What prophets came from Galilee?
In John 7:52, the Pharisees told Nicodemus, “Search and see that no prophet arises out of
Galilee.” Were they correct that no prophet ever came out of Galilee?
The Prophet Jonah was from from Gath-hepher. The Prophet Micah from Moresheth. The Prophet Elijah from Gilead. The Prophet Elisha was from Abel-meholah and the Prophet Hosea was from the Ephraimite Kingdom which is part of Galilee.
It seems so incredible that these supposed experts did not know that five prophets came out of Galilee: Jonah, Nahum, Hosea, Elijah, and Elisha. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, which is in Galilee. He was called Jesus of Nazareth, so the Pharisees assumed that He was born in Galilee.
The Pharisees were adamant that no prophet ever came out of Galilee because they thought it was proof that Jesus was not a prophet and could not be the Messiah. They knew the Scriptures prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (John 7:42, Micah 5:2). So the Pharisees were wrong on two points: No prophet had come from Galilee and that Jesus could not be the Messiah. For whatever reason, Jesus never stated during His public ministry that He was born in Bethlehem.
Now before going on into my explication, I feel that a few maps of the regions involved would help clarify a few basic problems here. At lest they would shed some light on the situation at hand.
Map of Judea at the time of Jesus
Map of Samaria at the time of Jesus
Map of Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee
In John 7:45-52, the Pharisees say that no prophet has arisen from the Galilee. But in 2 Kings 14:23-27 it says that Jonah was from Gath Hepher, which is in Galilee. How do you answer the person who would say that this is a contradiction in the scriptures?
In the John passage you quoted, the Pharisees declared that no prophet had arisen from the Galilee, and as you say Jonah was from the Galilee. For that matter, Nahum was also from the Galilee, since he was from the tribe of Simeon, which settled in the Galilee, and some scholars believe Micah may have been a Galilean as well. So clearly, the Pharisees were wrong about prophets not originating in the Galilee. Prophets do, in fact, arise from the Galilee.
When the Pharisees mistakenly claimed (or more likely intentionally lied) by stating that no prophet arises from the Galilee, they were attempting to discredit Jesus. They were playing to a widely held bias against Galileans in their day. In fact, the common name for the Galilee region was the "Galilee of the Gentiles," since it was considered an area inhabited by people who were something "less than Jew."
The Pharisees were also wrong when they tried to associate Jesus with the Galilee in this way. Jesus was not from the Galilee. Jesus was from Bethlehem, the ancestral home of David and the tribe of Judah, therefore he was only a Galilean by association, not by birth. So, even if the Pharisees had been correct in saying that no prophet arises from the Galilee, Jesus could still defend Himself against their accusations since He was not born in that region.
If the Pharisees had bothered to do their homework (or if they had honest intentions), they would have known Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is exactly the place where the Messiah was predicted to be born in Deuteronomy 18:15.
So, there is no contradiction in scripture. The Pharisees' statements were simply not true. They were included by John in his gospel to record how the Pharisees were making false statements against Jesus in an effort to discredit Him.
A possible contradiction in scripture?
The Prophets Jonah, Micah and Elijah are easily identifiable as being from Galilee; however the Prophets Elisha and Hosea need a little more intuition as to decipher that they are also from Galilee.
The Prophet Hosea is from the Ephraimite Kingdom which is part of Galilee. As recorded in the Book of Joshua, the territory allocated to the Tribe of Ephraim was at the center of Canaan, west of the Jordan, south of the territory of Manasseh, and north of the Tribe of Benjamin. The region later named Samaria (as distinguished from Judea or Galilee) consisted mostly of Ephraim's territory.
Osee (Hôsheá‘—Salvation), son of Beeri, was one of the Minor Prophets, and a subject of the Ephraimite Kingdom which he calls "the land", whose king is for him "our king", and the localities of which are familiar to him, while he speaks of Juda but seldom and does not even make mention of Jerusalem. - Osee
Map of Ephraim
The Prophet Elisha or Eliseus was the son of Shaphat, a wealthy land-owner of Abel-meholah and he became the attendant and disciple of Elijah.
Abel-meholah (Hebrew: אָבֵל מְחוֹלָה, Avel Mehola) was a ancient city frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament of Christianity). It is best known for being the birthplace and residence of the prophet Elisha. It is traditionally located near the Jordan River, south of Beit-She'an.
The site of Abel-meholah has not yet been identified with certainty. Jerome and Eusebius refer to it as both a town and an area in the Jordan Valley, about ten Roman miles south of Bethshean. Epiphanius of Salamis, mentioning the village, writes that in his day it was called Beth-meholah.
In the late 19th century, explorers were trying to identify the exact mound. Conder stated with some confidence that the site "is now called 'Ain Helweh". Noth and Ottosson identified Abel-meholah with Tell Abu el-Kharaz, east of the Jordan River.
Modern scholars generally agree that it has to be found in that area and west of the Jordan River, probably at the spot where Wadi al-Malih, a stream which might preserve the ancient name Meholah, merges into the Jordan. Two tells in that general area, Tell Abu Sifri and Tell Abu Sus, are suitable candidates with the latter being more likely. Tell Abu Sifri is situated at the confluence of Wadi al-Helweh and Wadi al-Malih, while Tell Abu Sus is closer to the Jordan. Neither of the two have yet been excavated.
Two Israeli settlements in the area, Mehola and nearby Shadmot Mehola, are named after the biblical city.
Bethshan and surrounding area
If we accept that this is the location of Bethshan, being just north of Mount Gilboa, places it squarely in Galilee.
The definition of Galilee varies depending on the period, author, and point of view (geological, geographical, administrative). Ancient Galilee consisted in broad terms of the Upper and Lower Galilee. Today the northwestern part of the Upper Galilee is in Southern Lebanon, with the rest being in Israel. The Israeli Galilee is often divided into these subregions, which often overlap:
Upper Galilee extends from the Beit HaKerem Valley northwards into southern Lebanon. Its eastern border is the Hula Valley and the Sea of Galilee separating it from the Golan Heights. To the west it reaches to the Coastal Plain which separates it from the Mediterranean.
Lower Galilee covers the area north of the Valleys (Jezreel, Harod and Beth Shean Valley) and south of the Beit HaKerem Valley. Its borders to the east on the Jordan Rift Valley. It contains the Arab city of Nazareth and the village of Cana.
The "Galilee Panhandle" (Hebrew: אצבע הגליל, Etzba HaGalil, lit. "Finger of Galilee") is a panhandle along the Hulah Valley, squeezed between the Lebanese border and the Golan Heights; it contains the towns of Metulla and Qiryat Shemona, the Dan and part of the Banias rivers.