As far as I was aware, the Galilee isn't considered a significant region of Israel in the Tanach. But when we get to the Mishna, the Galilee is mentioned everywhere. For example, https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Bava_Batra.3.2?with=all&lang=bi

When did northern Israel start being known as the Galilee and how did it end up overshadowing all other regions of Israel in importance, possibly even Judea?

  • הַגָּלִֽיל is mentioned only once as far as I can see in 1 Melachim 9:11 "King Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty towns in the region of Galilee". The Mishnah mentions the Upper Galilee, the Lower Galilee and the valley (Sheviit 9:2).
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:52
  • See also: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/78006/…
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:53
  • 1
    The Galilee became more and more significant as more Jews began settling there in the time of the Second Temple. After the destruction, a gradual process led to the vast majority of Jews resettling there over a period of about 80 years. Hence, the importance of the Galilee.
    – Harel13
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 20:23
  • From where do you learn that galilee overshadowed other regions in judea in importance?
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:11
  • @ezra: I found this supporting the explanation that The Galilee became more significant: "Only in later years, during the times of the second temple, did Jewish settlements begin to extend into Galilee as the density of the population in the rest of the land increased" (see: sefaria.org/…) written by Gershom Bader.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


Where is גָּלִ֚יל Galilee in Tanakh?

Galilee was the-region (הַגְּלִילָה) or land in upper Kedesh (cohabited by the tribe of Naphtali & Canaanites), alluded to in [Yehoshua 20:7] , [Yehoshua 21:32] & [Shoftim 1:33].

The prophet Isaiah tells us "Galil" was the Attraction of the nations in [Yeshayahu 8:23] - to which Rashi comments : "the attraction of the nations Heb. (גְּלִיל הַגּוֹיִם). That is the entire land of Israel, which would roll (גּוֹלֶלֶת) to it all the nations, for all longed for it and came to it for commerce, like the matter that is stated (Jer. 3:19)".

  • Written גָּלִיל as in [Yehoshua 20:7]
"And they set apart Kedesh in [Galilee] > Mount Naphtali, and Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah." (וַיַּקְדִּ֜שׁוּ אֶת־קֶ֚דֶשׁ בַּגָּלִיל֙ בְּהַ֣ר נַפְתָּלִ֔י וְאֶת־שְׁכֶ֖ם בְּהַ֣ר אֶפְרָ֑יִם וְאֶת־קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥יא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּהַ֥ר יְהוּדָֽה)
  • Written as גָּלִ֚יל in [Yehoshua 21:32]
"And from the tribe of Naphtali, the city of refuge of the slayer, Kedesh in [Galilee] and the open land around it, and Hamoth-dor with the open land around it, and Kartan with the open land around it, three cities." (וּמִמַּטֵּ֨ה נַפְתָּלִ֜י אֶת־עִ֣יר | מִקְלַ֣ט הָֽרֹצֵ֗חַ אֶת־קֶ֨דֶשׁ בַּגָּלִ֚יל וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֙הָ֙ וְאֶת־חַמֹּ֥ת דֹּאר֙ וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֔הָ וְאֶת־קַרְתָּ֖ן וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֑הָ עָרִ֖ים שָׁלֽשׁ)
  • Described in [Shoftim 1:33]
"Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-Anath; and he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh and of Beth-Anath became tributary to them." (נַפְתָּלִ֗י לֹֽא־הוֹרִ֞ישׁ אֶת־יֹשְׁבֵ֚י בֵֽית־שֶׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ וְאֶת־ישְׁבֵ֣י בֵית־עֲנָ֔ת וַיֵּ֕שֶׁב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֖י יֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָאָ֑רֶץ וְיֹשְׁבֵ֚י בֵֽית־שֶׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ וּבֵ֣ית עֲנָ֔ת הָי֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם לָמַֽס)
  • Written as גְּלִ֖יל in [Yeshayahu 8:23]
"For there is no weariness to the one who oppresses her; like the first time, he dealt mildly, [exiling only] the land of Zebulun and the land of Naftali, and the last one he dealt harshly, the way of the sea, and the other side of the Jordan, the attraction of the nations." (כִּ֣י לֹ֣א מוּעָף֘ לַֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר מוּצָ֣ק לָהּ֒ כָּעֵ֣ת הָֽרִאשׁ֗וֹן הֵקַ֞ל אַ֚רְצָה זְבֻלוּן֙ וְאַ֣רְצָה נַפְתָּלִ֔י וְהָאַֽחֲר֖וֹן הִכְבִּ֑יד דֶּ֚רֶךְ הַיָּם֙ עֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן גְּלִ֖יל הַגּוֹיִֽם)
  • So the name existed back then too. Is there any way of knowing the size of the region it referred to? How likely is it that a region the size of modern galilee would be mentioned only 2 times in Tanach (including Melachim 9, not including Yeshayahu, and twice within a single context in Yehoshua)?
    – Leiby
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 23:59
  • It’s worth noting that the sea of galilee is called yam kineret like in numbers 34:11
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:09
  • @Leiby we should first consider what the significance of mentioning a region in Tanach is. Areas within the Galilee are named all over Tanach. What is the importance of mentioning the region as a whole?
    – Harel13
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 20:06

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