5/4 B.C. to A.D. 33 Part 2
The Final Journey from Galilee to Jerusalem
In the spring of A. D. 33, Jesus left Galilee for the last time and joined the pilgrims that were traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover. His route took Him through Perea, and He taught the people as they journeyed along. Near Jericho He came upon two blind men and healed them. Next He visited the home of Zacchaeus, who was a corrupt tax gatherer that turned to Jesus and let Him change His life. Then from the city of Jericho, Jesus ascended the hill country through Wadi Qilt to Jerusalem.
The Passion Week in Jerusalem
Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem probably took place on a Monday, rather than on the traditional “Palm Sunday”. It was March 30, A. D. 33. He came on the very day that was prophesied by Daniel, and in the exact manner that Zechariah had announced by riding on a donkey.
The multitude welcome him by crying out “Hosanna” (save). They were appealing to Him for deliverance in the name of His messianic office. They were expecting Him to save them in the way that they had always been saved before, but Jesus knew that there could be no crown without the cross. It would be later on in that same week when many in the multitude who had praised Him and bowed down to Him, would be the very same ones who would cry out for His crucifixion.
During His last week in Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the Temple for a second time, engaged in controversy with the religious leaders, and delivered his Olivet discourse. On Thursday evening, He met in the upper room with His disciples for the Passover Supper.
He was betrayed later that night by Judas, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and examined by Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and by Pilate again. Although Pilate found Him to be innocent, the crowd demanded crucifixion, so he turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to carry out the task.
About 9 A. M. on Friday, April 3, A. D. 33. Jesus was nailed to a rough cross. After his death, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus secured the body and arranged for its burial. Jesus broke the bonds of death, though, just as was prophesied also on the next Sunday morning. The visitors who first came to the tomb found it empty and an angel told them “He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said!”
That evening, Jesus appeared to 10 disciples in the upper room, and a week later came by when all 11 of them were there. During his 40-day-post-resurrection ministry, He appeared to many of His disciples. He spent as much time as possible teaching them about things concerning the Kingdom of God. Then, from the Mount of Olives, he ascended into heaven.
Below is a picture of the Upper Room that Jesus and His Disciples used for the Last Supper right before He was crucified.
The District of Galilee
Since this district served as the location for most of Jesus’ ministry, we will do a pretty thorough survey of the region. It is necessary for a real background of His life and ministry.
The name Galilee means “circle” or “district”. The fuller name for it was “district of the Gentiles”. The name was applied to the northern district of Palestine, which was surrounded on three sides by foreign nations.
Galilee today is geographically bounded on the north by the Litani River, on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by the Sea of Galilee and Upper Jordan Valley, and on the south by the Valley of Jezreel. There is some debate as to whether in Roman times the district included any part of the Valley of Jezreel, since it has been regarded as neutral ground.
Regions of Galilee
According to Josephus, Galilee is divided naturally into two regions: upper and lower. The border between the two regions is marked by a steep slope that rises 1,500 to 2,000 feet. This fault is known as Esh-Shaghur, and cuts across the country between Acco/Ptolemais/Acre on the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern end of the Sea of Galilee.
Galilee is a mountainous plateau that lies between the fault of Esh-Shaghur and the Litani River. The elevations in the northern region average about 3,000 feet above sea level, and are isolated by mountains and narrow valleys. Upper Galilee’s highest peak (Jebel Jermuk) rises to 3,962 feet along the eastern slopes of the fault of Esh-Shaghur. The terrain then slopes northward to between 1,500 and 1,800 feet before dropping into the Litani River gorge.
The region is composed primarily of hard ridges of Cenomanian limestone and plateaus of softer Senonian chalk. This windswept mountainous area was densely forested at the time of Jesus. In Roman times there were some small villages and fortresses, but upper Galilee was sparsely populated because of its terrain, and there is not much biblical history written about it. Its rugged terrain and isolation basically made it a “region of escape” for Israelites that were resisting political domination by foreign powers.
Lower Galilee is much less mountainous, with the average elevation being about 2,000 feet above sea level. The mountains are bisected by a series of small east-west valleys that give the region the structure and general form of a staircase as it descends from upper to lower Galilee.
From south to north, the valley includes the:
the Tur’an Basin (just north of the Nazareth Ridge)
the Beth Netufa Valley
the Halazun Basin
the Beth Ha-Keram Valley (bordered on the north by the fault of Esh-Shaghur)
These basins and valleys provided a number of easy routes across lower Galilee to the Sea of Galilee. They tended to converge on the northwest shore at the Plain of Gennesaret. Because of inadequate drainage and the steepness of the valleys, travelers often followed the mountain ridges rather than the valleys, especially during the wet winter months.
Galilee was allotted to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, and Issachar. Asher occupied western Galilee in the vicinity of the coastal plain, Zebulun received central Galilee, Naphtali lived in northeastern Galilee, and Issachar received the eastern part of the Jezreel and the regions directly north.
Climate of Galilee
Precipitation in Palestine tends to increase as one goes north, so Galilee receives a relative abundance of rainfall. Because of its elevation and proximity to the sea, it also has the coldest and wettest winter of any region in Palestine. Lower Galilee receives between 20 and 30 inches of rain annually; while Upper Galilee may receive as much as 40 inches.
Galilee is also known for its plentiful amount of dew that forms when the moisture-laden Mediterranean air settles on the cool Galilean hills and valleys. The western portion of lower Galilee receives at least 200 dew nights annually. This is a considerable benefit to the agriculture of the area during the rainless summer months.
Temperatures here vary considerably, depending on elevation and distance from the sea. During the summer months, the range is 65 – 85° F. Winter temperatures average between 40 and 50°, with many frequent freezes occurring.
Galilee is affected considerably by the Mediterranean sea breezes. Afternoon winds are known to sweep through the valley of lower Galilee, and funnel down to the Sea of Galilee causing violent gales, such as were mentioned in the Bible. In the hills, winter storm winds with a velocity of 75 MPH have been measured.
Economy of Galilee
Its fertility was highly praised by Josephus, who said that no part of the land was left uncultivated. The abundant rains, gentle terrain, wide valleys, and rich soil contributed significantly to the agricultural prosperity of the Galileans. Other natural resources included its fine forests and plentiful fish from the Sea of Galilee.
The fishing industry was a primary source of income near the Sea of Galilee, and it was here that Jesus found his first followers. The land’s salted, or pickled fish, were sold all over Palestine. The people here also profited from the linen that they manufactured from the flax grown in the region.
This land was also well known in ancient times as a wheat-producing region, and also produced olive oil in abundance. Olive groves were planted on the lower slopes of the hills, while grain grew in the fields of the fertile basins. The Galileans also cultivated a variety of vegetables, and it was Palestine’s largest wine-producing region.
One of its most important commercial assets was its location on the Via Maris, which was the most important trade route of the ancient Near East. The early Galileans profited from the trade of the people coming through, and also from customs that were levied on the caravans that passed through. Matthew was a customs collector for Herod Antipas in Capernaum, which was an important toll station on the Via Maris, when Jesus called him to be His disciple.