GALILEE (Heb. הַגָּלִיל, Ha-Galil), the northernmost region of Ereẓ Israel.
The name Galilee is derived from the Hebrew galil which comes from the root גלל ("to roll"), and thus means a circle. It appears in the Bible in the combination Gelil ha-Goyim "Galilee of the nations" (Isa. 8:23), a formula repeated in I Maccabees 5:15. The town of Kedesh (see *Kadesh) is mentioned several times with the addition "in Galilee" (Josh. 20:7; 21:32; I Chron. 6:61); in I Kings 9:11 the 20 cities Solomon gave to *Hiram of Tyre (in the region of Cabul) are defined as being "in the land of Galilee." In the *Zeno papyri (259 B.C.E.) the name appears as Galila. The form Galilee as the name of the northernmost region of Ereẓ Israel west of the Jordan is firmly established in the writings of *Josephus, the New Testament, and talmudic literature.
In prehistoric times the eastern part of Galilee was settled by Neanderthal man in the Lower Paleolithic period: remains of human skeletons have been found in the *Arbel and 'Amūd valleys. With the establishment of urban civilization in the Early Canaanite period, cities were founded in the plains surrounding the Galilean mountain massif and in its northern plateau while the wooded core of the country was left unoccupied. Egyptian documents mention only the cities (apart from those in the Jordan Valley and the coastal plain) lying on the branch of the Via Maris (the road leading from Damascus to the sea) which crosses the southeastern corner of Lower Galilee: Shemesh-Adom, Adummim, Anaharath, Hannathon,
The armies of the Pharaohs and of the invading *Hyksos avoided the difficult mountain region as far as possible. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Israelite tribes exploited this situation by infiltrating into the forested hill country before attacking the Canaanite strongholds in the plains (see *Archaeology).
The victories of Joshua at the waters of Merom and of *Deborah at Mt. *Tabor ensured Israelite supremacy over the whole of Galilee. In biblical times Galilee was divided between four tribes: *Asher in the northwest, *Zebulun in the southwest, *Naphtali in most of the eastern half, and *Issachar in part of the southeast (see Twelve *Tribes: Book of *Joshua). By conquering the remaining Canaanite cities in the *Jezreel Valley, David annexed the whole of Galilee to his kingdom. Under *Solomon, Galilee was divided into three districts, each roughly corresponding to a tribal area: the ninth district included Zebulun and probably Asher, the eighth, Naphtali, and the tenth, Issachar. With the division of the monarchy Galilee became part of the northern kingdom of *Israel and was in the forefront of the struggle with Aram-Damascus (see *Aram-Damascus). In 732 B.C.E. *Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, conquered Galilee and turned it into the Assyrian province of Magiddu (*Megiddo). Some of the Israelite inhabitants were deported but the remaining remnant renewed its relations with Jerusalem in the time of Josiah who may have reunited Galilee with his kingdom (see *Ten Lost Tribes). Nothing is known of Galilee under the Babylonians and Persians; it was possibly administered from *Acre or Hazor since Megiddo had lost its importance by this time (see Israel; *History, Second Temple). In the Ptolemaic period some estates in Galilee were held by Greeks; it appears in the Zeno papyri as a supplier of wheat to Tyre. It was part of the eparchy of Samaria in Seleucid times (see *Seleucia); its administrative center was the royal fortress on Mt. Tabor (Itabyrion). According to I Maccabees 5:15 there were Jewish settlements in western Galilee in the confines of Acre-Ptolemais. These were evacuated by Simeon but others remained in eastern Galilee; *Bacchides, the Seleucid general, is reported to have attacked the Jews of Arbel on the Sea of Galilee. Galilee was incorporated into the Hasmonean kingdom by *Judah Aristobulus I (104 B.C.E.). It rapidly became completely Jewish, for only two years later at the beginning of the reign of Alexander *Yannai, its cities could be attacked on a Sabbath for an easy victory. After *Pompey's conquest (63 B.C.E.) Galilee was left to Judea; *Gabinius' attempt to cut it off from Jerusalem by establishing a separate council (synedrion) at *Sepphoris did not succeed. Galilee was then a province (meris), a division established by Alexander Yannai, containing the sub-districts of Sepphoris, Araba, Tarichaea, and Gischala in Upper Galilee. Under Hyrcanus II, *Herod was governor of Galilee for a time; when he became king, Galilee was one