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Notes on Bible Places from your weekly Bible study
compiled by Mark Mohlenbrock

An overview of the geographical places mentioned in the Bible from your weekly Bible study. Main entries are from [E] M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897 [S] Smith's Bible Dictionary which has been used by students of the Bible since it's introduction in the 1860's and [H] Holman Bible Dictionary published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. Other references and links are noted.

God the Preserver of Man: December 10 - 16, 2018


[E] A city of Asia Minor on the coast of Mysia, which in early times was called AEolis. The ship in which Paul embarked at Caesarea belonged to this city (Acts 27:2). He was conveyed in it only to Myra, in Lycia, whence he sailed in an Alexandrian ship to Italy. It was a rare thing for a ship to sail from any port of Palestine direct for Italy. It still bears the name Adramyti, and is a place of some traffic.

[S] named form Adramys , brother of Croesus king of Lydia, a seaport in the province of Asia [ASIA], situated on a bay of the Aegean Sea, about 70 miles north of Smyrna, in the district anciently called Aeolis, and also Mysia. See (Acts 16:7) [MITYLENE] (Acts 27:2) The modern Adramyti is a poor village.

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[E] now called Candia, one of the largest islands in the Meditterranean, about 140 miles long and 35 broad. It was at one time a very prosperous and populous island, having a "hundred cities." The character of the people is described in Paul's quotation from "one of their own poets" (Epimenides) in his epistle to Titus: "The Cretans are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies" (Titus 1:12). Jews from Crete were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11). The island was visited by Paul on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27). Here Paul subsequently left (Titus 1:5) "to ordain elders." Some have supposed that it was the original home of the Caphtorim (q.v.) or Philistines.

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[Easton] circuit. Solomon rewarded Hiram for certain services rendered him by the gift of an upland plain among the mountains of Naphtali. Hiram was dissatisfied with the gift, and called it "the land of Cabul" (q.v.). The Jews called it Galil. It continued long to be occupied by the original inhabitants, and hence came to be called "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15), and also "Upper Galilee," to distinguish it from the extensive addition afterwards made to it toward the south, which was usually called "Lower Galilee." In the time of our Lord, Galilee embraced more than one-third of Western Palestine, extending "from Dan on the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, to the ridges of Carmel and Gilboa on the south, and from the Jordan valley on the east away across the splendid plains of Jezreel and Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west." Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprehended the whole northern section of the country (Acts 9:31), and was the largest of the three.
It was the scene of some of the most memorable events of Jewish history. Galilee also was the home of our Lord during at least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord's public ministry in this province. "The entire province is encircled with a halo of holy associations connected with the life, works, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth." "It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two beautiful parables, no less than ninteen were spoken in Galilee. And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three great miracles, twenty-five were wrought in this province. His first miracle was wrought at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee's sea. In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on The Mount, and the discourses on 'The Bread of Life,' on 'Purity,' on 'Forgiveness,' and on 'Humility.' In Galilee he called his first disciples; and there occurred the sublime scene of the Transfiguration" (Porter's Through Samaria).
When the Sanhedrin were about to proceed with some plan for the condemnation of our Lord (John 7:45-52), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Compare Deuteronomy 1:16,17; 17:8.) They replied, "Art thou also of Galilee?.... Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." This saying of theirs was "not historically true, for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee, Jonah of Gath-hepher, and the greatest of all the prophets, Elijah of Thisbe, and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy" (Alford, Com.).

