Galilee (Hebrew: הגליל, transliteration HaGalil); Arabic:
الجليل, translit. al-Jalīl) is a region in northern Israel.
Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided
Upper Galilee (Hebrew: גליל עליון Galil Elyon) and
Lower Galilee (Hebrew: גליל תחתון Galil Tahton).
In the modern common usage,
Galilee refers to all of the area that is
Mount Carmel to the northeast, extending from Dan to the north,
at the base of Mount Hermon, along
Mount Lebanon to the ridges of
Mount Carmel and
Mount Gilboa north of
Jenin 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, including Beth Shean's valley, Sea of Galilee's
valley, and Hula Valley, although it usually does not include Haifa's
immediate northern suburbs.
By this definition it overlaps with much of the administrative
Northern District of the country (which also includes the Golan
Heights and part of
Menashe Heights but not Qiryat Tiv'on). Western
Galilee (Hebrew: גליל מערבי Galil Ma'aravi) is a common
term referring to the western part of the
Upper Galilee and its shore,
and usually also the northwestern part of the Lower Galilee, mostly
overlapping with Acre sub district.
Galilee Panhandle is a common term
referring to the "panhandle" in the east that extends to the north,
Lebanon is to the west, and includes
Hula Valley and Ramot
Naftali mountains of the Upper Galilee. Historically, the part of
Southern Lebanon south of the east-west section of the Litani River
also belonged to the region of Galilee, but the present article mainly
deals with the Israeli part of the region.
3.1 Ancient times
3.2 Classical antiquity
3.3 Middle Ages
3.4 Ottoman era
3.5 British administration and Israeli rule
9 See also
11 Further reading
The region's Israelite name is from the
Hebrew root galil, an
ultimately unique word for "district", and usually "circle". The
Hebrew form used in Isaiah 8:23 (or 9:1 in different Biblical
versions) is in the construct state, "g'lil hagoyim", meaning "Galilee
of the Nations", i.e. the part of
Galilee inhabited by Gentiles at the
time that the book was written.
The region in turn gave rise to the English name for the "Sea of
Galilee" referred to as such in many languages including ancient
Arabic. In the
Hebrew language, the lake is referred to as Kinneret
(Numbers 34:11, etc.), from
Hebrew kinnor, "harp", describing its
Lake of Gennesaret
Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1, etc.), from
Ginosar (Hebrew) ge,
"valley", and either netser, "branch", or natsor, "to guard", "to
watch" (the name which may have been a reference to
alternatively renamed the
Sea of Tiberias
Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1, etc.), from the
Tiberias at its southwestern end, named after the Greek
Tiberius following the first-century CE Roman Emperor's Greek derived
name. These are the three names used in originally internal
Jewish-authored literature rather than the "Sea of Galilee".
However, Jews did use "the Galilee" to refer to the whole region
(Aramaic הגלילי), including its lake.
Galilee consists of rocky terrain, at heights of between 500
and 700 m. Several high mountains are in the region, including
Mount Tabor and Mount Meron, which have relatively low temperatures
and high rainfall. As a result of this climate, flora and fauna thrive
in the region, while many birds annually migrate from colder climates
to Africa and back through the Hula–Jordan corridor. The streams and
waterfalls, the latter mainly in Upper Galilee, along with vast fields
of greenery and colourful wildflowers, as well as numerous towns of
biblical importance, make the region a popular tourist destination.
Due to its high rainfall 900 millimetres (35 in)–1,200
millimetres (47 in), mild temperatures and high mountains (Mount
Meron's elevation is 1,000–1,208 m), the upper
contains some distinctive 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.
Map of Galilee, circa 50 CE
Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish, in the Sea of Galilee
According to the Bible,
Galilee was named by the Israelites and was
the tribal region of Naphthali and Dan, at times overlapping the Tribe
of Asher's land. However, Dan was dispersed among the whole people
rather than isolated to the lands of Dan, as the Tribe of Dan was the
hereditary local law enforcement and judiciary for the whole
nation.[non-primary source needed] Normally,[when?]
Galilee is just
referred to as Naphthali.
Chapter 9 of
1 Kings states that
Solomon rewarded his Phoenician ally,
King Hiram I of Sidon, with twenty cities in the land of Galilee,
which would then have been either settled by foreigners during and
after the reign of Hiram, or by those who had been forcibly deported
there by later conquerors such as the Assyrians. Hiram, to reciprocate
previous gifts given to David, accepted the upland plain among the
mountains of Naphtali and renamed it "the land of Cabul" for a
In Roman times, the client kingdom of
Judea was divided into Judea,
Samaria, the Paralia (Palestine), and Galilee, which comprised the
whole northern section of the country, and was the largest of the
three regions under the Tetrarchy (Judea). After
Judea became a Roman
province in 6 CE,
Galilee briefly became a part of it, then separated
from it for two to three centuries.
