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Galilee is in the Northern Israel where Jesus did most of his public ministry. It included Nazareth, Capernaum, and Tiberias. Though Jesus was popularly known as Jesus of Nazareth, people also saw him as a Galilean (Lk 23:6). Galilee’s name is also associated with the Sea of Galilee.


The name Galilee derived from the Hebrew word “galil” that means circle. The full name was the Galilee of the Gentiles. Galilee was, in fact, circled by gentiles. Phoenicians on the west, Syrians on the north and east, and Samaritans on the south were their neighbors. Since the gentiles encircled Galilee, the Jews there were more open to the latest ideas compared to other parts of Palestine.


The Sea of Galilee is not a veritable sea, but a lake. It is also known as the “Sea of Kinneret” (Num 34:11, Deut 3:17, Josh 11:2), the “Lake of Gennesaret” (Lk 5:1), and the “Lake of Tiberius” (Jn 6:1). This pear-shaped lake is only thirteen miles long from north to south and eight miles at the widest part, from east to west. The circumference of the lake is only thirty-three miles, and its maximum depth is 141 feet. It is the lowest freshwater lake on earth and the second lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea. The major source of water to the lake is from the Jordan River, supplemented by springs from the streams and wadis of the hills of Galilee. The water level and the size of the lake have gone down as centuries went by.


Violent storm is possible in the Sea of Galilee because of its low-lying position of seven hundred feet below sea level surrounded by hills. Though the lake is usually calm, sudden and violent storms develop when the ice-cold wind comes over the snow-covered eastern mountains and drops suddenly through a funnel-like narrow mountain valleys onto the warm air of the sea. Jesus and his disciples had such an experience while traveling on a boat in the sea (Mt 8:23-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25; Jn 6:16-21).


Unlike Judean Jews who were conservative, the Galileans were progressive because of their gentile influence. Jesus started his ministry with Galilee and ended in Judea. Out of the twelve apostles, all except Judas Iscariot were Galileans. Jesus got high acceptance in Galilee than in Judea. However, he faced opposition and rejection in Galilee as well. Is the Messiah had positive and negative responses, his followers also should expect the same when working for the kingdom of God.


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