[Smith] (circuit). This name, which in the Roman age was applied to a large province, seems to have been originally confined to a little "circuit" of country round Kedesh-Naphtali, in which were situated the twenty towns given by Solomon to Hiram king of Tyre as payment for his work in conveying timber from Lebanon to Jerusalem. (Joshua 20:7; 1 Kings 9:11) In the time of our Lord all Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria and Galilee. (Luke 17:11; Acts 9:31) Joseph. B.J. iii. 3. The latter included the whole northern section of the country, including the ancient territories of Issachar, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali. On the west it was bounded by the territory of Ptolemais, which probably included the whole plain of Akka to the foot of Carmel. The southern border ran along the base of Carmel and of the hills of Samaria to Mount Gilboa, and then descended the valley of Jezreel by Scythopolis to the Jordan. The river Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, and the upper Jordan to the fountain at Dan, formed the eastern border; and the northern ran from Dan westward across the mountain ridge till it touched the territory of the Phoenicians. Galilee was divided into two sections, "Lower" and "Upper." Lower Galilee included the great plain of Esdraelon with its offshoots, which ran down to the Jordan and the Lake of Tiberias, and the whole of the hill country adjoining it on the north to the foot of the mountain range. It was thus one of the richest and most beautiful sections of Pales-tine. Upper Galilee embraced the whole mountain range lying between the upper Jordan and Phoenicia. To this region the name "Galilee of the Gentiles" is given in the Old and New Testaments. (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:16) Galilee was the scene of the greater part of our Lord’s private life and public acts. It is a remarkable fact that the first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord’s ministrations in this province, while the Gospel of John dwells more upon those in Judea. (Galilee in the time of Christ . --From Rev. Selah Merrill’s late book (1881) with this title, we glean the following facts: Size . --It is estimated that of the 1000 square miles in Palestine west of the Jordan, nearly one-third, almost 2000 square miles, belongs to Galilee. Population --The population is between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000. Dr. Merrill argues for the general correctness of Josephus’ estimates, who says there were 204 cities and villages in Galilee, the smallest of which numbered 15,000 inhabitants. Character of the country . Galilee was a region of great natural fertility. Such is the fertility of the soil that it rejects no plant, for the air is so genial that it suits every variety. The walnut, which delights above other trees in a wintry climate, grows here luxuriantly together with the palm tree, which is flourished by heat. It not only possesses the extraordinary virtue of nourishing fruits of opposite climes, but also maintains a continual supply of them. Here were found all the productions which made Italy rich and beautiful. Forests covered its mountains and hills, while its uplands, gentle slopes and broader valleys were rich in pasture, meadows, cultivated fields, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees of every kind. Character of the Galileans .--They were thoroughly a Jewish people. With few exceptions they were wealthy and in general an influential class. If one should say the Jews were bigoted in religion, he should remember at the same time that in regard to social, commercial and political relations none were more cosmopolitan in either sentiment or practice than they. The Galileans had many manufactures, fisheries, some commerce, but were chiefly an agricultural people. They were eminent for patriotism and courage, as were their ancestors, with great respect for law and order.--ED.)

[Holman] (gal' ih lee) Place name meaning, “circle” or “region.” The northern part of Palestine above the hill country of Ephraim and the hill country of Judah (Joshua 20:7). The Septuagint or early Greek translation referred to a king of the nations of Galilee in Joshua 12:23, though the Hebrew reads, “Gilgal.” Many scholars see the Greek as original (NRSV, REB). This would indicate a leader of a coalition of city-states whom Joshua defeated. Kedesh in Galilee was a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7) and a city for the Levites (Joshua 21:32). Solomon paid Hiram of Tyre twenty cities of Galilee for the building materials Hiram supplied for the Temple and royal palace (1 Kings 9:11), but the cities did not please Hiram, who called them Cabul, meaning, “like nothing” (1 Kings 9:12-13). Apparently, Galilee and Tyre bordered on each other. The cities may have been border villages whose ownership the two kings disputed. The Assyrians took the north under Tiglath-pileser in 733 (2 Kings 15:29) and divided it into three districts—the western coast or “the way of the sea” with capital at Dor, Galilee with capital at Megiddo, and beyond Jordan or Gilead (Isaiah 9:1). The term “Galilee” apparently was used prior to Israel's conquest, being mentioned in Egyptian records. It was used in Israel but not as a political designation. The tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan occupied the territory which covered approximately the forty-five-mile stretch between the Litani River in Lebanon and the Valley of Jezreel in Israel north to south and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River west to east. In the time of Jesus' Galilee, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. Jesus devoted most of His earthly ministry to Galilee, being known as the Galilean (Matthew 26:69). After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Galilee became the major center of Judaism, the Mishnah and Talmud being collected and written there.

