Galilee (Hebrew hagalil הגליל, Arabic al-jaleel الجليل), meaning circuit, is a large area located in what is currently northern Israel (Tzafon ), traditionally divided into three parts:
Galilee embraces more than one-third of present-day Israel, 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 Akko to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west."
The Western Galilee, also called the "Northern Coastal Plain" strays from north of Haifa up to Rosh Hanikra in the border between Israel and Lebanon.
The Lower Galilee strays from Mount Carmel and Gilboa ridge in the south to the Beit HaKerem Valley in the north. Its eastern border is the Jordan River.
The Upper Galilee strays from Beit HaKerem Valley in the south to the Lebanese border in the north. Its eastern border is the Sea of Galilee and the mountains of the Golan Heights. The "Finger of the Galilee" (Etzba ha-Galil) is a region of the upper Galilee and contains the towns Metula and Qiriyat Shemona and the rivers of Dan and Banias.
Most of the Galilee consists of mountainous terrain, at hights of about 500-700 meters. There are serveral high mountain such as Mount Tabor and Mount Meiron . The relatively low tempartures and the large amounts of rain puring every year made the Galilee a center of blossom and wildlife. The streams and waterfalls (mainly in the upper Galilee), along with vast fields of green and colorful flowers made it a popular tourist attraction in Israel.
See also: Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret), Mount Hermon.
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". The Jews called it Galil. During the Hasmonaean period, in the midst of the decline of the Seleucid Empire, the region was taken over by the Jews.
In Roman times, the province of Palestine was divided into three regions, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprised the whole northern section of the country, 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 Jesus during at least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels of the New Testament are chiefly taken up with Jesus' public ministry in this province.
After the Arab caliphate took control of the region in 638, it became part of the jund of Urdunn (Jordan). The Shia Fatimids took the region in the 900s; a breakaway sect, venerating the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, formed the Druze religion, centered in and north of the Galilee.
During the Crusades, Galilee was organized into the Principality of Galilee, one of the most important Crusader seigneuries.
In the early 20th century, the Galilee was inhabited by Arabs, Druzes and minorities such as Circassians and Jews. The Jewish population was increased significantly by Zionist immigration.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war the entire Galilee came under Israel's control. A large portion of the population fled, leaving entire villages empty; however, more Palestinians remained than in most areas, due especially to a successful rapprochement with the Druze. The kibbutzim around the Sea of Galilee were sometimes shelled by the Syrian army 's artillery. The shelling stopped after Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967.
During the 1970's and the early 1980's, the PLO sometimes launched attacks on towns of the Upper 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 protects the citizens of the Upper Galilee. Israel remained in occupation of most of Southern Lebanon up to 1985; on 1985 Israel withdraw to a narrow security "buffer zone" called "Retzuat ha-Bitachon". Up to 2000, Hizbullah (and earlier Amal) continued to fight the Israeli Defence Forces, sometimes shelling Upper Galilee communities and towns with Katyusha rockets). On 2000 Israeli prime-minister Ehud Barak unilaterally withdrew entirely from south Lebanon and deployed Israel on 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. Hizbullah claims that a place on the border of the Golan Heights and Lebanon called the Shebaa Farms is Israeli-occupied Lebanon. Israel and the UN claim that the Shebaa Farms are part of the Syrian Golan Heights.
Modern Galilee is one of the few areas of Israel to have retained a large Arab population after 1948, and has a particularly large number of Druze. The "heart of the Galilee" - the districts of Carmel, Upper Nazareth, Ma'alot, Migdal Ha'emek and Afula - has an Arab majority of 78%, despite Jewish Agency efforts to change the demographic balance.
Its main cities are Akko (Acre), Nazareth, Safed (Tzfat), Afula, Qiryat Shemona and Tiberias. The city of Haifa, although outside the Galilee is serving as an administrational and commercial center for the Galilee.
Because of its mountainous terrain most of the settlements in the Galilee are small villages. The main industries of those villages are agriculture and tourism. Many families run a "Zimmer" (popular name for B&B in Israel) for rent.
- Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897. Please update as needed