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Generically, a Galilean is an inhabitant of Galilee. Historically, a Galilean dialect of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic was spoken there. Later, the term was used to refer to the early Christians, among others by the Roman emperors Julian and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

The Galilee up until the time of Jesus[edit]

After some early expeditions to Galilee to save the Jews there from attack, the Hasmonean rulers conquered Galilee and added it to their kingdom.

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!"[1]

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, see for example Woes of the Pharisees. This was the heart of a friendly "crosstown" rivalry existing between Galilean Zealots and Judean Pharisees.

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.

Unlike the Judeans and the Idumean, the Galileans survived until nowadays in the village of Peki'in, until 500 years ago, Peki'in had a Jewish majority and Galilean Jews had presence in many villages such as Kafr Yassif, Biriyya, Alma and more.

Other meanings[edit]

Galileans (or Galilæans) were also the 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.[2]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 16:7, 15d
  2. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Galilæans". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.