Circuit. 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" (q.v.). The Jews called it Galil. It continued long to be occupied by the original inhabitants, and hence came to be called "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15), and also "Upper Galilee," to distinguish it from the extensive addition afterwards made to it toward the south, which was usually called "Lower Galilee." In the time of our Lord, Galilee embraced more than one-third of Western Palestine, 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 Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west." Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprehended the whole northern section of the country (Acts 9:31), 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 our Lord during at least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord's public ministry in this province. "The entire province is encircled with a halo of holy associations connected with the life, works, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth." "It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two beautiful parables, no less than ninteen were spoken in Galilee. And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three great miracles, twenty-five were wrought in this province. His first miracle was wrought at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee's sea. In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on The Mount, and the discourses on `The Bread of Life,' on `Purity,' on 'Forgiveness,' and on `Humility.' In Galilee he called his first disciples; and there occurred the sublime scene of the Transfiguration" (Porter's Through Samaria).
When the Sanhedrin were about to proceed with some plan for the condemnation of our Lord (John 7:45-52), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Comp. Deuteronomy 1:16, 17; 17:8.) They replied, "Art thou also of Galilee?.... Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." This saying of theirs was "not historically true, for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee, Jonah of Gath-hepher, and the greatest of all the prophets, Elijah of Thisbe, and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy" (Alford, Com.).
The Galilean accent differed from that of Jerusalem in being broader and more guttural (Mark 14:70).
Galilee, Sea of
(Matthew 4:18; 15:29), is mentioned in the Bible under three other names.
(1.) In the Old Testament it is called the "sea of Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3; 13:27), as is supposed from its harp-like shape. (2). The "lake of Gennesareth" once by Luke (5:1), from the flat district lying on its west coast.
(3.) John (6:1; 21:1) calls it the "sea of Tiberias" (q.v.). The modern Arabs retain this name, Bahr Tabariyeh.
This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet. The Jordan enters it 10 1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the Mediterranean, and about 60 miles north-east of Jerusalem. It is of an oval shape, and abounds in fish.
Its present appearance is thus described: "The utter loneliness and absolute stillness of the scene are exceedingly impressive. It seems as if all nature had gone to rest, languishing under the scorching heat. How different it was in the days of our Lord! Then all was life and bustle along the shores; the cities and villages that thickly studded them resounded with the hum of a busy population; while from hill-side and corn-field came the cheerful cry of shepherd and ploughman. The lake, too, was dotted with dark fishing-boats and spangled with white sails. Now a mournful, solitary silence reigns over sea and shore. The cities are in ruins!"
This sea is chiefly of interest as associated with the public ministry of our Lord. Capernaum, "his own city" (Matthew 9:1), stood on its shores. From among the fishermen who plied their calling on its waters he chose Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and John, to be disciples, and sent them forth to be "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18, 22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5: 1-11). He stilled its tempest, saying to the storm that swept over it, "Peace, be still" (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 7:31-35); and here also he showed himself after his resurrection to his disciples (John 21).
"The Sea of Galilee is indeed the cradle of the gospel. The subterranean fires of nature prepared a lake basin, through which a river afterwards ran, keeping its waters always fresh. In this basin a vast quantity of shell-fish swarmed, and multiplied to such an extent that they formed the food of an extraordinary profusion of fish. The great variety and abundance of the fish in the lake attracted to its shores a larger and more varied population than existed elsewhere in Palestine, whereby this secluded district was brought into contact with all parts of the world. And this large and varied population, with access to all nations and countries, attracted the Lord Jesus, and induced him to make this spot the centre of his public ministry."