Galilee region was presumably the home of
Jesus during at least 30
years of his life. Much of the first three Gospels of the New
Testament give 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 performed many public miracles,
including curing a blind man. After the death of Jesus, some accounts
suggest his disciples returned to
Galilee and their experience of His
resurrection took place there.
Many of the important Tannaim, the Rabbinic sages whose views are
recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud, claim to have also spent their
lives there, including Honi Ha-Ma'agel, Jose the Galilean, and Ishmael
the Galilean, among many others. Traditional rabbinic sources assert
that the followers of the rabbis from the
Galilee were widely reputed
to believe their teachers (rabbis) were miracle workers, as opposed to
those from Judea, Persia, and Babylon, who rarely are credited with
miracles. Many are cited for their large number of
students and followers throughout the
Jewish people among the
common people. The
Galilee among the
Jewish population was known as a
wellspring of miracle workers and mystical philosophers of all types,
especially just prior to the major split between Jesus' followers and
those who opposed Jesus. According to the Talmud, one
of the most important founders of the modern
Jewish faith, Johanan ben
Zakai, was born there. Simeon bar Yochai, one of the most famed of all
the Tannaim, hid from the Romans in the Galilee, and dug tunnels there
to hide. Many miracles are ascribed to him during his
Galilean period after escaping
Judea proper. In medieval Hebrew
legend, he may have written the
Zohar while there.
The archaeological discoveries of synagogues from the Hellenistic and
Roman period in the
Galilee show strong Phoenician influences, and a
high level of tolerance for other cultures, relative to other
Jewish sacred sites from the period, the latter being "cleansed of
Galilee retained a
Jewish majority until at least
the seventh century.
Arab caliphate took control of the region in 638, it became
Jund al-Urdunn (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 10th century; a
breakaway sect, venerating the
Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, formed the
Druze religion, centered in
Mount Lebanon and partially Galilee.
During the Crusades,
Galilee was organized into the Principality of
Galilee, one of the most important Crusader seigneuries.
During Early Ottoman era, the
Galilee was governed as the Safad
Sanjak, initially part of the larger administrative unit of Damascus
Eyalet (1549–1660) and later as part of
Sidon Eyalet (1660–1864).
During the 18th century, the administrative division of
renamed to Acre Sanjak, and the Eyalet itself became centered in Acre,
factually becoming the Acre Eyalet between 1775 and 1841.
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 mid-17th century
Mount Lebanon became the scene of the
Druze power struggle, which came in parallel with much destruction in
the region and decline of major cities.
In the mid-18th century,
Galilee was caught up in a struggle between
Zahir al-Umar and the Ottoman authorities who were
centred in Damascus. Zahir ruled
Galilee for 25 years until Ottoman
Jezzar Pasha conquered the region in 1775.
In 1831, the Galilee, a part of Ottoman Syria, switched hands from
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt until 1840. During this period,
aggressive social and politic policies were introduced, which led to a
Arab revolt. In the process of this revolt the Jewish
Safed was greatly reduced, in the event of
by the rebels. The
Arab rebels were subsequently defeated by the
Egyptian troops, though in 1838, the
Galilee led another
uprising. In 1834 and 1837, major earthquakes leveled most of the
towns, resulting in great loss of life.
Following the 1864 Tanszimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire, the
Galilee remained within Acre Sanjak, but was transferred from Sidon
Eyalet to the newly formed
Syria Vilayet and shortly, from 1888,
became administered from Beirut Vilayet.
In 1866, Galilee's first hospital, the
Nazareth Hospital, was founded
under the leadership of American-Armenian missionary Dr. Kaloost
Vartan, assisted by German missionary John Zeller.
The territory of the Ottoman Beirut Vilayet, encompassing the Galilee
In the early 20th century,
Galilee remained part of
Acre Sanjak of
Ottoman Syria. It was administered as the southernmost territory of
the Beirut Vilayet.
British administration and Israeli rule
Following the defeat of the
Ottoman Empire in World War I, and the
Armistice of Mudros, it came under British rule, as part of the
Occupied Enemy Territory Administration. Shortly after, in 1920, the
region was included in the British Mandate territory, officially a
part of Mandatory Palestine from 1923.
