The Galil is a portion of Eretz Yisrael mentioned often in Chazal (Mishnayos, Tosefta, Bavli, Yerushalmi.) It's generally referring to the "northern" part of Eretz Yisrael. We even see in the Mishnayos in Shvi'is Chapter 9 Mishnah 2 that the Galil is broken into 2 parts (Galil Tachton and Galil Elyon.)

Today this term is also used to describe the northern part of Israel and even has a defined area. Do we know if this is the same location that Chazal spoke about? Are there any other proofs from Chazal that help us to understand where the Galil (both the bottom part and top part) begins and ends?

  • Is this on topic?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 5, 2016 at 0:41
  • 3
    @mevaqesh why do you think it's off topic?
    – Yehoshua
    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:16
  • It is about the identity of a geographic location mentioned in a Jewish text. One could claim that this is not the same as a question about Judaism.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:17
  • 2
    @mevaqesh Chazal go out of their way to mention the location and that it's split into 2 parts I'm just trying to understand where that is exactly. I guess you should remove the geography tag then...
    – Yehoshua
    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:18
  • The Jewish text in question does indeed reference the location, and its subdivisions. I am not sure what that has to do with my previous comment, or with the geography tag.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


The answer is hinged on certain beliefs that must be taken for granted as factual. Meaning to say, that if there are sources in Chazal, they can only be as exact as other geographical locations being used as reference points. This of course excludes topographical reference points, which probably cannot be disputed.

Additionally, the source you quoted does address the its borders; "from Kfar Chananya and above - all [of the land] that does not grow sycamores - is the upper Galilee; from Kfar Chananya and below - all [of the land] that does grow sycamores - is the lower Galilee".


The modern-day Kfar Chananya is said to be not far from that of the one recalled in the Mishnah.


According to Jewish encyclopedia and Steinsaltz, Gitin 76a(2), Kfar Utnai was the bottom of the Galil. Steinsaltz also ideintifies it only several kilometers from the modern-day Ein Ganim. (See Steinsaltz for map, too.)

Quotations that reference the Galil as having certain qualities, such as the production of olives and olive oil, also confirm modern identifications.

Yerushalmi, Shabbat 16.8:

גליל גליל שנאת התורה סופך לעשות במסיקין

In modern-day old-city Tzfat, there is a sign on a wine shop which quotes this Zohar, indicating that the upper Galil is potentially at least by Tzfat.

וְאָמַר רִבִּי יִצְחָק, לֵית לָךְ חֲמַר דְּאִתְקְרֵי חֲמַר טוֹב, כְּחַמְרָא דְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְיַתִּיר עַל כָּלְהוֹן, חַמְרָא דִּגְלִילָא עִילָּאָה.

Rabbi Yitzchak says: Israel has the best wine, and the best wine in Israel is in the upper-Galil.

Questions like this are even further reaching when we think of identifying the tribal portions of Israel. According to the nach, Galil is in the portion of Naphtali. And so, if we think we can identify the location of Naphtali's portion, we should also know, roughly, that of the Galil. Here is an old map. And here a new one.

Yehoshua 21:32

וּמִמַּטֵּ֨ה נַפְתָּלִ֜י אֶת־עִ֣יר ׀ מִקְלַ֣ט הָֽרֹצֵ֗חַ אֶת־קֶ֨דֶשׁ בַּגָּלִ֤יל וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֙הָ֙ וְאֶת־חַמֹּ֥ת דֹּאר֙ וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֔הָ וְאֶת־קַרְתָּ֖ן וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֑הָ עָרִ֖ים שָׁלֹֽשׁ׃

From the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee—the city of refuge for manslayers—with its pastures, Hammoth-dor with its pastures, and Kartan with its pastures—3 towns.

In Wars chapter 3, there is a description of the area. Although not a Chazalic source per se, it is potentially of value, considering the time of its writing.

  1. Now Phoenicia and Syria encompass about the Galilees, which are two, and called the Upper Galilee and the Lower. They are bounded toward the sun-setting, with the borders of the territory belonging to Ptolemais, and by Carmel; which mountain had formerly belonged to the Galileans, but now belonged to the Tyrians; to which mountain adjoins Gaba, which is called the City of Horsemen, because those horsemen that were dismissed by Herod the king dwelt therein; they are bounded on the south with Samaria and Scythopolis, as far as the river Jordan; on the east with Hippeae and Gadaris, and also with Ganlonitis, and the borders of the kingdom of Agrippa; its northern parts are hounded by Tyre, and the country of the Tyrians. As for that Galilee which is called the Lower, it, extends in length from Tiberias to Zabulon, and of the maritime places Ptolemais is its neighbor; its breadth is from the village called Xaloth, which lies in the great plain, as far as Bersabe, from which beginning also is taken the breadth of the Upper Galilee, as far as the village Baca, which divides the land of the Tyrians from it; its length is also from Meloth to Thella, a village near to Jordan.

The second Mishnah in Gittin states that the city of Acco was the northern border of the land of Israel in second Temple times. In fact, only part of the city was inside the borders (according to Tosfos). This shows that the Galil of ancient times is not the same borders as today.

רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, מֵרֶקֶם לַמִּזְרָח, וְרֶקֶם כַּמִּזְרָח. מֵאַשְׁקְלוֹן לַדָּרוֹם, וְאַשְׁקְלוֹן כַּדָּרוֹם. מֵעַכּוֹ לַצָּפוֹן, וְעַכּוֹ כַּצָּפוֹן. רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, עַכּוֹ כְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל לַגִּטִּין:

Rabbi Yehudah says, "From Rekem to the East and Rekem is like the East; from Ashkelon to the South and Ashkelon is like the South; from Acco to the North and Acco is like the North." Rabbi Meir says, "Acco is like Eretz Yisrael with regard to bills of divorce."

  • Akko being half-in-half-out is according to Tosfos. I don’t know of anyone who argues, but it might be worthwhile to edit that in.
    – DonielF
    Jan 21, 2019 at 21:51
  • Steviit 9.ט,ב שלוש ארצות לביעור--יהודה, ועבר הירדן, והגליל; ושלוש שלוש ארצות לכל אחת ואחת. גליל העליון, וגליל התחתון, והעמק: מכפר חנניה ולמעלה, כל שאינו מגדל שקמים--גליל העליון; ומכפר חנניה ולמטן, כל שהוא מגדל שקמים--גליל התחתון; ותחום טבריה, העמק. וביהודה, ההר והשפילה והעמק. ושפילת לוד כשפילת הדרום, וההר שלה כהר המלך. ומבית חורון ועד הים, מדינה אחת.
    – kouty
    Jan 22, 2019 at 19:26

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