City of Galilee, not far from Tyre; known as the native city of the patriot John of Giscala. John tried to keep his fellow citizens from engaging in battle with the Romans, but when Giscala was captured and burned by the surrounding pagan population—from Gadara, Gabara, and Tyre—John rose up in righteous anger and, falling upon the assailants with his army, defeated them. He then rebuilt Giscala, making it more beautiful than it had been before, and fortified it with walls (66 C. E. ; Josephus, "Vita," § 10; comp. ib. § 38). He seems to have secured the means by seizing and converting into money the grain gathered from Upper Galilee for the emperor (ib. § 13). The statement of Josephus (ib. § 21) that the rest of the Galileans desired to destroy the city of Giscala, and were prevented only by himself, can not be credited. He felt himself to be master of the whole of Galilee, although he did not dare to set foot into Gabara or Giscala, which sided with his enemy John (ib. § 54). Nor were the walls of Giscala built by Josephus' order (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 20, § 6). Josephus must have been hostile to that city; but the statement made by Grätz ("Gesch." 4th ed., iii. 492) that he captured and plundered it is due to a corrupt text. In the Niese edition "Sepphoris" is substituted for "Giscala" ("B. J." ii. 21, § 10).

Giscala held out longest among all the cities of Galilee (ib. iv. 2, § 1). Finally Titus attacked it with 1,000 horsemen, and, it being the Sabbath, John requested a truce, and secretly escaped in the night with his warriors. The city opened its gates the second day afterward, and Titus had the walls razed and the fugitive inhabitants massacred (67 C.E.; ib. iv. 2, §§ 2-5). According to Jerome, the apostle Paul's parents lived at Giscala ("De Viris Illustribus," § 5).

"Giscala" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Gush-ḥalab," meaning "fat clod of earth." Large quantities of fine oil, which was a staple article of commerce, were produced there (Josephus, "Vita," § 13; idem, "B. J." ii. 21, § 2; Sifre, Deut. 355; Tosef., Men. ix. 5; Men. 85b); also fine raw silk ("metaxa"; Eccl. R. ii. 8, where, as David Luria remarks, the correct reading of with yod has beenpreserved in the text). The city was considered to be a very ancient fortress ('Ar. ix. 6; Sifra, Behar, iv. 5; the remark in question certainly dates from the time before the Roman destruction).

Meron is mentioned as a community in the neighborhood of Giscala (Ex. R. v. 1; Cant. R. viii. 1). Ruins still remain of the ancient synagogue (Renan, "Mission de Phénicie," pp. 778 et seq.). Both in Meron and in Giscala are shown the tombs of several prominent men of Biblical and tannaitic times, which from the Middle Ages down to the present ("Jerusalem," i., Nos. 69, 89, 121, 127, 141) have been places of pilgrimage not only for the Jews, but also for the Mohammedans (Goldziher, in "Revue de l'Histoire des Religions," 1902, p. 7). Giscala is identical with the present Al-Jish in northern Galilee.

  • Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed. iii. 477-502;
  • Kohut, Aruch Completum, ii. 379;
  • Carmoly, Itinéraires de la Terre Sainte, 1847, passim;
  • Schwarz, Das Heilige, Land, p. 157;
  • Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, vi. 653;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 616, note 50,
  • Zunz, G. S. iii. 303;
  • Bädeker, Palästina und Syrien, 5th ed., p. 287.
G. S. Kr.
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