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When you're looking back at Galilee in Scripture, you see hints of the tensions that existed--cultural, social, and theological. But really understanding this area where Jesus grew up requires a bit more digging. Here's how Alfred Edersheim describes it:
Impartial history, however, must record a different judgment of the men of Galilee from that pronounced by the Rabbis, and that even wherein they were despised by those leaders in Israel. Some of their peculiarities, indeed, were due to territorial circumstances. The province of Galilee— which the name might be rendered "circuit," being derived from a verb meaning "to move in a circle"— the ancient possession of four tribes: Issachar, Zebulon, Naphtali, and Asher. The name occurs already in the Old Testament (compare Joshua 20:7; 1 Kings 9:11; 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 6:76; and especially Isaiah 9:1). In the time of Christ it stretched northwards to the possessions of Tyre on the one side, and to Syria on the other; on the south it was bounded by Samaria— Carmel on the western, and the district of Scythopolis (in the Decapolis) on the eastern side, being here landmarks; while the Jordan and the Lake of Gennesaret formed the general eastern boundary-line. Thus regarded, it would include names to which such reminiscences attach as "the mountains of Gilboa," where "Israel and Saul fell down slain"; little Hermon, Tabor, Carmel, and that great battle-field of Palestine, the plain of Jezreel. Alike the Talmud and Josephus divide it into Upper and Lower Galilee, between which the Rabbis insert the district of Tiberias, as Middle Galilee. We are reminded of the history of Zaccheus (Luke 19:4) by the mark which the Rabbis give to distinguish between Upper and Lower Galilee—former beginning "where sycomores cease to grow." The sycomore, which is a species of fig, must, of course, not be confounded with our sycamore, and was a very delicate evergreen, easily destroyed by cold (Psalms 78:47), and growing only in the Jordan valley, or in Lower Galilee up to the sea-coast. The mention of that tree may also help us to fix the locality where Luke 17:6 was spoken by the Saviour. The Rabbis mention Kefar Hananyah, probably the modern Kefr Anan, to the north-west of Safed, as the first place in Upper Galilee. Safed was truly "a city set on an hill"; and as such may have been in view of the Lord, when He spoke the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14). In the Talmud it is mentioned by the name of Zephath, and spoken of as one of the signal-stations, whence the proclamation of the new moon, made by the Sanhedrim in Jerusalem (see The Temple), and with it the beginning of every month, was telegraphed by fire-signals from hill to hill throughout the land, and far away east of the Jordan, to those of the dispersion.
by Stephen Sanders
I make my living as a videographer. I film interviews of pastors/professors/authors answering questions about the Bible. Then I edit this video footage into individual videos and thousands of people click on them online because they are looking for answers. Books like Proverbs make it easy for us to develop this habit of learning who God is; obtaining the answers to life’s common problems… developing a hope and a trust in God (and a confidence in ourselves, even) that will keep us on the right track like we so desperately want to be.
I recently took a 31-day journey through Proverbs on my blog on Christianity.com, and I hope it will encourage you like it did me:
31 Days of Proverbs
This wisdom in Proverbs makes itself undeniably obvious to us. It “shouts at us” right in the middle of where we exist. This wisdom contains the answers that we so desperately search for.
This wisdom Solomon keeps speaking about isn’t simple knowledge that we learn by living life, learning from our mistakes, etc. It doesn’t just come by natural means. Godly knowledge comes by seeking God fervently by reading the Bible, talking to Him in prayer, and seeking His will for our lives specifically.
We see it over and over. Love God. Love others. Seek God for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding and obtain fulfillment in life. We can sleep at night knowing that we aren’t in trouble.
Chapter 4 comes across as a reiteration. All four of these chapters word it a bit differently, but it’s altogether the same key points. I guess these principles really are important, right?
This is where things begin evolving and we get into some more detail as to what this wisdom & knowledge truly is. Solomon warns us of those who will try to deceive us specifically with sexual temptation.
This one is a really meaty chapter. We go from handling business deals the right way, to the trouble that goes along with procrastination, to the trouble with troublemaking, to the consequences of adultery.
It seems adultery hasn’t changed much over the past few thousand years. If we pay attention, we can learn something that will change our lives forever.
This is one of those passages in the Bible that I love to read slowly and over and over again. I feel like I get a small taste of how amazing God is when I read it. I also feel an enormous sense of gratitude in knowing that He wants me to have the same wisdom that has been by His side since the beginning of time.
