The Galilean valleys (beq'aoth) from the bible to the talmud

Ben Zion Rosenfeld

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This paper is a historical, geographical, philological and sociological examination of a phenomenon unique to the Galilee in the Roman-Byzantine period. Sage literature mentions ten named beq'aoth ("valleys"), such as Biq'ath Beth-netophah, a usage unknown in earlier Jewish literature. An examination of the history of the word biq'a and associated terms (emeq, gai), from Biblical times up to the last books of the sages, reveals a development in usage, with a major shift after the Second Temple Period and especially after Bar-Kochva's Revolt. This conforms with the transformation at that period of the Galilee into the central Jewish settlement. The word biq'a is then applied to areas of Jewish settlement and economic importance. It develops even further, to become a significant ideological catchword, denoting the most fertile areas of the Galilean economy, and even becomes an established element in the cycle of religious blessings. A society expresses its ecomonic and national character through its language, and the use of the term biq'a testifies to the sharp decline in Jewish fortunes at that period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-100
Number of pages35
JournalRevue Biblique
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


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