After the 1948 Arab–Israeli war, nearly the whole of
under Israel's control. A large portion of the population fled or was
forced to leave, leaving dozens of entire villages empty; however, a
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
Sea of Galilee were sometimes shelled by the Syrian army's artillery
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 and villages of
the Upper and Western
Galilee from Lebanon.
Israel initiated Operation
Litani (1979) and
Operation Peace For Galilee
Operation Peace For Galilee (1982) with the stated
objectives of destroying the PLO infrastructure in
protecting the citizens of the Galilee.
Israel occupied much of
Lebanon until 1985, when it withdrew to a narrow security
Until 2000, Hezbollah, and earlier Amal, continued to fight the Israel
Defense 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 United Nations. However, clashes between Hezbollah
Israel continued along the border, and UN observers condemned both
for their attacks.
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.
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee as seen from the
Sign in front of the Galil Jewish–
Arab School, a joint Arab-Jewish
primary school in the Galilee
Further information: Demographics of Israel
The largest cities in the region are Acre, Nahariya, Nazareth, Safed,
Karmiel, Shaghur, Shefa-'Amr, Afula, and Tiberias. The port city
Haifa serves as a commercial center for the whole region.
Because of its hilly terrain, most of the people in the
in small villages connected by relatively few roads. A railroad
runs south from
Nahariya along the Mediterranean coast, and a fork to
the east is due to operate in 2015. The main sources of livelihood
throughout the area are 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 home to a large
Arab population, comprising a
Muslim majority and two smaller populations, of
Druze and Arab
Christians, of comparable sizes. Both Israeli
Druze and Christians
have their majorities in the Galilee. Other notable minorities
are the Bedouin, the Maronites and the Circassians.
The north-central portion of the
Galilee is also known as Central
Galilee, stretching from the border with
Lebanon to the northern edge
of the Jezreel Valley, including the cities of
Nazareth and Sakhnin,
Arab majority of 75% with most of the
Jewish population living
in hilltop cities like Upper Nazareth. The northern half of the
central Lower Galilee, surrounding
Sakhnin is known as the
"Heart of the Galilee". The eastern
Galilee is nearly 100% Jewish.
This part includes the Finger of the Galilee, the Jordan River Valley,
and the shores the Sea of Galilee, and contains two of Judaism's Four
Holy Cities. The southern part of the Galilee, including Jezreel
Valley, and the Gilboa region are also nearly 100% Jewish, with a few
Arab villages near the
West Bank border. About 80% of the
population of the Western
Galilee is Jewish, all the way up to the
Lebanese border. Jews also form a small majority in the mountainous
Upper Galilee with a significant minority
Arab population (mainly
Druze and Christians).
Jewish Agency has attempted to increase the
Jewish population in
this area, but the non-
Jewish population also has a high growth
rate, As of 2006[update], there were 1.2 million residents in
Galilee, of which 47% were Jewish.
Galilee is attracting significant internal migration of
Haredi Jews, who are increasingly moving to the
Galilee and Negev as
an answer to rising housing prices in central Israel.
Further information: Tourism in Israel
Galilee is a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists who
enjoy its scenic, recreational, and gastronomic offerings. The Galilee
attracts many Christian pilgrims, as many of the miracles of Jesus
occurred, according to the New Testament, on the shores of the Sea of
Galilee—including his walking on water, calming the storm, and
feeding five thousand people in Tabgha. In addition, numerous sites of
biblical importance are located in the Galilee, such as Megiddo,
Jezreel Valley, Mount Tabor, Hazor, Horns of Hattin, and more.
A popular hiking trail known as the yam leyam, or sea-to-sea, starts
hikers at the Mediterranean. They then hike through the Galilee
mountains, Tabor, Neria, and Meron, until their final destination, the
Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
In April 2011,
Israel unveiled the "
Jesus Trail", a 40-mile (60-km)
hiking trail in the
Galilee for Christian pilgrims. The trail includes
a network of footpaths, roads, and bicycle paths linking sites central
to the lives of
Jesus and his disciples, including Tabgha, the
traditional site of Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fishes, and the
Mount of Beatitudes, where he delivered his Sermon on the Mount. It
Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus
espoused his teachings.
Church of the Transfiguration
Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
Many kibbutzim and moshav families operate Zimmern (German: "rooms",
the local term for a Bed and breakfasts). Numerous festivals are held
throughout the year, especially in the autumn and spring holiday
seasons. These include the Acre (Acco) Festival of Alternative
Theater, the olive harvest festival, music festivals featuring
Anglo-American folk, klezmer, Renaissance, and chamber music, and
Karmiel Dance Festival.