But one thing that stuck out to me in this chapter is that there are a lot of similarities between Wisdom and Folly. The difference is in what they are offering and the type of life that results in following each of them.
I’m gonna be honest here. This chapter makes my eyes cross (that probably happens to me when I read the Bible more than it does for most people). One of the things I like to do to eliminate some of that confusion is to break passages up into bite-sized chunks.
God loves humble people with integrity who are righteous. During Solomon’s time, people found this right standing by following rules and giving God sacrifices when they fell short of these rules. Today, we find it through Jesus Christ.
The righteous and upright have integrity. Let’s continue to ask God to help us become those people who the world can begin trusting again.
The further we dig into these chapters, the more I realize how important it is that God has our whole heart. I mean, we have to be committed to Him for it to be possible for us to follow these instructions.
It’s easy to get in a habit of just living life without putting much thought into what causes you to be the kind of person that you are. But after studying these Proverbs, I’m now convinced more than ever that following Jesus is not a cakewalk. If anything, it is actually harder to be a Christian because you can’t just be who you want to be.
In this chapter, I’m noticing a lot of wisdom on watching your words. In this day and age where the vast majority expresses their opinion openly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to “think before you speak.” ESPECIALLY, online where we make comments without running the risk of consequence for our actions.
God is the one who is in control. We should take great comfort in that fact because it means that we don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves to perform.
God’s Word is alive. It tells us when we need to tone it down a notch or crank it up a bit. I can’t help but think that all these minor tweaks along the way are what will surely bring us closer to who we are in Him.
Isn’t it fascinating how much social media has changed the way we communicate with one another? I’ve known myself to be guilty of saying some things that I normally wouldn’t be bold enough to say in real-life conversations.
The more mature I become as a Christian, the more I find that God doesn’t want us to worry about money. He doesn’t want it to control our lives because it has the power to control us to the point where we value it more than Him.
We all know that life isn’t fair. Sometimes the cards we are dealt don’t result in a winning hand. Does that mean that God isn’t “good?”
Basically, she’s the kind of person that pretty much no one wants to be around. The people that do surround her are either (A) just like her or (B) stuck with her.
Proverbs 22 is so important because it tears down this facade of wealthy, healthy, successful = blessed by God. It levels the playing field because it doesn’t matter where you come from. Nothing we achieve enables us to get more of Jesus.
Solomon, the same man who could have had anything he wanted, actually warns us about wealth.
Moderation is a good thing, not only because of what it keeps us from doing too much of, but because of the things that we need to experience just a little bit to still be effective in ministering to the lost and loving the unlovely.
We really need to be sensitive to how we interact with people who are suffering. Many times, I think we try so hard to be “happy, positive Christians” that we forget that we are really supposed to be suffering with these people.
That little voice in our head warns us and, for whatever reason, we ignore it just long enough to not do what it tells us to do.
When was the last time you analyzed the way that other people perceive you?
We are always supposed to support our leaders through prayer. We are supposed to love them, as we want to be loved.
Always accept criticism from others with humility and take those things to God in prayer and by studying the Bible. You’ll likely discover that there were things that you thought you knew about Jesus that you really didn’t… and that is okay.
Material things (specifically our lack or abundance of them) have a way of replacing God. According to the Bible, it’s perfectly okay to be content with what you have.
Sure. We’ve all heard of the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” but what about everything else in the chapter?
When you finish with a Bible reading plan, don't lose momentum. Reading through the entire Bible is a great achievement, but all of us need to keep God's Word in our heads as much as possible. So, once you've finished with one, jump into another plan.
You may want to pick a different type of plan to keep things interesting, and we've added a number of new ones for 2013. There's certainly something to fit any lifestyle. So, how do you change plans? It's easy.
First, just sign in and go to the Reading Plan page.
Next, look for the "Finished with Entire Reading Plan?" link above the list of daily readings on the right-hand side of the page. It looks like this:
Click that link and confirm your choice. (We don't want you to accidentally lose your progress.) You'll then be taken to a page to select a new reading plan.
And that's it. You're ready to get started.
If you ever have any problems, you can always contact us, and we'll get it fixed.
Tell us what plan you've picked in the comments.
Inside BST goes behind the curtain of BibleStudyTools.com and into the minds of our editors and developers. You'll discover encouraging stories, information about the site, links that interest us, and devotionals.
John UpChurch, Senior Editor (BibleStudyTools.com)
Alex Crain, Managing Editor (Christianity.com)
Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial
Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor