In the Greek period the customary name for the northern division of western Palestine. The name is formed from "ha-Galil," in the Old Testament (Josh. xx. 7, xxi. 32, LXX.; I Kings ix. 11; II Kings xv. 29; I Chron. vi. 61), or from "Gelil ha-Goyim" (circle of the heathens; Isa. viii. 23; comp. I Macc. v. 15), and designates the mountainous country which rises east of the plain of Jezreel, and extends as far as Lebanon and Antilebanon. Galilee was divided into two sections, Lower or South Galilee, and Upper or North Galilee, which were separated by the plain of Ramah (comp. Josh. xix. 36).
Politically a Jewish country, Galilee, according to Josephus ("B. J." iii. 3, § 1), was bounded north and west by the Tyrian territory, south by Samaria and Scythopolis, and east by the trans-Jordanic country and the Lake of Gennesaret. Josephus also divides the Galilean mountain-range into two sections, Upper and Lower Galilee, which division corresponds to the natural division of the country as just stated. According to the same author, Upper Galilee was bounded on the south by Bersaba (perhaps the ruined Abu Sheba south from the plain of Ramah; on the west by Meroth (the position of which can not be positively determined); on the north by Baca (also unknown); and on the east by Thella on the Jordan. Lower Galilee extended in the west to Chabulon near Ptolemais; in the south to Exaloth, that is, Chisloth (Josh. xix. 12, 18); and in the east to Tiberias. From other passages in Josephus it appears that the Jewish section of Galilee did not extend far north; for Kadesh was already in Tyrian possession ("B. J." ii. 18, §, 1, and often elsewhere). On the other hand, in the specification of the boundary-lines according to the Talmud (see Hildesheimer, "Beiträge zur Geographie Palästinas," 1886), the northeastern boundary of Galilee extends farther west and north, namely, from Ptolemais through Ga'ton (now Ja'ṭun), Bet Zenita (Zuwenita), Ḳastra de-Gelil (Gelil), Kur (Al-Kura),Yatir (Ya'tir), and Tafnit (Tibnin) to Marj 'Ayun.
Galilee, a beautiful and very fertile country, isjustly praised by Josephus ("B. J." iii. 3, § 2). According to his statement, it included a number of cities and many villages, the smallest of which had not fewer than 15,000 inhabitants. This is doubtless an exaggeration, though the density of the population is beyond question. As early as Old Testament times the population of this region was greatly mixed; and it became more so after the downfall of the Ephraimitic kingdom. During the Maccabean struggle the Jews of Galilee constituted such a small number that they could all be brought to Jerusalem (I Macc. v. 23).
It is not expressly stated when Galilee was taken by the Maccabees, but Schürer's suggestion ("Gesehichte," 3d ed., i. 275 et seq.), that the section of the Iturean territory which Aristobulus I. conquered (Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 11, § 3) was Galilee, is probably correct. Undoubtedly many Jews subsequently emigrated to that blessed land, so that the population became predominantly Jewish, as is described in the New Testament and by Josephus. Upon the death of Herod the Great, Galilee was apportioned to Herod Antipas; and after his deposition it was incorporated into the province of Syria, a part of which it continued to form, except under the short rule of Agrippa (40-44).
After the fall of the Jewish state a new period of prosperity set in for Galilee; and it gradually became the center of Jewish life in Palestine.
Galilee is enumerated mainly for religio-legal purposes in the Talmud (B. B. iii. 2; Ket. xiii. 9; Tosef., Ket., end; Sanh. 11b; et al.). It comprised the northern territory east of the Jordan, which river constituted the frontier. Kefar 'Awtanai (Giṭ. vii. 8) was at its southern boundary (see Josephus, "B. J." iii. 3, § 1). According to Sheb. ix. 2, Galilee was divided into three parts: Upper Galilee (above Kefar Ḥananyah, where no sycamores are found), Lower Galilee (land of sycamores), and the plain (the, Teḥum, or territory of Tiberias). In the letter addressed to his "brethren" of Galilee by R. Gamaliel (Tosef., 'Eduy. ii.; Sanh. ii.; ib. 77a) the plain is not specified.
