Galilee refers to both a region and a sea in the northern part of Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is a fresh-water lake in northern Israel. It's 13-miles long and about 8 miles across at its widest point. The lake is 640 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains about 1500-feet high. Its maximum depth is 150 feet. The Jordan River feeds it from the north. It then continues south to the Dead Sea. The area around the lake is a paradise of trees, grass fields and fertile soil. The lake itself is well stocked with fish.
Jesus preached along its shores and called James, John, Peter and Andrew to be his disciples, to be "fishers of men." He performed many miracles here, such as the calming of the stormy sea, walking on water, and feeding the 5000 (see our Miracles of Jesus page).
Today there are churches built on or near these areas, including the Church of the Loaves and Fishes and the Church of the Beatitudes. There have been many excavations around the lake, which have revealed the splendor and prosperity of the region during past ages.
The region is sometimes called the district of Galilee or the province of Galilee. The region includes the towns of Nazareth and Cana, as well as the Sea of Galilee.
It is bordered by the Jezrel Valley on the south, Lebanon on the north, the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River on the east, and the Plain of Acre on the west.
For a long time, it was populated by the tribes of Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun and Issachar. Later it was part of territory ruled over by Herod the Great, who had been appointed "king" by the Romans to rule over the Jewish people. His son, Herod Antipas, later established the city of Tiberias, which became the capitol of Galilee.
The childhood and early ministry of Jesus took place in Galilee. He lived in Nazareth and Capernaum and performed his first miracle in Cana.
Many of Jesus' disciples came from Galilee. The Sermon on the Mount and the feeding of the 5000 took place there.
Galilee is the highest and coolest area in Israel. It is well watered, green and has many springs. A valley divides the area in half, the upper half rises 3000 feet above sea level, and the lower half has rich soil for agriculture.
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