Mark Chancey

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:


Galilee is a region in northern Israel bounded to the south by the Jezreel Valley; to the north by the mountains of Lebanon; to the east by the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights; and to the west by the coastal mountain range. By the Roman period, its northern area was known as Upper Galilee and its southern parts as Lower Galilee. The Hebrew Bible associates it with the areas settled by the tribes of Zebulon, Naphtali, and Asher. After the dissolution of the United Monarchy, it was part of the kingdom of Israel until its conquest by the Assyrians in the 8th century bce. Its population declined due to Assyrian deportations but grew slowly in the following centuries. The Hasmoneans conquered it in the late 2nd or early 1st century bce. It is famous as Jesus’ native region. After the two Jewish Revolts against Rome (66–70 and 132–135 ce), Galilee became the center of Palestine’s Jewish population and the home of the rabbinic movement as Jews moved north from Judea. Within the field of biblical studies, the overwhelming majority of the literature on Galilee has been motivated by interest in the Historical Jesus and early Judaism. For this reason, this article focuses primarily on 1st-century ce Galilee, although it includes some discussion of earlier periods and of early rabbinic Judaism. Major topics of investigation include the ethnic composition of its population, the nature of Galilean Judaism, the economic impact of Roman and Herodian rule, and the extent of Hellenistic and Roman culture. Archaeological excavations in recent decades have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the area, which was previously limited to the information provided by the Jewish historian Josephus, rabbinic sources, and the New Testament.

Article.  6827 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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