Galilee (Hebrew: הגליל ha-Galil, lit: the province, Latin: Galileia, Arabic: الجليل al-Jaleel), is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee (Hebrew: גליל עליון Galil Elyon), Lower Galilee (Hebrew: גליל תחתון Galil Takhton), and Western Galilee (Hebrew: גליל מערבי Galil Maaravi), extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the ridges of Mount Carmel and Mount Gilboa to the south, and from the Jordan Rift Valley to the east across the plains of the Jezreel Valley and Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Coastal Plain in the west.
Most of Galilee consists of rocky terrain, at heights of between 500 and 700 meters. There are several high mountains including Mount Tabor and Mount Meron in the region, which have relatively low temperatures and high rainfall. As a result of this climate, flora and wildlife thrive in the region, while many birds annually migrate from colder climates to Africa and back through the Hulah-Jordan corridor. The streams and waterfalls, the latter mainly in Upper Galilee, along with vast fields of greenery and colorful wildflowers, as well as numerous towns of biblical importance, make the region a popular tourist destination.
Due to its high rainfall (900-1200 mm), mild temperatures and high mountains (Mount Meron's elevation is 1,000-1,208 meters), the upper Galilee region contains some unique flora and fauna : prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), Lebanese cedar (Cedrus libani), which grows in a small grove on Mount Meron, cyclamens, paeonias and Rhododendron ponticum which sometimes appears on Meron.
Jesus was from the Galilee. According to the Bible, Solomon rewarded Hiram I for certain services by giving him the gift of an upland plain among the mountains of Naphtali. Hiram called it "the land of Cabul". In Isaiah (8:23/9:1), the region is referred to as "the District of the Nations" (גְּלִיל - הַגּוׁיִם; lit:Glil HaGoyim), with much of this name being retained in its present name of Galil or HaGalil. According to one view, during the Hasmonean period, with the revolt of the Maccabees and the decline of the Seleucid Empire, Galilee was conquered by the newly independent state of Judaea, and the region was resettled by Jews. However, according to another view there were not particularly large-scale population movements during this period, Galilee became Jewish because its population decided to recognise the authority of the Jerusalem temple rather than the Samaritan temple.
In Roman times, the country was divided into Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprised the whole northern section of the country, and was the largest of the three regions. Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, ruled Galilee as tetrarch.
The Galilee region was presumably the home of Jesus during at least 30 years of his life. The first three Gospels of the New Testament are mainly an account of Jesus' public ministry in this province, particularly in the towns of Nazareth and Capernaum. Galilee is also cited as the place where Jesus cured a blind man.
After the Arab caliphate took control of the region in 638, it became part of Jund al-Urrdun (District of Jordan). Its major towns were Tiberias — which was capital of the district—Qadas, Baysan, Acre, Saffuriya and Kabul. The Shia Fatimids conquered the region in the 900s; a breakaway sect, venerating the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, formed the Druze religion, centered in and to north of, Galilee. Eastern Galilee, however, retained a Jewish majority for most of its history. During the Crusades, Galilee was organized into the Principality of Galilee, one of the most important Crusader seigneuries.
The Jewish population of Galilee increased significantly following their expulsion from Spain and welcome from the Ottoman Empire. The community for a time made Safed an international center of cloth weaving and manufacturing, as well as a key site for Jewish learning. Today it remains one of Judaism's four holy cities and a center for kabbalah.
In the mid 18th century, Galilee was caught up in a struggle between the Bedouin leader Dhaher al-Omar and the Ottoman authorities who were centered in Damascus. Al-Omar ruled Galilee for 25 years until Ottoman loyalist Jezzar Pasha conquered the region in 1775.
In the early 20th century, Galilee was inhabited by Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, Druze and Jews, whilst the Ottomans also settled minorities from elsewhere in their empire including Circassians and Bosniaks. Two Circassian villages exist in the Galilee region today. The Jewish population was increased significantly by Zionist immigration.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war nearly the whole of Galilee came under Israel's control. A large portion of the population fled, leaving dozens of entire villages empty; however, a large Israeli Arab community remained based in and near the cities of Nazareth, Acre, Tamra, Sakhnin and Shefa-'Amr, due to some extent to a successful rapprochement with the Druze. The kibbutzim around the Sea of Galilee were sometimes shelled by the Syrian army's artillery until Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War.
During the 1970s and the early 1980s, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) launched several attacks on towns of the Upper and Western Galilee from Lebanon. Israel initiated Operation Litani (1979) and Operation Peace For Galilee (1982) with the stated objectives of destroying the PLO infrastructure in Lebanon and protecting the citizens of the Galilee. Israel occupied much of Southern Lebanon until 1985 when it withdrew to a narrow security buffer zone.