[Hastings] 1. Position.—Galilee was the province of Palestine north of Samaria. It was bounded southward by the Carmel range and the southern border of the plain of Esdraelon, whence it stretched eastward by Bethshean (Scythopolis, Beisan) to the Jordan. Eastward it was limited by the Jordan and the western bank of its expansions (the Sea of Galilee and Waters of Merom). Northward and to the north-west it was bounded by Syria and Phœnicia; it reached the sea only in the region round the bay of Acca, and immediately north of it. Its maximum extent therefore was somewhere about 60 miles north to south, and 30 east to west.
2. Name.—The name Galilee is of Hebrew origin, and signifies a ‘ring’ or ‘circuit.’ The name is a contraction of a fuller expression, preserved by Isa_9:1, namely, ‘Galilee of the [foreign] nations.’ This was originally the name of the district at the northern boundary of Israel, which was a frontier surrounded by foreigners on three sides. Thence it spread southward, till already by Isaiah’s time it included the region of the sea, i.e. the Sea of Galilee. Its further extension southward, to include the plain of Esdraelon, took place before the Maccabæan period. The attributive ‘of the nations’ was probably dropped about this time—partly for brevity, partly because it was brought into the Jewish State by its conquest by John Hyrcanus, about the end of the 2nd cent. b.c.
3. History.—In the tribal partition of the country the territory of Galilee was divided among the septs of Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, and part of Issachar. In the OT history the tribal designations are generally used when subdivisions of the country are denoted; this is no doubt the reason why the name ‘Galilee,’ which is not a tribal name, occurs so rarely in the Hebrew Scriptures—though the passage in Isaiah already quoted, as well as the references to Kedesh and other cities ‘in Galilee’ (Jos_20:7; Jos_21:32, 1Ki_9:11, 2Ki_15:29, 1Ch_6:76), show that the name was familiar and employed upon occasion. But though some of the most important of the historical events of the early Hebrew history took place within the borders of Galilee, it cannot be said to have had a history of its own till later times.
After the return of the Jews from the Exile, the population was concentrated for the greater part in Judæa, and the northern parts of Palestine were left to the descendants of the settlers established by Assyria. It was not till its conquest, probably by Joho Hyrcanus, that it was once more included in Jewish territory and occupied by Jewish settlers. Under the pressure of Egyptian and Roman invaders the national patriotism developed rapidly, and it became as intensely a Jewish State as Jerusalem itself, notwithstanding the contempt with which the haughty inhabitants of Judæa regarded the northern provincials. Under the Roman domination Galilee was governed as a tetrarchate, held by members of the Herod family. Herod the Great was ruler of Galilee in b.c. 47, and was succeeded by his son Antipas, as tetrarch, in b.c. 4. After the fall of Jerusalem, Galilee became the centre of Rabhinic life. The only ancient remains of Jewish synagogues are to be seen among the ruins of Galilæan cities. Maimonides was buried at Tiberias. But it is as the principal theatre of Christ’s life and work that Galilee commands its greatest interest. Almost the whole of His life, from His settlement as an infant in Nazareth, was spent within its borders. The great majority of the twelve Apostles were also natives of this province.
4. Physical Characteristics.—Owing to moisture derived from the Lehanon mountains, Galilee is the best-watered district of Palestine, and abounds in streams and springs, though the actual rainfall is little greater than that of Judæa. The result of this enhanced water supply is seen in the fertility of the soil, which is far greater than anywhere in Southern Palestine. It was famous for oil, wheat, barley, and fruit, as well as cattle. The Sea of Galilee fisheries were also important. The formation of the country is limestone, broken by frequent dykes and outflows of trap and other volcanic rocks. Hot springs at Tiberias and elsewhere, and not infrequent earthquakes, indicate a continuance of volcanic and analogous energies.
5. Population.—Galilee in the time of Christ was inhabited by a mixed population. There was the native Jewish element, grafted no doubt on a substratum of the Assyrian settlers and other immigrants, whose intrusion dated from the Israelite Exile—with probably yet a lower stratum, stretching back to the days of the Canaanites. Besides these there was the cultivated European class—the inhabitants of the Greek cities that surrounded the Sea of Tiberias, and the military representatives of the dominant power of Rome. We have seen that in Judæa the Galilæans were looked down upon. ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ (Joh_1:46) was one proverb. ‘Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet’ (Joh_7:52) was another, in the face of the fact that Galilee was the home of Deborah, Barak, Ibzan, Tola, Elon, with the prophets Jonah, Elisha, and possibly Hosea. The Galilæans no doubt had provincialisms, such as the confusion of the gutturals in speech, which grated on the sensitive ears of the Judæans, and was one of the indications that betrayed Peter when he endeavoured to deny his discipleship (Mat_26:73).

