Galileans (or Galilæans) were members of a fanatical sect (Zealots), followers of Judas of Galilee, who fiercely resented the taxation of the Romans, and whose violence contributed to induce the latter to vow the extermination of the whole race.

More generically, a Galilean is an inhabitant of Galilee.

"Galilean", as an adjective, describes some aspects of mathematics or astronomy associated with Galileo: see for example Galilean moons and Galilean transformation.

When the United Kingdom was divided during the reign of Rehoboam, Galilee became a part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Southern Kingdom was Judah, which continued to be ruled by the descendants of David. The Northern Kingdom, under Jeroboam and subsequent ungodly kings, turned to false worship. Israel did not do much better, although some of her kings were godly men. When both kingdoms became corrupt, God began to warn of a coming day of judgment, a day when God would use the Assyrians as His instrument of judgment, carrying the people of the Northern Kingdom into captivity. The Assyrians would threaten Judah and Jerusalem but would not succeed in sacking that city.

Galilee was not considered a place of status. As Frederick Bruner put it,

Galilee is a strange place for a Messiah to work. There is no early rabbinic reference to the Messiah’s appearing or working in Galilee. Galilee was not just geographically far from Jerusalem; it was considered spiritually and politically far, too. Galilee was the most pagan of the Jewish provinces, located as it was at the northernmost tier of Palestine. This distance from Zion was not only geographic; Galileans were considered by Judaeans to sit rather loosely to the law and to be less biblically pure than those in or near Jerusalem. Finally, Galilee was notorious for being the nest of revolution and the haunt of Zealot revolutionary movements. Just a few years before Jesus’ birth, Sephoris, capital city of Galilee, had been led in revolt by Judas of Galilee against the Roman government and had brought Galilee into defeat and many of the people of God into shame.

The Galilee up until the time of Jesus

After some early expeditions to Galilee to save the Jews there from attack, the Hasmonean rulers conquered Galilee and added it to their kingdom. They also conquered Idumea, the ancient kingdom of Edom east of the Dead Sea. John Hyrcanus forced the Gentile Galileans and Idumeans to convert to Judaism-the only forcible mass conversion in the history of Judaism. In the time of Jesus Galilee contained many Jews whose ancestors had only been Jewish for about a century.

It does not seem that the Galileans and Idumeans resisted their conversion. During the Great Rebellion (66-70 CE) the Galileans and Idumeans were the most adamant fighters against Rome. They fought the Romans to the death when many Judeans were ready to accept peace terms.

The Galileans were fiercly loyal to Judaism. They undoubtedly were meticulous in fulfilling the essential demands of Judaism, such as Sabbath observance. The Pharisaic scholars of Judaism, centered in Jerusalem and Judea, found the Galileans to be insufficiently concerned about the details of Jewish observance-for example, the rules of Sabbath rest. The Talmud says that Yohanan ben Zakkai, a great Pharisee of the first century, was assigned to a post in Galilee during his training. In eighteen years he was asked only two questions of Jewish law, causing him to lament "O Galilee, O Galilee, in the end you shall be filled with wrongdoers!" (Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 16:7, 15d). The Pharisaic criticism of Galileans is mirrored in the New Testament, in which Galilean religious passion is compared favorably against the minute concerns of Judean legal scholars. This was the heart of a friendly "crosstown" rivalry existing between Galilean Zealots and Judean Pharisees.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Galilean — Gal i*le an, a. Of or pertaining to Galileo; as, the Galilean telescope. See {Telescope}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Galilean — Galilean1 [gal΄ə lē′ən] adj. of Galilee or its people or culture n. 1. a person born or living in Galilee 2. Archaic a Christian the Galilean Jesus Galilean2 [gal΄ə lē′ən] adj. of Galileo …   English World dictionary

  • Galilean — Gal i*le an, a. [L. Galilaeus, fr. Galilaea Galilee, Gr. ?: cf. F. galil[ e]en.] Of or relating to Galilee. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Galilean — Gal i*le an, n. 1. A native or inhabitant of Galilee, the northern province of Palestine under the Romans. [1913 Webster] 2. (Jewish Hist.) One of the party among the Jews, who opposed the payment of tribute to the Romans; called also {Gaulonite} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • galilean — galileán s. m. (sil. le an), pl. galileéni (sil. le eni) Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic …   Dicționar Român

  • Galilean — I noun 1. an inhabitant of Galilee (an epithet of Jesus Christ) • Syn: ↑Galilaean • Derivationally related forms: ↑Galilaean (for: ↑Galilaean) • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Galilean — adjective Date: circa 1751 of, relating to, or discovered by Galileo Galilei < Galilean satellites > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Galilean — /gal euh lee euhn/, adj. 1. of or pertaining to Galilee. n. 2. a native or inhabitant of Galilee. 3. a Christian. 4. the Galilean, Jesus. [1605 15; < L Galilae(a) GALILEE + AN] /gal euh lay euhn, lee /, adj. of or pertaining to Galileo, his… …   Universalium

  • Galilean —    An inhabitant or native of Galilee. This word was used as a name of contempt as applied to our Lord s disciples (Luke 22:59; Acts 2:7). All the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:11), were Galileans. Peter was detected by… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Galilean — I Gal•i•le•an [[t]ˌgæl əˈli ən[/t]] adj. 1) of or pertaining to Galilee 2) a native or inhabitant of Galilee 3) rel a Christian 4) rel the Galilean, Jesus • Etymology: 1605–15; < L Galilae(a) Galilee+ an I II Gal•i•le•an [[t]ˌgæl əˈleɪ ən, ˈli …   From formal English to slang

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