1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

Lesson 8: Geography Study Concerning the Scriptures,  The Geopolitical Districts of the Promised Land


Review: Geopolitical Districts this side (west side) of the Jordan River-Phoenicia, Galilee, Samaria, and Judea


Geopolitic Districts – Districts or areas somewhat defined by the structure or geography of the earth. 


In early civilizations it was natural for peoples to be isolated from one another by natural boundaries such as rivers, lakes, seas, mountains, deserts or other wastelands. 


Peoples in these areas tended to be cohesive in that they shared the protection of these natural boundaries against their enemies. 


In fact these natural boundaries united them together because they were common to all people within that area. 


The Promised land throughout its early history was divided by natural boundaries and these natural boundaries dictated the political union of the peoples in these districts or areas. 


The Promised land was divided into two majors parts because of the Jordan River and the Jordan Rift Valley in which the river  was situated.


The area east of the Jordan, called this side of the Jordan, is named Cisjordan. 


Cis is a prefix occuring in words meaning on this side.


The area west of the Jordan, or across the Jordan is called Transjordan, trans meaning across.


The Second geopolital district


Galilee (Gal' ih leeee) means, “circle” or “region.”


Just inland from the southern ranges of Phoenicia (foh ni' kih uh) was the Galilean district, the northernmost territory actually occupied by ancient Israel. 


Galilee referred to the mostly mountainous terrain (2000 to 4000 feet above sea level) that was bordered on the east by the Jordan Valley including the sea of Galilee, on its south by the mountains adjacent to the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley (Esdraelon) and on its north by the Latani River gorge.


Galilee therefore measured no more than 50 miles north-south and 25 miles east-west.


This district was at all times divided laterally into upper and lower Galilee by the slender Beth Kerem valley.


Solomon paid Hiram of Tyre twenty cities of Galilee for the building materials Hiram supplied for the Temple and royal palace (1 Kings 9:11), but the cities did not please Hiram, who called them Cabul, meaning, “like nothing” (1 Kings 9:12-13).


The term “Galilee” apparently was used prior to Israel’s conquest, being mentioned in Egyptian records.


The term “Galilee” was used in Israel but not as a political designation.


The tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan occupied the territory which covered approximately the forty-five-mile stretch between the Litani River in Lebanon and the Valley of Jezreel in Israel north to south and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River west to east. 


Much of this area is in Galilee.


In the time of the Galilee of Jesus Christ, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea to the south.


Jesus devoted most of His earthly ministry to Galilee, being known as the Galilean and Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 26:69).


The first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord’s public ministry in this province or district.


It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two beautiful parables, no less than nineteen were spoken in Galilee.


And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three great miracles, twenty-five were accomplished in this province.


His first miracle was done at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee’s sea.


In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on The Mount, and the discourses on ‘The Bread of Life,’ on ‘Purity,’ on ‘Forgiveness,’ and on ‘Humility.’


In Galilee he called his first disciples; and there took place the Transfiguration.

Most likely the location of the transfiguration is Mount Hermon (9,100 feet) to the north of Caesarea Philippi and north of the Lake of Homs.


When the Sanhedrin were about to proceed with some plan for the condemnation of our Lord (John 7:45-52), Nicodemus interposed in his behalf. (Compare Deut. 1:16, 17; 17:8.) They replied, Art thou also of Galilee?... Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.


This saying of theirs was not historically true, for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee, Jonah of Gath-hepher, and the greatest of all the prophets, Elijah of Thisbe, and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea.


Their prejudice against those from the rural Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy (Alford, Com.).


The Galilean accent differed from that of Jerusalem in being broader and more guttural.


Mark 14:70, And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.


After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Galilee became the major center of Judaism, the Mishnah and Talmud being collected and written there. 


SAMARIA, SAMARITANS (suh may' rih uh, suh mehr' ih tuhn)


To the south of Galilee lay the third geopolitical and historical province, Samaria. 


Prior to its designation of Samaria it was called the hill country of Ephraim.


Ephraim was one of the tribes which occupied a part of this area.


This district eventually drew its name from Samaria, the capital city of the Northern kingdom of Israel.


Forty-two miles north of Jerusalem and nine miles northwest of Nablus, a hill protrudes from the broad valley which cuts across the central highlands of Israel.


There lie ruins of ancient Samaria near a small village called Sebastiya.


Samaria was the capital, residence, and burial place of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 16:23-28; 22:37; 2 Kings 6:24-30).


Samaria’s borders correspond to the region of Palestine’s central hill country. 


It stretched to the edge of the Esdraelon or Jezreel valley in the north, to the vicinity of the Jordan River in the east, and to the interior of the coastal plain in the west. 


Its southern boundary followed a natural topographic line that extended from Jerico, via the Wadi (Dry Rocky Watercourse) Makkuk, to Ophrah (See maps 11 and 28 for Wadi Makkuk).


From there the border proceeded past Bethel to upper Beth-horon, where it began to descend through the Wadi Aijalon and broke out into the coastal plain opposite Gezer. 


Samaria compassed, therefore, an area approximately 40 miles north-south and 35 miles east-west, a little bigger than our own county.


The natural geographic center of Samaria was at the city of Shechem, located in the vale between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, and immediately adjacent to the modern town of Nablus. 


At this point was the intersection of a road coming from Jerusalem and a road coming from the coast of the Mediterranean. 


At road intersections, then as now, towns sprang up.


Shechem was the site of Abraham’s initial worship in Palestine and also the site where Joseph’s bones finally came to rest.


Shechem was the site where Jesus Christ confronted the woman at the well.


The city of Samaria was more prominent during the time of the divided kingdom but Shechem again became prominent after the Assyrians brought about the end of the northern kingdom.


The captives who were brought into Samaria embraced a number of articles within Judaism and in time came to regard themselves as Jews but not by the real Jews. 


There was prejudice against the Samaritans throughout the remainder of the biblical period. John 4:9; 8:48


John 4:9,  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.


Following the Northern Kingdom’s fall to Assyria (721 B.C.), exiles from many nations settled Samaria (Ezra 4:9-10).


Herod the Great obtained control of Samaria in 30 B.C. and made it one of the chief cities of his territory.


Samaria is the only major city founded by Israel, the Northern Kingdom.


While the term Samaria was first identified with the city, it soon became associated with the entire region surrounding the city, the tribal territory of Manasseh and Ephraim.


Finally, the name Samaria became synonymous with the entire Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 13:32; Jer. 31:5).


After the Assyrian conquest, Samaria began to shrink in size.


By New Testament times, it became identified with the central region of Palestine, with Galilee to the north and Judea to the south.


In the days of Christ, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was greatly strained (Luke 9:52-54; 10:25-37; 17:11-19; John 8:48).


The animosity was so great that the Jews bypassed Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea.


They went an extra distance through the barren land of Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan to avoid going through Samaria.


We do that today when we avoid certain areas of cities.


Yet Jesus rebuked His disciples for their hostility to the Samaritans (Luke 9:55-56), healing a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:16), honoring a Samaritan for his neighborliness (Luke 10:30-37), praising a Samaritan for his gratitude (Luke 17:11-18), asking a drink of a Samaritan woman (John 4:7), and preaching to the Samaritans (John 4:40-42).


Then in Acts 1:8, Jesus challenged His disciples to witness in Samaria.


Philip, a deacon, opened a mission in Samaria .


Acts 8:5-6,  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.