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Gal´uh-lee; Heb. galil

The region of northern Palestine situated between the Litani River in modern Lebanon and the Jezreel Valley in modern Israel. The designation “Galilee” first occurs as a proper name in Joshua (Josh 20:7, Josh 21:32) and in Chronicles (1Chr 6:76) in reference to the site of Qadesh of Naphtali. The expression “in the land of Galilee” occurs in (1Kgs 9:11), and in (Isa 9:1) Galilee is described as a land of foreigners. The name occurs regularly in the writings of the first-century historian Josephus, who maintains that there were 204 villages in Galilee (Life 45.235). Jewish settlement in Galilee followed the Maccabean revolt in 164 BCE. With the Roman conquest of Palestine in 63 BCE, Pompey recaptured many Galilean cities and incorporated them into a new Roman administration. Under Herod the Great (40–4 BCE), Galilee, together with Judea and Perea, formed a large portion of the Roman province of Judea. Upon Herod’s death in 4 BCE, Galilee and Perea were made part of the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, his son. Galilee constitutes the area in which Jesus conducted the major part of his ministry. His youth and early ministry took place in Nazareth in Lower Galilee; much of his public ministry was located at the northwestern end of the Sea of Galilee, at Capernaum, which was known as Jesus’s own city (Matt 9:1). Galilee is also the area in which Judaism assumed its definitive form, ultimately producing the Mishnah and Palestinian Talmud there.

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.