate in Galilee. The apostles were all either Galilaeans by birth or residence (Ac 1:11), and as such they were despised, as their master had been, by the proud Jews (Joh 1:46; Joh 7:52; Ac 2:7). It appears, also, that the pronunciation of those Jews who resided in Galilee had become peculiar, probably from their contact with their Gentile neighbors (Mt 26:73; Mr 14:70; see Lightfoot, Opp. 2:77). On the death of Herod the Great the province of Galilee was given by Caesar to his son Antipas (Joseph. War, 2:6, 3). After the destruction of Jerusalem Galilee became the chief seat of Jewish schools of learning, and the residence of their most celebrated rabbins. The National Council or Sanhedrimn was taken for a time to Jabneh in Philistia, but was soon removed to Sepphoris, and afterwards to Tiberias (Lightfoot, Opp. 2, page 141). The Mishna was here compiled by Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh (cir. A.D. 109220), and a few years afterwards the Gemara was added (Buxtorf, Tiberias, page 19). Remains of splendid synagogues still exist in many of the old towns and villages, showing that from the 2d to the 7th century the Jews were as prosperous as they were numerous (Porter, Handbook, pages 427, 440). SEE GALILAEAN.