GALILEE has a special interest, in that it was the scene of the greater part of the ministry of our Lord, and the district in which he spent nearly all of his earthly life. Nazareth of Galilee was his home up to the time of the commencement of his public ministry; and through its cities and villages he passed once and again, teaching and preaching the gospel of repentance, healing the sick, and raising the dead. To know something of this country, and the people among whom Jesus was wont to mingle, seems essential to an understanding of his life and work.

The country known as Galilee comprised that part of Palestine north of Samaria. Its boundaries, like those of the country, of which it was a part, varied at different times; but, at the largest, it was rather like a moderate county than a province. Galilee was, of old, very populous; Josephus speaks of "two hundred and four towns and villages, the smallest of them containing fifteen thousand inhabitants." Allowing something for the usual exaggeration of Josephus, it is thought that the population of the whole district cannot have been less than three million people.

Jewish writers never tire of praising Galilee as a whole. Its climate, they say, was a well-nigh perpetual spring, its soil the most fertile in Palestine, its fruits renowned for their sweetness. The whole province was, and, to some degree, still is, full of verdure, and rich in shade and pleasantness. Dense woods crowned the higher hills and mountains; the uplands and valleys were rich in pastures, cultivated fields, vineyards, olive groves, and orchards; and the rich dark soil of the plain of Esdraelon bore magnificent crops of Indian corn and wheat.

"Galilee was, and is also, remarkable for the beauty and variety of its wild flowers. In early spring the whole country is spangled with them, and the air is filled with their odors. Birds, too, are exceedingly numerous. The rocky banks are all alive with partridges, the meadows swarm with quails and larks, “the voice of the turtle" resounds through every grove, and pigeons are heard cooing up in the cliffs and glen-sides, and are seen in flocks hovering over the corn-fields."

The mountainous part of Galilee abounds in beautiful and picturesque scenery. Says Mr. Porter, "Forests of evergreen oak sweep round the flanks of the hills in graceful belts, and line the sides of the valleys, leaving open glades and undulating expanses of green grass, such as are seen in English parks."

On the eastern side of Galilee lies the sea of Gennesaret, or Galilee, whose shore was once thickly dotted with towns and villages. 

As might be supposed, the main products of the country were fish from this sea, and wheat, wine, and olive oil, which the whole land yielded so abundantly.

Through the heart of the country passed the most frequented route from Damascus to the Mediterranean, thus giving abundant facilities for commerce. There was doubtless more life and stir in Galilee than in Judea, which would make it a more hopeful field for the labors of Jesus. It is easy to imagine the scene in his days. Busy laborers till the vineyards, plow the fields, or dig the gardens; and on the roads and beside the hedges the blind and crippled await the gifts of passers by. In the towns everything goes on vigorously: the buyers and sellers are busy with their trades, and in the market-places laborers are hired. As evening comes on, we see the farm-servant wending his way homeward with his plow; the songs and dance of light-hearted youth on the village green are heard from a distance, and the children play and strive in the open places of the town.

From morning till night the hum of many-colored life goes on; the busy crowds have no time to think about higher things. One has bought a field and must go and see it, another must go and try a new yoke of oxen, another must needs "go a fishing," and still another has some other business, a feast, a marriage, or a burial, nearly all of them too busy to heed the words of Him who walked among them, speaking as never man spake.

K. H.