The cuisine of the
Galilee is very diverse. The meals are lighter than
in the central and southern regions. Dairy products are heavily
consumed (especially the
Safed cheese that originated in the mountains
of the Upper Galilee). Herbs like thyme, mint, parsley, basil, and
rosemary are very common with everything including dips, meat, fish,
stews and cheese. In the eastern part of the Galilee, freshwater fish
as much as meat (especially the tilapia that lives in the Sea of
Galilee, Jordan river, and other streams in the region), fish filled
with thyme and grilled with rosemary to flavor, or stuffed with
oregano leaves, then topped with parsley and served with lemon to
squash. This technique exists in other parts of the country including
the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. A specialty of the
region is a baked Tilapia flavored with celery, mint and a lot of
lemon juice. Baked fish with tahini is also common in
the coastal Galileans prefer to replace the tahini with yogurt and add
sumac on top.
Galilee is famous for its olives, pomegranates, wine and
Za'atar which is served with pita bread, meat
stews with wine, pomegranates and herbs such as akub, parsley,
khalmit, mint, fennel, etc. are common.
Galilean kubba is usually
flavored with cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, concentrated pomegranate
juice, onion, parsley and pine nuts and served as meze with tahini
dip. Kebabs are also made almost in the same way with sumac replacing
cardamom and with carob sometimes replacing the pomegranate juice.
Because of its climate, beef has become more popular than lamb,
although both are still eaten there. Dates are popular in the tropical
climate of the Eastern Galilee.
Galilee is often divided into these subregions:
Lower Galilee covers the area north of the Valleys (Jezreel, Harod and
Beth Shean Valley) and south of the Beit HaKerem Valley. Its borders
to the east on the Jordan Rift Valley. It contains the
Arab village of
Upper Galilee extends from the Beit HaKerem
Valley northwards into
southern Lebanon. Its eastern border is the
Hula Valley and the Sea of
Galilee separating it from the Golan Heights. To the west it reaches
to the Coastal Plain which separates it from the Mediterranean.
The Jezreel Valley
Valley of Beit She'an
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee and its valley
The Hula Valley
Galilee in its minimal definition refers to the coastal plain
just west of the Upper Galilee, also known as Plain of Asher, or Plain
of the Galilee, which stretches from north of Acre to Rosh HaNikra on
Lebanon border, and in the common broad definition adds the
western part of Upper Galilee, and usually the northwestern part of
Lower Galilee as well, corresponding more or less to Acre sub district
or the Northern District.
Galilee Panhandle" (Hebrew: אצבע הגליל, Etzba
HaGalil, lit. "Finger of Galilee") is a panhandle along the Hulah
Valley; it contains the towns of
Metulla and Qiryat Shemona, and the
Panorama from Ari Mountain in the Upper Galilee
Panorama of the Harod Valley, the eastern extension of the Jezreel
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Galilee.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Galilee.
Northern District (Israel)
^ Room, Adrian, 2nd Ed. (2006) p. 138.
^ "Map of the Twelve Tribes of
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jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
^ Gen. 49:16 earliest reference among others
^ History of Phoenicia, by George Rawlinson 1889, "
Phoenicia under the
hegemony of Tyre (B.C. 1252–877)"
^ Mark 14:28 and 16:7
^ Mishnah Ta'anit 3:8 is one example in it Honi prays for rain,
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Jewish agricultural community, and receiving rain  for the original
Hebrew of one version of that story. Honi does other
miracles for the people of the
Galilee elsewhere in
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Israel (PDF) (Report). Retrieved
^ "In Galilee, Israeli Arabs finding greener grass in
Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Nov 3, 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (2013). "Sources of Population
Growth, by District, Population Group and Religion". Statistical
Israel (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 2014-06-16.
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (2002). The
Arab Population in
Israel (PDF) (Report). Statistilite. 27. sec. 23. Retrieved
^ "30 settlements planned for Negev and Galilee". 2003-08-08.
^ Ofer Petersburg (December 12, 2007). "
Jewish population in Galilee
declining". Ynet. Archived from the original on December 9, 2012.
^ "Haredim 'taking over'".
Israel Business, ynetnews.com. Retrieved
^ Daniel Estrin, Canadian Press (April 15, 2011). "
hiking trail in
Galilee for Christian pilgrims". Yahoo! News. Archived
from the original on 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
^ "Acco Festival". accofestival.co.il. Archived from the original on
2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
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Northern District of Israel
Kaukab Abu al-Hija
Beit She'an Valley
Valley (Emek HaYarden)
Coordinates: 32°46′N 35°32′E / 32.76°N 35.53°E