August 11th, 2012

Galilee: Profile of the Region of Galilee - History, Geography, Religion

the Hasmoneans ... launched a process of “internal colonization” in order to reestablish Jewish cultural and political dominance in Galilee.
Jewish historian Josephus records that there were over 200 villages in Galilee in 66 CE, so it was heavily populated by this time. Being more exposed to foreign influences than other Jewish regions, it has a strong pagan as well as Jewish population. Galilee was also known as Galil ha-Goim, Region of the Gentiles, because of the high Gentile population and because the region was surrounded on three sides by foreigners.

A unique “Galilean” identity was developed under Roman political procedures which caused Galilee to be treated as a separate administrative area, cut off from Judea and Samaria. This was enhanced by the fact that Galilee was, for quite some time, ruled by Roman puppets rather then directly by Rome itself. This allowed for greater social stability, too, meaning that it wasn’t a center of anti-Roman political activity and it wasn’t a marginalized region — two misconceptions many take from the gospel stories.

Galilee is also the region where Judaism acquired most of its modern form. After the second Jewish Revolt (132-135 CE) and Jews were expelled from Jerusalem entirely, many were forced to migrate north. This greatly increased the population of Galilee and, over time,
Galilee: Profile of the Region of Galilee - History, Geography, Religion

f the four largest cities of Galilee had less than 12,000 population or less, and there were 200 villages of 100 or 200 people each,  Galilee could not have had a population much greater than 500,000 in 66 a.d.  If the Roman conquest of that year and the next led to the enslavement  and/or death of 100,000 Jews (?) then everyone's life was severely disrupted by that episode.