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Zarephath (Sarepta):

[E] smelting-shop, "a workshop for the refining and smelting of metals", a small Phoenician town, now Surafend, about a mile from the coast, almost midway on the road between Tyre and Sidon. Here Elijah sojourned with a poor widow during the "great famine," when the "heaven was shut up three years and six months" (Luke 4:26; 1 Kings 17:10). It is called Sarepta in the New Testament (Luke 4:26).

[S] (smelting place ), the residence of the prophet Elijah during the latter part of the drought. (1 Kings 17:9,10) It was near to, or dependent on, Zidon. It is represented by the modern village of Sura-fend . Of the old town considerable indications remain. One group of foundations is on a headland called Ain el-Kanatarah ; but the chief remains are south of this, and extend for a mile or more, with many fragments of columns, slabs and other architectural features. In the New Testament Zarephath appears under the Greek form of SAREPTA. (Luke 4:26)

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Zidon (or Sidon):

[E] a fishery, a town on the Mediterranean coast, about 25 miles north of Tyre. It received its name from the "first-born" of Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:15,19). It was the first home of the Phoenicians on the coast of Palestine, and from its extensive commercial relations became a "great" city (Joshua 11:8; 19:28). It was the mother city of Tyre. It lay within the lot of the tribe of Asher, but was never subdued (Judges 1:31). The Zidonians long oppressed Israel (Judges 10:12). From the time of David its glory began to wane, and Tyre, its "virgin daughter" (Isaiah 23:12), rose to its place of pre-eminence. Solomon entered into a matrimonial alliance with the Zidonians, and thus their form of idolatrous worship found a place in the land of Israel (1 Kings 11:1,33). This city was famous for its manufactures and arts, as well as for its commerce (1 Kings 5:6; 1 Chronicles 22:4; Ezekiel 27:8). It is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isaiah 23:2,4,12; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Ezekiel 27:8; 28:21,22; 32:30; Joel 3:4). Our Lord visited the "coasts" of Tyre and Zidon = Sidon (q.v.), Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24; Luke 4:26; and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). From Sidon, at which the ship put in after leaving Caesarea, Paul finally sailed for Rome (Acts 27:3,4).

[S] An ancient and wealthy city of Phoenicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, less than twenty English miles to the north of Tyre. Its Hebrew name, Tsidon , signifies fishing or fishery . Its modern name is Saida . It is situated in the narrow plain between the Lebanon and the sea. From a biblical point of view this city is inferior in interest to its neighbor Tyre; though in early times Sidon was the more influential of the two cities. This view is confirmed by Zidonians being used as the generic name of Phoenicians or Canaanites. (Joshua 13:6; Judges 18:7) From the time of Solomon to the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar Zidon is not often directly mentioned in the Bible, and it appears to have been subordinate to Tyre. When the people called "Zidonians" are mentioned, it sometimes seems that the Phoenicians of the plain of Zidon are meant. (1 Kings 5:6; 11:1,5,33; 16:31; 2 Kings 23:13) All that is known are respecting the city is very scanty, amounting to scarcely more than that one of its sources of gain was trade in slaves, in which the inhabitants did not shrink from selling inhabitants of Palestine and that it was governed by kings. (Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3) During the Persian domination Zidon seems to have attained its highest point of prosperity; and it is recorded that, toward the close of that period, it far excelled all other Phoenician cities in wealth and importance. Its prosperity was suddenly cut short by an unsuccessful revolt against Persia, which ended in the destruction of the town, B.C. 351. Its king, Tennes had proved a traitor and betrayed the city to Ochus, king of the Persians; the Persian troops were admitted within the gates, and occupied the city walls. The Zidonians, before the arrival of Ochus, had burnt their vessels to prevent any one’s leaving the town; and when they saw themselves surrounded by the Persian troops, they adopted the desperate resolution of shutting themselves up with their families, and setting fire each man to his own house. Forty thousand persons are said to have perished in the flames. Zidon however, gradually recovered from the blow, and became again a flourishing town. It is about fifty miles distant from Nazareth, and is the most northern city which is mentioned in connection with Christ’s journeys. (The town Saida still shows signs of its former wealth, and its houses are better constructed and more solid than those of Tyre, many of them being built of stone; but it is a poor, miserable place, without trade or manufactures worthy of the name. The city that once divided with Tyre the empire of the seas is now almost without a vessel. Silk and fruit are its staple products. Its population is estimated at 10,000, 7000 of whom are Moslems, and the rest Catholics, Maronites and Protestants. --McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia. There is a flourishing Protestant mission here. --ED.)

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