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GAULANITIS gôl’ ə nī’ tĭs (Γαυλανι̂τις). A district E of the Sea of Galilee, from Hippos in the S to Seleucia in the N. The name derives from the ancient town of Golan (Γαυλών; גּוֹלָ֥ן), located by archeologists about seventeen m. E of the Sea of Galilee near the modern Arab town Sheikh Sa’d.

Moses designated Golan as one of three cities of refuge “beyond the Jordan....Golan in Bashan for the Manassites” (Deut 4:41, 43). Under Joshua this status continued, and the Gershonites were assigned to the city (Josh 20:8; 21:27; 1 Chron 6:71). Undoubtedly Golan was the chief city of the district S of Mt. Hermon settled by the tribe of Manasseh.

The city is not mentioned in the NT, although there is an interesting parallel between Acts and Josephus. Josephus identifies a certain revolutionary leader Judas as from Gaulanitis (Jos. Antiq. XVIII. i. 1) whereas Luke identified him as a Galilean (Acts 5:37). Josephus also called him a Galilean (Jos. Antiq. XX. v. 2; War II. viii. 1) proving Luke’s identification correct and suggesting that he was prob. born in Gaulon and active in Galilee. Neither source confuses Galilee with Gaulanitis.

During the Herodian dynasty, Gaulanitis was inherited by Philip after Herod’s death, and continued as a part of his tetrarchy from 4 b.c. until a.d. 34. Philip’s capital was Bethsaida, rebuilt and renamed Bethsaida Julias for the daughter of Augustus Ceasar. Jesus traveled freely in this area (Mark 6:45; 8:22, 27).

It passed to the rule of Agrippa I in a.d. 37 until his death in a.d. 44. In a.d. 53, Agrippa II received it and continued to hold it until the Jewish revolt began in a.d. 66. The area was subject to the early campaign of the Romans against the Jewish revolutionaries (Jos. War IV. i. 1).

The land is part of the E Jordan plateau country and the soil is fertile. During the time of Christ the area was heavily populated.


E. G. Kraeling, Rand McNally Bible Atlas.

See also

  • Golan