We arrive in Tel Aviv and travel to Netanya for dinner and overnight. We begin our sightseeing tour with a visit to Caesarea, the seat of the Roman Procurator of Judea in the time of Christ. It is also the city where Peter came to convert Cornelius after the vision at the house of Simon the Tanner. We will explore the Roman Theater, the aqueduct, and the ruins of Roman, Byzantine and Crusader times. and drive to Megiddo, the fortress city of King Solomon– which was later built upon by King Ahab. The books of Daniel and Revelation will come alive as we study about the final Battle of Armageddon and view the Plains of Jezreel. We continue our drive to Tiberius for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we start the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and visit the Ancient Boat believed to be from Jesus’ time at Kibbutz Ginosar. Next, we leave the Sea of Galilee and drive to Capernaum, the town that Jesus called home after leaving Nazareth. Capernaum is also the place where Jesus recruited the first disciples. Then we head to the excavation of the Ancient Synagogue and the house of St. Peter. We will also visit the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. We will make our way to the Church of the Multiplication where Jesus fed the five thousand. Afterwards, we’ll journey to Bethsaida, which is frequently mentioned in the New Testament. At least three (Peter, Andrew, Philip) of the apostles were born there. It is now believed the Iron Age Bethsaida was the capital of the Kingdom of Geshur, notable in the Hebrew Bible for King David’s marriage to Ma’achah, the princess of Geshur. Next, we will head to Korazim. We will make our way to the Jordan River for an opportunity to be baptized at this special place. Dinner and overnight will be in Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). After breakfast, we’ll drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God”. We will have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan and the gate of Jeroboam. Then we will visit Ein Harod, the site of Judge Gideon and drive to Beit Shean. Recent excavations there have disclosed the impressive ruins of the country’s largest city in the Roman and Byzantine periods, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 CE. We continue our drive to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Did You Know? The Bell caves are a series of 80 large caves connected by passageways from the early Arabian period.
Jerusalem & the Judean Desert
Today we will ascend the Mount of Olives for a breathtaking, panoramic view of the old city of Jerusalem. We will walk along the Palm Sunday Way and descend to the Garden of Gethsemane , where Jesus spent the last night before he was arrested. Next, we will visit the Church of All the Nations and walk along the “last Way” to Mt. Zion. Then we will make our way to St. Anne’s Church, which is a fine example of Crusader architecture, and the Pools of Bethesda. We will then walk the Via Dolorosa which will lead us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Next, we walk through the Jewish Quarter to Mount Zion and visit the Last Supper room (Matthew 26: 17-25) and King David’s Tomb. We will end the day with a visit to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas, and visit the church of Peter in Gallicantu. This is the place where Peter denied the Lord three times. If time permits, we will visit Bethlehem and pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts, then visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. Dinner and overnight will be in Jerusalem. We will depart our hotel for a cable car ride to Masada, the site of the most dramatic act in Jewish History. Next, we will explore the ancient excavation of Herod’s Palaces, bathhouse, the storerooms, the Ramp, and the oldest Synagogue in the world. Then we proceed to a hotel in Ein Bokek for lunch and a swim in the Dead Sea. We continue to Ein Gedi, an Oasis on the Dead Sea shore. Near the 200 meter high waterfall is a cave where David had his famous meeting with King Saul (1 Samuel 24: 1-23). The walk around the reservation confirms that Ein Gedi is one of the most beautiful reservations in the world. Then we visit Qumran, where the 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Next we drive through the Judean Desert and ascend to Jerusalem. We will pass the traditional site of the Inn of the Good Samaritan. Dinner and overnight will be in Jerusalem.
Archaeological Dig & Israel Museum
After breakfast, we will participate in an archaeological dig at Tel Maresha and Beit Guvrin. Here we will discover pottery from the time of the Maccabees. This was the site of the city in Judea fortified by King Rehoboam after the campaign of Egyptian pharaoh Shishak: “And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defense in Judah and Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph” (2 Chronicles 11:5, 8). We will visit some of the most popular spots in the Beit Guvrin National Park including the Bell caves, a series of 80 large caves connected by passageways. The ceilings of the largest caves are fifteen meters high. Crosses and Arabic inscriptions found on the cave walls point to the fact that most of the caves were dug during the early Arabian period (seventh to tenth centuries B.C.E.). We continue with a visit to the Elah Valley, “the valley of the oak or terebinth,” best known as the place where the Israelites were encamped when David fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 19). We then return to Jerusalem. (Time permitting) When we return to Jerusalem we will visit the Rabbinical tunnel. Dinner and overnight will be in Jerusalem. The next morning we will visit the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls and Bar Kokhva letters are exhibited. Next, we go to the Scale Model of Jerusalem from the time of Jesus and continue to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. Then we travel to the Garden Tomb, an ancient Jewish sepulcher which matches the New Testament description of the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Protestants sanctify this place as the burial place of Jesus. We drive to the Old Port City of Jaffa (Joppa), one of the oldest Biblical cities in the world and an important seaport since antiquity. It was from here that Jonah embarked for Tarshish and was swallowed by a great whale. It was also here that Peter stayed at the home of Simon the Tanner, raised Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead and had a vision in which he saw the door opening to evangelize to the Gentile nations. We will enjoy a Farewell Dinner and transfer to Ben Gurion airport for our flight back to the USA.