Until the year 2000, Hezbollah, and earlier Amal, continued to fight the Israeli Defence Forces, sometimes shelling Upper Galilee communities with Katyusha rockets. In May 2000, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak unilaterally withdrew IDF troops from southern Lebanon, maintaining a security force on the Israeli side of the international border recognized by the UN. However, clashes between Hezbollah and Israel continued along the border, and UN observers condemned both for their attacks.
The 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict was characterized by round-the-clock Katyusha rocket attacks (with a greatly extended range) by Hezbollah on the whole of Galilee, with long-range ground-launched missiles, hitting as far south as the Sharon plain, Jezreel Valley, and Jordan Valley below the Sea of Galilee.
Today Galilee is home to a large Arab population, with a particularly large Druze population. The central portion of the Galilee also known as the "Heart of the Galilee" stretching from the border with Lebanon to the northern edge of the Jezreel Valley including the cities of Nazareth, Sakhnin, Shaghur, Tamra and Kafr Kanna has an Arab population of 78%. The Jewish Agency has attempted to increase the Jewish population in this area, but the non-Jewish population continues to grow. In 2006, out of the 1.2 million residents in the Galilee area some 53.1% were of various minorities, while only 46.9% were Jewish.
Because of its hilly terrain, most of the settlements in the Galilee are small villages connected by relatively few roads. A railroad runs south from Nahariya along the Mediterranean coast. The main sources of livelihood throughout the area are in the fields of agriculture and tourism. Industrial parks are being developed, bringing further employment opportunities to the local population which includes many recent immigrants. The Israeli government is contributing funding to the private initiative, The Galilee Finance Facility, organised by the Milken Institute and Koret Economic Development Fund.
Galilee is a popular destination for vacationing Israelis from other parts of the country who enjoy its scenery, recreational, and gastronomic offerings. Many kibbutzim and moshav families operate Zimmers (German: "room", the local term for a B&B). Numerous festivals are held throughout the year, especially in the autumn and spring holiday seasons. These include the Acco Festival of Alternative Theater, the olive harvest festival, and music festivals featuring Anglo-American folk, klezmer, Renaissance, and chamber music.
Galilee is often divided into the following sub-regions:
GALILEE (Heb. y '??, "border" or "ring," Gr. FaXtXata), a Roman province of Palestine north of Samaria, bounded S. by Samaria and the Carmel range, E. by the Jordan, N. by the Leontes (Litani), and W. by the Mediterranean and part of Phoenicia. Its maximum extent was about 60 m. north to south and 30 east to west. The name in the Hebrew Scriptures hardly had a definite territorial significance. It literally means a ring or circuit, and, like analogous words in English, could be applied to various districts. Thus Joshua (xiii. 2) and Joel (iii. 4) refer to the Geliloth (" borders, coast") of the Philistines or of Palestine; Joshua again (xxii. 10, i 1) and Ezekiel (xlvii. 8) mention the Jordan valley plain as the "Geliloth of Jordan" in "the Eastern Gelilah." In its more restricted connotation, denoting the district to which it is usually applied or a part thereof, it is found in Joshua xx. 7, xxi. 32, i Chr. vi. 76, as the place where was situated the town of Kadesh; and in i Kings ix. II, the district of "worthless" cities given by Solomon to Hiram. In Isa. ix. i we find the full name of the district, Galil ha-Goyim, literally "the ring,' circuit or border of the foreigners" - referring to the Phoenicians, Syrians and Aramaeans, by whose country the province, was on three sides surrounded. In r Kings xv. 29 it is specified as one of the districts whose population was deported by Tiglath-Pileser. Throughout the Old Testament history, however, Galilee as a whole cannot be said to have a history; the unit of territorial subdivision was tribal rather than provincial, and though such important events as those associated with the names of Barak, Gideon, Gilboa, Armageddon, took place within its borders, yet these belong rather to the histories of Issachar, Zebulon, Asher or Naphtali, whose territories together almost correspond with Galilee, than to the province itself.
After the Jewish return from exile the population confined itself to Judaea, and Galilee was left in the possession of the mixed multitude of successors established there by the Assyrians. When it once more came into Israelite hands is uncertain; it is generally supposed that its reconquest was due to John Hyrcanus. Before very long it developed a nationalism and patriotism as intense as that of Judaea itself, notwithstanding the contempt with which the metropolitans of Jerusalem looked down upon the Galilean provincials. Stock proverbial sayings such as "Out of Galilee cometh no prophet" (though Deborah, Jonah, Elisha, and probably Hosea, were Galileans) were apparently common. Provincialism of speech (Matt. xxvi. 73) distinguished the Galileans; it appears that they confused the gutturals in pronunciation.
