Arabbe was the Jewish Town Arav until the 7th Century / DR.R.S.Lissak

Nowadays Arabbe is an Arabic town, situated in the centre of the Lower Galilee, 6 kilometres south of Carmiel. It is situated on the site of the Jewish town Arav. About 21,100 people live in Arabbe, most of them are Muslims.

The name Arabbe is the Arabic translation of the Hebrew Arav, but according to the town's residents the meaning of name in Arabic is "situated on a hill".

The First Temple Period (1,000 – 587 BCE)

Arav was established during the Kingdom period, i.e., around the 10th century BCE. .The Lower Galilee district was conquered and its settlements were demolished in 733/2 BCE, by the Assyrian king Tiglath Pealeser, and the population was expelled to Assyria (Iraq today).

The Second Temple Period (538 BCE – 70 CE)

The Lower Galilee was resettled by Jews after 150 years during the Persian Period ( 6th – 5th Century BCE).The ancient site of Arab was discovered near the Christian church, South- East to Arabbe.
During the Second Temple period Arav was a central Jewish city in the Lower Galilee, the third largest of all the Jewish Galilean cities. Tzipori and Arav were sub-district cities in the Lower Galilee. Shimon the Hasmonean transferred some of Arav’s Jewish residents to Judea.
According to Josephus Plavius, Arav had a Greek name ,also. Two residents of Arab were buried in the ancient cemetery of Beit Shearim. On one tombstone the name Arab was written while on the other, its Greek name, Gavra.
Arav’s Jews were not actively involved in the Great Revolt (66 – 70 CE), because the city did not have any defenses. Its residents fled when Aspasianus approached it. The Romans nevertheless demolished the city to its foundations, killed all its mail population and enslaved its women and children. There are no archaeological remains from the Revolt period.

The Roman Period (70 CE – 324 CE)

The city was rebuilt after the destruction of the Temple, but the status of regional leadership was transferred to the neighboring Sakhnin. Arav’s area was annexed to the district of Tzipori. The Petahya priestly clan settled in Arav after leaving Jerusalem. Like Sakhnin and other Jewish Galilean settlements, Arav became a centre for Torah studies. Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakay, the Rabbi that established the Sanhedrin in Yavne, lived in Arav for 18 years. He and Rabbi Haninna Ben Dossa taught there in a Yeshiva (a Talmudic college) which they founded. The teacher Reuben Ha-Iztruballi lived in Arav as well. Another Yeshiva was established in Arav by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Evidently, some of Arav’s population suffered economically. A story about the family of Rabbi Haninna Ben Dossa tells how the family took care to hide its poverty: Rabi Haninna’s wife used to stoke the stove on the eve of the Sabbath so that its chimney smoked and the neighbors would think she was baking the Sabbath bread.

Archaeological remains from the Roman period were found in Arabbe.
Rabbi Haninna Ben Dossa and Reuben Ha-Iztruballi are both buried in Arav. The burial caves in Arabbe are dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. They were discovered when one of Arabbe residents digged to built a shelter for his family.

Prior to the Great Revolt, there were 204 Jewish villages and cities in the Galilee. After the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132 – 135 CE), 56 Jewish settlements remained out of the 63 that survived the Great Revolt.

As part of Caesar Hadrian’s Helenisation policy, the Helenistic city Diocaesaria (formerly Tzipory, now under foreign rule although most of the population was Jewish) became autonomous and Arav and its area were annexed to it.

The Byzantine Period (324 CE – 640 CE)

According to an archaeological survey made by Mordechai Aviam, there were 58 Jewish settlements in Eastern Galilee during the Byzantine period. The Byzantine period was a hard time for the Jews once Christianity became the official faith. Anti-Jewish legislation increased gradually during the 4th and 5th centuries. Jews were humiliated and made to suffer by the church and the Christians – non-Jewish immigrants who settled in Israel since the time of Alexander the Great. These people were Geek and Arameans from Syria, and whose number was continually increasing.

Zealous Christians used to attack Jews and set their synagogues on fire. This situation brought about continued decrease in the number of Jewish settlements as well as the Jewish population in the settlements that survived. Jews preferred exile over persecution and murder. During this time Christians began settling in Arav, pushing the Jews out and taking their place. Arabbe’s modern day church is built on the remnants of the Byzantine church which was built there at the beginning of the 5th century. Remnants of other ancient Byzantine structures can also be found in Arabbe.