of the centers of opposition to his rule and it remained a *Zealot stronghold until the fall of Jerusalem. After Herod's death Galilee was inherited by Herod Antipas, who founded its second largest city – *Tiberias. From Herod *Antipas it passed to *Agrippa I and then to Roman *procurators. In the last years of Nero, Tiberias and its vicinity were granted to *Agrippa II. In 66 C.E. Galilee joined in the Jewish revolt against Rome; it was the home of *John of Giscala, one of the foremost Zealot leaders. The defense of the Galilee was in the hands of the historian Josephus who lost it to Vespasian in 67. The Romans took no measures against the Jews of Galilee, some of whom, especially those of Sepphoris and Tiberias, favored the Roman cause. Under Trajan Tiberias became an autonomous city; Hadrian turned Sepphoris into a Roman city called Diocaesarea but its population remained largely Jewish. Galilee did not take part in the *Bar Kokhba War (132–135; although historians dispute this point); what is certain is that after the expulsion of the Jews from Judea, Galilee was throughout the mishnaic and talmudic periods the stronghold of Judaism in Ereẓ Israel. The activities of *Jesus and the early Christian apostles had no effect on the Jewishness of Galilee. The national authority of the patriarchate was reconstituted there in the second century, and the *Sanhedrin continued to sit in various cities, settling later in Sepphoris and finally in Tiberias. The priestly families which had been dispersed from Judea settled in Galilee. The remains of a score of synagogues and of a central necropolis at *Bet She'arim are material evidence of the prosperity and vitality of Galilean Jewry from the second to the sixth centuries, and the completion of the Mishnah and the Palestinian Talmud, of its spiritual productivity. The establishment of Christianity as the official religion did not at first influence the Jewishness of Galilee even though the Church set up an ecclesiastical hierarchy there and built numerous churches in the sixth century. Galilee was the center of the Jewish revolts against Gallus Caesar (351) and the Byzantines (614). It fell to the Muslim Arabs in 635/6 and became part of the province of al-Ur-dunn (Jordan) with its capital in Tiberias. The Jewish villages continued diminishing but some existed until the time of the *Crusades. Under Crusader rule Galilee was formed into a principality held by the Norman Tancred. It was lost in 1187 after their disastrous defeat at the Horns of Hittin, but part of it was regained in 1198 and all of it in 1240 only to be lost again during the 1260s. Ruins of Crusader castles (at *Miʿilyā, Montfort, etc.) attest to their rule. Under the *Mamluks Galilee was part of the mamlaka ("province") of *Safed; under the Turks it was ruled by the semi-independent pashas of Acre. In the 16th century Safed became the center of Jewish kabbalism and Tiberias was resettled by Don Joseph *Nasi as the center of a proposed Jewish province.
In the second half of the 19th century, Galilee's population increased and, on the whole, progressed, thanks to an extended period of peace. The Jewish community, concentrated mainly in Safed, somewhat improved its standard of living, although it continued to be dependent on *ḥalukkah (donations from the Diaspora). In 1856, Ludwig August *Frankl found 2,100 Jews in Safed, and 50 in *Peki'in, the only other Jewish
The Third, Fourth, and Fifth aliyot, which gave a powerful impulse to Jewish settlement in other regions, hardly touched Galilee, although all around it new Jewish areas were created, in the Jezreel Valley to the south in the 1920s, and in the Zebulun Valley to the southwest in the 1930s. The expansion of the *Stockade and Watchtower network during the 1936–39 Arab riots completed this outer ring, in the Acre Coastal Plain to the northwest, in the Bet Shean Valley to the southeast, and in the Ḥuleh Valley to the northeast. In Galilee proper, only the kibbutz Kefar ha-Ḥoresh was established in 1935 near Nazareth.
It was at the end of the decade that settlement spread into the hills near the Lebanese border in the northwest (*Ḥanitah, *Eilon, *Maẓẓuvah), while *PICA and the JNF, reacting to the British *White Paper of 1939, strengthened the "settlement bridge" in southeastern Lower Galilee connecting the *Jezreel and the *Kinnarot valleys (e.g., the settlements *Sharonah, *Ha-Zore'im, etc.). In the 1940s, several more outpost settlements were set up, some of them at particularly difficult and isolated sites (e.g., *Manara, *Yeḥi'am, *Misgav Am).
