Who Were the Galileans in the Days of Jesus?

by | Nov 4, 2009 | Israel & Jewish Roots, Standing With Israel

Jesus was a Galilean. That much we know. The question of who exactly the Galileans were during biblical times is a much more complicated matter. The origins and identity of the people dwelling in this northernmost part of Israel at the time of the Second Temple remains an unsolved and fascinating riddle of history—made even more interesting by the fact that the Galilee was the venue for most of Jesus’ ministry.

Easton’s Biblical Dictionary tells us: 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 (see 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 30 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 32 beautiful parables, no less than 19 were spoken in Galilee. And it is no less remarkable that of his entire 33 great miracles, 25 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.

Among the most interesting debates in the field of biblical studies is the question of who-or rather, of what-those disciples were. That the debate continues with undiminished interest is due to the fact that the more we look into the background and nature of Jesus’ Galileans, the less we can say about them with absolute certainty.

One major question is exactly how “Jewish” the Jews of Galilee really were in the Post-Exile period. For most laymen, the question itself is somewhat surprising. They would ask, “Hasn’t Galilee been Jewish since the Twelve Tribes conquered Israel in the 13 century BCE?” The best answer to this question is, yes and no.

The problem can be traced back to historical developments in Ancient Israel, long before the time of Jesus. The tribes of Zebulon, Naphtali, Issachar and Asher settled Galilee. The region later belonged to David’s kingdom and then to the northern nation of Israel. The situation was straightforward enough until the Assyrians under Emperor Tiglath-Pileser III conquered Israel in 733 BCE, and obliterated the kingdom entirely under his successor Shalmaneser V in 722.

Most historians believe that the victorious Assyrians, as was their custom, evacuated and relocated the entire population out of the Galilee and replaced them with other peoples from their far-flung empire.

Out of Jewish sovereignty for the next 600 years, the Galilee returned to Jewish political control when the Hasmonean rulers conquered the region and added it to their short-lived kingdom—along with Idumea, the ancient kingdom of Edom, east of the Dead Sea.

One school of scholarship says that John Hyrcanus forced the Gentile Galileans and Idumeans to convert to Judaism more or less at sword-point, marking the one and only forced mass conversion to Judaism’s in its 4,000-year history. Thus, in Jesus’ time, the Galilee contained many Jews whose ancestors had only been Jewish for about a century.

Another school of thought, however, says that when the Assyrians conquered Israel and evacuated the Galilee, they left the land virtually empty. Says Religion Today contributor Paul Flesher: “At this moment, Galilee drops out of history for the next 600 years. To be sure, 2 Kings 17 tells of the resettlement of Samaria, but Galilee is not mentioned.”

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Why God Will Sometimes Hesitate to Give Your Mountain

Why God Will Sometimes Hesitate to Give Your Mountain

Recently, I was having a discussion over coffee with a group of friends when one of them asked the question: “Can you believe how much the world has changed in what seems to be a very short time?” My answer was: “Yes. Yes, I have no problem believing how much the...

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

If a person were to ask, “Why speak in tongues?” couldn’t we also ask, “Why pray?” The Word of God shows a definite value in praying with an unknown tongue. Jesus tells us that “it is necessary always to pray” (Luke 18:1, MEV). Later, in speaking of prayer, Paul...

What ‘The Jetsons’ and Cindy Jacobs Prophetically Got Right

What ‘The Jetsons’ and Cindy Jacobs Prophetically Got Right

Just as the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons depicted a future full of video phones, robotics and Google-style office space, some modern-day prophets have prophesied about a future full of exposing corruption, fighting for individual freedom and shining a light on truth. One...

The Blueprints for Building a Powerful and Abundant Life for Jesus

The Blueprints for Building a Powerful and Abundant Life for Jesus

Have you ever seen blueprints? If not, blueprints are detailed drawings, containing specifications approved by the builder of a home. A blueprint fully outlines the quality of the materials needed to build a stable and trustworthy home. For a Christian, the Bible is...

9 Reasons Why God Never Tries to Prove His Existence

9 Reasons Why God Never Tries to Prove His Existence

God is self-authenticating. He never tries to prove His existence because it is already evident through the created order. Since He is the only objective being, all other living and nonliving objects emanate from His creative fiat word hence all reasoning (different...

How Prophetic Evangelism Is Impacting Change in Today’s Culture

How Prophetic Evangelism Is Impacting Change in Today’s Culture

Dr. Candice Smithyman, host of Manifest His Presence on the Charisma Podcast Network, recently interviewed apostle Stacey Campbell, founder of Shiloh Global about how prophecy can impact today’s culture. Apostle Campbell is passionate about teaching young people and...

RECENT ARTICLES

Joyce Meyer’s Daughter: ‘I Tried Until I Almost Died!’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc14ip0XyOw Growing up as the daughter of Dave and Joyce Meyer, Sandra McCollom knew about God’s goodness and unconditional love. “At eight years old, I remember...
Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

In the journey of hearing God's voice today effectively and accurately, you need the practical and personal work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus clearly told his followers that those who hear His words and put them into practice are wise! "Whoever hears these sayings of...

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Recently as I was worshipping the Lord, I went into a vision where I could see I was in a dark and very deep valley. It was nighttime, and the valley was surrounded by tall mountains. On the top of each I could see the outlines of men and instinctively knew they were...

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Do you think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The truth is that God is the same throughout the entire Bible. His wrath and His love are revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. So why, then, did...

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

Your heart is the most important part of you. It’s not only a physical organ that keeps your blood pumping, but when the Bible refers to the heart, it’s talking about who you really are. Each person has an inner and an outer life. There’s the person we show to...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]