This province is praised for the fertility of its fields and vineyards (Meg. 6a); its fruits are very sweet (Ber.44a). Olive-oil was one of its chief products (Sifre, Deut. 33, in blessing of Asher). "It is easier to raise a legion of olive-trees in Galilee than one child in Palestine" (Ber. R. xx.), Special Galilean jars were manufactured for the storing of oil (Kelim ii. 2). Wine, on the other hand, was scarce (Nazir 31b). Linen was abundant, and the women were famous for the fineness of their homespun (B. Ḳ. 119).Characteristics of Galileans.
The inhabitants, partly pagan, partly Jewish, are said to have been quarrelsome and of a disobliging disposition (Ned. 48a; Tosef., Giṭ. vi.). Still one exception showing delicate appreciation of the true implications of charity is mentioned (Tosef., Peah, viii.): an impoverished old man was served the delicacies he had indulged in in his prosperous days. The Galileans were more solicitous of their honor than of their property (Yer. Ket. iv. 14). Widows were treated with consideration (Ket. iv. 14). Young married people were not permitted to be alone immediately after the nuptial ceremony (Ket. 12a). At funerals the preacher of the funeral oration preceded the bier; in Judea he followed (Shab. 158a). It is said in the Talmud that Jose b. Joezer of Zeredah and Jose b. Johanan of Jerusalem declared the country of the nations ("Ereẓ ha-'Ammim") unclean (Shab. 14b, 15a). Rashi understands by "Ereẓ ha-'Ammim" the country of the Gentiles-that is, the country outside of Palestine; but Kaminka concludes that Galilee is meant, the name being similar to the Biblical "Gelil ha-Goyim." Thus there is an essential difference with regard to ritual observance of cleanliness between Judea and Galilee.
On the whole, the Galileans are said to have been strict in their religious observances (M. Ḳ. 23a; Pes. 55a; Yer. R. H. iv. 6; Yer. Soṭah ix. 10). Measures and weights were peculiar in Galilee: 1 Judean se'ah = 5 Galilean se'ah; 5 Judean sela = 10 Galilean sela (B. B. 122b; Ḥul. 137b). The Galilean Sicarii were dreaded (Tosef., Giṭ. ii.). Study of the traditions was not one of the Galilean virtues, neither was their dialectic method very flexible ('Er. 53a). But it is for their faulty pronunciation that the Galileans are especially remembered: 'ayin and alef, and the gutturals generally, were confounded, no distinction being made between words like '"amar" (= "ḥamor," uss), "ḥamar" (wine), "'amar" (a garment), "emar" (a lamb: 'Er. 53b); therefore Galileans were not permitted to act as readers of public prayers (Meg. 24b). Still, according to Geiger ("Orient," iv. 432), to the Galileans must be ascribed the origin of the Haggadah. Galilee was very rich in towns and hamlets (Yer. Meg. i. 1), among which were Sepphoris ( or ) Asha, Shephar'am, BetShe'arim, Tiberias, Magdala, Kefar Ḥananyah, 'Akbara, Acco, Paneas, Cæsarea. On Galil, a place of the same name as the province, see Hildesheimer, "Beiträge zur Geographic Palästinas," P. 80.
- Neubauer, La Géographic du Talmud, Paris, 1868;
- Dalman, Grammatik des Jüdisch-Palästinischen Aramäisch, Leipsic, 1899;
- Hirsch Hildesheimer, Beiträge zur Geographic Palästinas, p. 80;
- Guérin, Galilée, 1880;
- Merrill, Galilee in the Time of Christ, London, 1885;
- George Adam Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, London, 1894;
- A. Kaminka, Studien zur Geschichte Galiläas, Berlin, 1890.