Under the Roman domination Galilee was made a tetrarchate governed by members of the Herod family. Herod the Great was tetrarch of Galilee in 47 B.C.; in 4 B.C. he was succeeded by his son Antipas. Galilee was the land of Christ's boyhood and the chief centre of His active work, and in His various ministries here some of His chief discourses were uttered (as the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. v.) and some of His chief miracles performed.
After the destruction of Jerusalem the Judaean Rabbinic schools took refuge in the Galilee they had heretofore despised. No ancient remains of Jewish synagogues exist except those that have been identified in some of the ancient Galilean towns, such as Tell Hum (Talhum), Kerazeh, Kefr Bir`im, and elsewhere. One of the chief centres of Rabbinism was Safed, still a sacred city of the Jews and largely inhabited by members of that faith. Near here is Meirun, a place much revered by the Jews as containing the tombs of Hillel, Shammai and Simon ben Yohai; a yearly festival in honour of these rabbis is here celebrated. At Tiberias also are the tombs of distinguished Jewish teachers, including Maimonides.
The province was subdivided into two parts, Upper and Lower Galilee, the two being divided by a ridge running west to east, which prolonged would cut the Jordan about midway between Huleh and the Sea of Galilee. Lower Galilee includes the plains of Buttauf and Esdraelon.
The whole of Galilee presents country more or less disturbed by volcanic action. In the lower division the hills are all tilted up towards the east, and broad streams of lava have flowed Lower over the plateau above the sea of Galilee. In this district the highest hills are only about 1800 ft. above the sea. The ridge of Nazareth rises north of the great plain of Esdraelon, and north of this again is the fertile basin of the Buttauf, separated from the sea-coast plains by low hills. East of the Buttauf extends the basaltic plateau called Sahel el Ahma ("the inaccessible plain"), rising 1700 ft. above the Sea of Galilee. North of the Buttauf is a confused hill country, the spurs falling towards a broad valley which lies at the foot of the mountains of Upper Galilee. This broad valley, running westwards to the coast, is perhaps the old boundary of Zebulun - the valley of Jiphthah-el (Josh. xix. 14). The great plain of Esdraelon is of triangular form, bounded by Gilboa on the east and by the ridge which runs to Carmel on the west. It is 14 m. long from Jenin to the Nazareth hills, and its southern border is about 20 m. long. It rises 200 ft. above the sea, the hills on both sides being some 1500 ft. higher. The whole drainage is collected by the Kishon, which runs through a narrow gorge at the north-west corner of the plain, descending beside the ridge of Carmel to the sea. TO broad valley of Jezreel on the east, descending towards the Jordan valley, forms the gate by which Palestine is entered from beyond Jordan. Mount Tabor stands isolated in the plain at the north-east corner, and rather farther south the conical hill called Nebi Du hi rises between Tabor and Gilboa. The whole of Lower Galilee is well watered. The Kishon is fed by springs from near Tabor and from a copious stream from the west side of the plain of Esdraelon. North-west of Nazareth is Wadi el 1Ielek, an open valley full of springs. The river Belus, just south of Acre, risingin the sea-coast marshes, drains the whole valley above identified with Jiphthah-el. On the east the broad valley of Jezreel is full of magnificent springs, many of which are thermal. The plains of Esdraelon, and the Buttauf, and the plateau of el-Ahma are all remarkable for the rich basaltic soil which covers them, in which corn, cotton, maize, sesame, tobacco, millet and various kinds of vegetable are grown, while indigo and sugar-cane were cultivated in former times. The Nazareth hills and Gilboa are bare and white, but west of Nazareth is a fine oak wood, and another thick wood spreads over the northern slopes of Tabor. The hills west of the great .plain are partly of bare white chalk, partly covered with dense thickets. The mountains north of the Buttauf are rugged and covered with scrub, except near the villages, where fine olive groves exist. The principal places of importance in Lower Galilee are Nazareth (10,000 inhabitants), Sepphoris (now Seffuria), a large village standing above the Buttauf on the spurs of the southern hills, and Jenin (En Gannim), a flourishing village, with a palm garden (3000 inhabitants). The ancient capital, Jezreel (Zerin), is now a miserable village on a precipitous spur of Gilboa; north of this are the small mud hamlets, Solam (Shunem), Endur (Endor), Nein (Nain); on the west side of the plain is the ruin of Lej j fin (the Legio of the 4th century, which was then a place of importance). In the hills north of the Buttauf is Jefat, situated on a steep hill-top, and representing the Jotapata defended by Josephus. Kefr Kenna, now a flourishing Christian village at the foot of the Nazareth hills, south of the Buttauf, is one of the sites identified with Cana of Galilee, and the ruin Kana, on the north side of the same plain, represents the site pointed out to the pilgrims of the 12th and 13th centuries.
