Matthew 4.12 cont.
12 Now hearing that John had been arrested He (Jesus) returned to Galilee.
It will be interesting for us to give a little time to look at Galilee.
The name means a circuit. Its’ full title was: Galilee of the Gentiles. It was originally given to Hiram of Tyre, by Solomon:
King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and juniper and gold he wanted – 1 Kings 9.11 (NIV).
In the division of the Promised land the tribes of Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulon were given the area of Galilee. However, they failed to completely remove the existing people, the Canaanites, from the land. Therefore, the people of Galilee were never truly, solely pure Israelites.
It had a troubled history; many of its’ inhabitants were taken captive and transported to Assyria, being replaced by native Assyrians. This introduced more foreign blood and influence into Galilee.
These influences continued after God miraculously brought the Jews back from their exile in Assyria.
The area of Galilee was not very large, but it was one of three districts of Palestine; the other two being Judea and Samaria. Galilee was the most northern of these districts.
W Barclay tells us that its’ size was approximately 25 miles from east to west and 15 miles from north to south.
Galilee is in the north of Palestine: it did not quite reach the Mediterranean in the west, because the Phoenicians ruled that strip of land. On the north it was bordered by Syria; and on the west by the river Jordan; and on the south by the plane of Esdraelon.
The great trade routes from north to south, and east to west passed through Galilee. Therefore, it was a strategic place, which was open to the foreign influences of traders. It was also open to military conquests.
It is said that there were 204 towns/cities in Galilee; the smallest having a population of 15,000. It was a fertile area, making agriculture its’ main industry, although there was also fishing and other manufacturing industries.
It was from Galilee that the Maccabean brothers launched their revolt against the Greek occupying forces, and defeated them (167-160 BC).