The largest part of Galilee, however, continued to be exclusively non-Jewish, causing the UN partition plan of 1947 to allocate to the proposed Arab state the bulk of the area, from the Lebanese border south to, and including, Nazareth and from the shore of the Acre Plain east to the vicinity of Safed; only a strip of eastern and southeastern Galilee was left to the Jewish state. In the War of Independence, the Jewish villages, many of them isolated, held their ground without exception. In battles before the State of Israel was proclaimed (May 14, 1948), new positions were gained and continuous fronts consolidated: the southeastern corner of Lower Galilee was cleared of enemy strongholds; Tiberias and Safed became unexpectedly all-Jewish towns when the Arabs left them; and when on May 12–13, 1948, the Acre Plain was occupied by Jewish forces, direct contact was renewed in western Upper Galilee with the Ḥanitah bloc and Yeḥi'am. In the ten days of fighting between the first and second truces ("Operation Dekel," July 9–18, 1948), western, southern, and more of southeastern Galilee were taken, Arab forces were dislodged from their positions, and *Sepphoris and Nazareth came into Israeli hands. The rest of Galilee, corresponding to the previous British Mandate borders, was brought under Israeli control in "Operation Ḥiram" (Oct. 29–31, 1948); this fact was endorsed in the 1949 Armistice Agreement with Lebanon, in which a strip of territory west of the Naphtali Ridge which Israel had occupied returned to Lebanon.
In contrast with the events in other parts of the country, the movement of Israeli forces in Galilee was followed by only a minor exodus of the Arab population; although a considerable part of the Muslims left, most of the Christians and almost all of the Druze remained. This caused a relative increase of the latter two communities in Galilee's total population, with the following pattern of ethnic distribution thus emerging: Druze inhabit villages in western Upper Galilee, between Acre and Mount Meron, and one village, al-Maghār, further southeast. Around Nazareth in southwestern and central Lower Galilee, there are mostly Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic villages, but also a number of Muslim villages which remained intact. Two villages of the Greek Catholics, Miʿilyā and Fassūṭa, lie in western Upper Galilee, and one of the Maronite faith (Gush Ḥalav = Jish), near the Lebanese border further east. During and immediately after the War of Independence, 12 new kibbutzim were created, not only in the Acre Plain (Sa'ar, *Gesher ha-Ziv, *Kabri, etc.) but also in the hills near the Lebanese border (*Ga'aton, Yiftaḥ, *Sasa, Baram, etc.) and in Lower Galilee (*Lavi, *Ein-Dor, etc.). In the beginning of the 1950s, about 30 moshavim were added, many of them initially in the form of "work villages," the settlers earning their livelihood as hired workers in soil reclamation, afforestation, and other projects until a minimum of land became available for their own farms. This was intended to create more or less continuous chains of Jewish settlements across Galilee from west to east. In the same period many newcomers were absorbed in Tiberias and Safed, but the growth of both towns later slowed down. Two new urban centers were established in southern Galilee – *Migdal ha-Emek in 1952, and Upper Nazareth in 1957. In the northwest, *Ma'alot and *Shelomi were founded as nuclei of development towns, but their progress was far from satisfactory. The new moshavim in the hills also encountered difficulties, as their infrastructure of cultivable land and available water proved too narrow and the choice of farming branches was limited by local conditions.
The northern part of the Galilee area, mainly Kiryat Shmoneh and the rural settlements around it, suffered for years from bombardments by Palestinian organizations operating in Lebanon. These attacks led to Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982, a full-scale invasion of Lebanon culminating in the siege of Beirut and the expulsion of Arafat and the Palestinian terrorists under his command. The IDF fell back to a narrow buffer zone in 1986 and withdrew from Lebanon completely in 2000.
Northern Israel, comprising in addition to the Galilean hill regions areas in the Upper and Central Jordan Valley, in the Jezreel Valley, and in the Acre Plain, increased its population from 53,400 in the 1948 census to 1,111,500 in 2003 (with nearly half Arabs). In Galilee proper (i.e., the natural regions of eastern Upper and Lower Galilee, the Hazor Region, the Nazareth-Tir'an hills, and western Upper and Lower Galilee) the total population was around 400,000.
Maisler, in: BJPES, 11 (1944), 39ff.; Alt, in: PJB, 33 (1937), 52ff.; idem, in: ZDPV, 52 (1929), 220ff.; S. Klein, Ereẓ ha-Galil (1946); Y. Aharoni, Hitnaḥalut Shivtei Yisrael ba-Galil ha-Elyon (1957); Avi-Yonah, Land, index; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), passim; Aharoni, Land, passim; EM, 2 (1965), 506–7; R. Dafni, Galilee (1961).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.