The Byzantine government’s treatment of the Jews caused them to support the Sassan Persians when the Persians invaded the country in 614 CE. The Persians were pushed out by the Byzantine Caesar Heraklius in 628 CE.

When Heraklius arrived in the Galilee he was welcomed by a delegation of Galilean Jews offering gifts. He promised to forgive their support for the Persians, but changed his mind latter under the pressure of the Church. The Jewish population paid a heavy price for its support of the Persians. Some were sentenced to death, many were massacred by the Byzantines, their towns ruined, and those who survived were pushed out by the Christians who took their place or killed them. And so it is that Arav ceased to be Jewish on the eve of the Arabic conquest. Mordechai Aviam's survey shows that during the 6th century the process of desertion of Jewish settlements began. The Jews were either massacred or ran away.

The Arabic Period (640 CE – 1099 CE)

A few ancient buildings survive from this period.

The Crusade Period (1099 CE – 1260 CE)

Most of Arabbe’s Christians became Muslim, following Saladin’s victory at the Battle of Hattin (1187). Saladin and his heirs ruled this part of the country for a while. A mosque was built at that time which is still in use.
Arabbe was mentioned by the Arab geographer, Yakut Al Hamawi (1179 – 1229)

The Mameluk Period (1260 CE – 1516 CE)

During the Mameluk period Arabbe became the district capital.

The Ottoman Period (1517 CE – 1918 CE)

Arabbe grew during the Ottoman period and buildings from that period, including an olive press, can still be found there. In late 17th century or early 18th century, the Muslims, led by Zeydan El Ommar (grandfather of Taher El Ommar) massacred the Druze who had settled in Hirbet Salame (today’s Tzalmon). Arabbe, like other settlements in the area, was conquered by Sheikh Dahar El Ommar in 1740's (a public building of his time has survived), but was taken back by the Ottomans in 1775.

The British Mandate Period (1918 – 1948)

During this period the town’s population grew and in 1931 numbered 1200.


Arabbe was conquered by the Israeli army during "Dekel operation (July 9-18, 1948). After Nazareth fell into Jewish hands all the neiboring villages surrended. Nowadays 21,100 residents live in Arabbe, most of them Muslim with a Christian minority (2%).

In 1976 the Israel Land Administration decided to confiscate some Arab land in order to develop the neighboring Jewish city of Carmiel. This was a second confiscation. The first took place in 1975. The efforts of the "National committee of the Arab municipalities" formed in 1974, to cancel the confiscation failed and they called for a national strike in protest. Arabbe was one of the centers of the strike. The strike in the Arab settlements around the country became violent and 6 protesters were killed by the police during its efforts to put an end to the violence.

In October 2000 Arabs all over the country protested as an act of solidarity with the intifada in the Western Bank and Gaza Strip. The protest became violent and some policemen were wounded. In its efforts to end the violence, the police shoot 13 Arabs. Two of them were youngsters from Arabbe. The police should have used other means to end the violence, but, there is no accuse for the violent behavior of the protesters. They threw stones on Jewish cars and wounded policemen. One Jew was killed.

The October 2000 event is an expression of the process that has began since the 6 days war in 1967. The Israeli-Arab leadership in Israel has become estranged to the Jewish state, and they are behind the violence.

Israeli governments are trying recently to close the gap between Jewish and Arab municipalities, by special projects to help develop the Arab settlements. A special project began in September 2006.

Let's hope that this will improve the relations between Jews and Arabs.

Arav town in the lower Galilee.

Klausner was the source for identifying Gebara of Josephus with Arav(a) on the basis that it was so destroyed in the first jewish revolt that nothing remained. Arav, is mentioned in the Mishnah, but not by Josephus and Klausner by eliminating the(G) or guttural ayin of the name Gabara ,arrives at Abara. With a simple twist we then have Arava. The problem is those two tombs in Beit Shearim. One of a man from Arava and another from Gabara. Apparently, Gabara did not disappear as Josephus says, but cotinued to exist. In other words, we are dealing with two separate towns.

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