The mountains are tilted up towards the Sea of Galilee, and the drainage of the district is towards the north-west. On the south the rocky range of Jebel Jarmuk rises to nearly 4000 ft. above the sea; on the east a narrow ridge 2800 ft. high forms Galilee the watershed, with steep eastern slopes falling towards Jordan. Immediately west of the watershed are two small plateaus covered with basaltic debris, near el-Jish and Kades. On the west are rugged mountains with deep intricate valleys. The main drains of the country are - first, Wadi el `Ayun, rising north of Jebel Jarmuk, and running north-west as an open valley; and secondly, Wadi el Ahjar, a rugged precipitous gorge running north to join the Leontes. The district is well provided with springs throughout, and the valleys are full of water in the spring-time. Though rocky and difficult, Upper Galilee is not barren, the soil of the plateaus is rich, and the vine flourishes in the higher hills, especially in the neighbourhood of Kefr Bir'im. The principal town is Safed, perched on a white mountain 2700 ft. above the sea. It has a population of about 9000, including Jews, Christians and Moslems.
Josephus gives a good description of the Galilee of his time in Wars, iii. 3.2: "The Galileans are inured to war from their infancy, and have been always very numerous; nor hath the country been ever destitute of men of courage or wanted a numerous set of them; for their soil is universally rich and fruitful, and full of plantations of trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation.... Moreover, the cities lie here very thick, and the very many villages there are here are everywhere full of people." Though the population is diminished and the cities ruinous, the country is still remarkable for fertility, thanks to the copiousness of its water-supply draining from the Lebanon mountains.
The antiquities of Galilee include dolmens and rude stone monuments, rock-cut tombs, and wine-presses, with numerous remains of Byzantine monasteries and fine churches of the time of the crusades. There are also remains of Greek architecture in various places; but the most interesting buildings are the ancient synagogues, of which some eleven examples are now known. They are rectangular, with the door to the south, and two rows of columns forming aisles east and west. The architecture is a peculiar and debased imitation of classic style, attributed by architects to the 2nd century A.D. In Kefr Bir`im there were remains of two synagogues, but early in the 10th century one of them was completely destroyed by a local stone-mason. At Irbid, above Tiberias, is another synagogue of rather different character. Traces of synagogues have also been found on Carmel, and at Tireh, west of Nazareth. It is curious to find the representation of various animals in relief on the lintels of these buildings. Hebrew inscriptions also occur, and the carved work of the cornices and capitals is rich though debased.
In the 12th century Galilee was the outpost of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, and its borders were strongly protected by fortresses, the magnificent remains of which still crown the most important strategical points. Toron (mod. Tibnin) was built in 1104, the first fortress erected by the crusaders, and standing on the summit of the mountains of Upper Galilee. Beauvoir (Kaukab el-Hawa, built in 1182) stood on a precipice above Jordan south-west of the Sea of Galilee, and guarded the advance by the valley of Jezreel; and about the same time Château Neuf (Hunin) was erected above the Huleh lake. Belfort (esh Shukif), on the north bank of the Leontes, the finest and most important, dates somewhat earlier; and Montfort (Kalat el Kurn) stood on a narrow spur north-east of Acre, completing the chain of frontier fortresses. The town of Banias, with its castle, formed also a strong outpost against Damascus, and was the scene, in common with the other strongholds, of many desperate encounters between Moslems and Christians. Lower Galilee was the last remaining portion of the Holy Land held by the Christians. In 1 2 50 the knights of the Teutonic order owned lands extending round Acre as far east as the Sea of Galilee, and including Safed. These possessions were lost in 1291, on the fall of Acre.
The population of Galilee is mixed. In Lower Galilee the peasants are principally Moslem, with a sprinkling of Greek Christians round Nazareth, which is a Christian town. In Upper Galilee, however, there is a mixture of Jews and Maronites, Druses and Moslems (natives or Algerine settlers), while the slopes above the Jordan are inhabited by wandering Arabs. The Jews are engaged in trade, and the Christians, Druses and Moslems in agriculture; and the Arabs are an entirely pastoral people. (C. R. C.; R. A. S. M.)
From Hebrew הגליל (hagalil).
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 (Acts 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 (Jn 7:45-52), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Comp. Deut 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.).
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