The Galilee Area
We arrive in Tel Aviv and have a short drive to our hotel in the Tel Aviv area in time for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we journey north along the coast to Caesarea Maritima. We walk through the ancient theater, the Crusader City and the amazing aqueduct. From here we depart to Mt Carmel, the site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Then we proceed to Megiddo/Jezreel Valley where we will view the final battlefield according to Revelation. Then we continue on to Nazareth where we will visit the “Nazareth Village” to experience what life was like during the time of Jesus. Leaving the village, we drive through Cana, where Jesus turned the water in wine, and finally arrive at Tiberias for dinner and overnight near the Sea of Galilee. After breakfast we head north to the Golan Heights for a beautiful view of northern Israel’s landscape. Then we head to Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. From here we travel to Tabgha, the traditional location for the calling of the disciples. In John 21, Jesus met here again with the disciples for the “last breakfast.” Here he restored Peter publicly to Himself. Tabgha is also the traditional site of the feeding of the 5000 and the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. We then spend time reflecting and worshiping at the Mt. of Beatitudes before heading to Capernaum. We will have the opportunity to visit the synagogue, the ruins of which now stand in Capernaum. For those interested, our lunch stop includes the option of ordering the special St. Peter’s Fish at the lake side restaurant and Blue Beach. Afterwards, we board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” to set sail on the Sea of Galilee. After lunch & our sail, our motor coach takes us to Kursi (Gadara), where Jesus sent “Legion, for we are many” into the herd of pigs as they rushed down the mountain side and into the Sea. Our last stop for today is at the Jordan River where those who wish can participate in water baptism. Our dinner and overnight are back in Tiberias.
Travel Through Jordan
We begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley where we will have a short walk/hike to Tel Dan where we will see the gate of Jeroboam and Gideon Springs, the water source where God sifted out the warriors in Gideon’s army. Next, our bus takes us to Beit Shean, an impressive Roman city of the Decapolis, which has been beautifully excavated. This was where Saul’s body was hung from the city wall. Time and conditions permitting, we will stop by the Cave of Adullam, where David hid from King Saul. We continue our adventure and cross the northern border into the country of Jordan. After border formalities, we drive to the largest of the Decapolis cities, Jerash. The Jerash ruins of Jordan are said to be the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. The city is positioned in Jordan’s countryside of fertile rolling hills and valleys filled with olive trees, plum trees, fig trees, pine forests and wheat crops. Then we travel to Mt. Nebo to stand where Moses stood and viewed the Holy Land. Here you can take in a breathtaking view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the roof tops of Jerusalem! We continue to Medeba dubbed the “City of Mosaics” due to the vivid sixth century Byzantine mosaic map in the church of St. George. From Medeba, we drive down the Desert Highway to Petra, where we will spend the night. The next morning we arrive at the entrance of Petra and spend the entire day within this rose-red ancient city. We are in the heart of the Seir Mountains which house the Aaron Peak, the highest in Petra and the burial place of Moses’ brother Aaron. A walk through the Siq, the main entrance to Petra, brings us to the first monument “The Treasury” “Al-Khazneh” a dramatic site. A walk further down through the outer Siq with all of its tombs and burial chamber brings us to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. A 3000-seat theater from the early first century is carved in the sandstone mountains, at the bottom of the High Place of Sacrifice Mountain. From here we walk uphill to the Royal Tombs for a great view of the lower part of Petra with all its Roman remains. There will be the option of walk to the “Monastery” of Petra and/or the High Place. Leaving the site of Petra in mid-afternoon, we drive south to Wadi Rum. Wadi-Rum is a protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan that features dramatic sandstone mountains and natural arches. We enjoy an amazing Jeep ride in the desert to see many prehistoric inscriptions and carvings which line the rocky caverns and steep chasms. Then we stay in Wadi Rum at Captain’s, a Bedouin Village and we “camp” in our own rustic sheep skin tents! We enjoy dinner together and a devotional time under the stars!
Masada and Judean Desert
Following breakfast, we leave Wadi Rum and drive to the southern border to cross back into Israel. We stop to see the coral reefs of the Red Sea and have a chance to swim in these crystal-clear waters. Afterwards, we will stop at Eilat. From here we drive north through the Aravah (Rift Valley) to Timnah. We also walk through a full-size replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle. Continuing north, we drive to Ein Bokek on the shores of the Dead Sea. We check into our hotel and have a chance to float in the Dead Sea. Following dinner, we enjoy a free evening. After another wonderful breakfast, we drive to Qumran, the settlement of the Essenes. They were the first century sect who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls. From here, we head to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. We then travel south along the western shore of the Dead Sea toward Masada where we ascend by cable car up to King Herod’s astonishing fortress. If you choose to, you can opt out of the “cable car” ride and go on foot! It takes between 60-90 minutes to climb and 30-40 minutes to descend (if you are in shape!!). Afterwards, we will include a visit to Qasr El-Yahud, the newly excavated site where tradition holds that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and where the Israelites crossed over into their Promised Land. From here we travel to Jericho to see portions of the wall of this city that was destroyed by Joshua as well as Zacchaeus’ sycamore fig tree. Then we return to our hotel in the Dead Sea for dinner and overnight.
We begin our day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives. Our pilgrimage proceeds down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the ancient olive grove at the Garden of Gethsemane. Then we continue on to the Church of Agony where tradition says Jesus prayed before His arrest. We enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and proceed to the Western (Wailing) Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, where we will visit the Rabbinical Tunnels. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David, which is called the Temple Mount. This area now houses both the El-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate to walk the Via Dolorosa – including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch (behold the man), and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and a short walk to the original steps (the Southern Steps) that Jesus climbed as He entered the Temple area. Afterwards, we will visit the Upper Room where the church was filled with the Holy Spirit and where we will share moments of worship and devotion. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. We begin our day with a drive to Beit Guvrin/Tel Maresha. It is there that we will have the unique opportunity to take part in an actual archaeological dig. We will learn about archaeological work in Israel and have the chance to spend time in each of the primary stages of the dig. While in the area, we will also visit the Valley of Elah, the site of the battle between David and Goliath. In the afternoon, we travel to Bethlehem. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and then visit the area in which Jesus was born. It has been preserved by the Church of the Nativity. From there we will be stopping at the Shepherds’ Field. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight along with personal ministry opportunity. In the morning we drive to the City of David and go on a short walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and water shoes to walk through the tunnel. Anyone wanting to stay dry can walk through Hezekiah’s shaft. We will visit the newly excavated Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man. Afterwards, we visit the Tower of David Museum to see this citadel. Then we head over to the Mahane Yehuda Market for some shopping and tasting of all the amazing food that comes out of Israel! We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Following breakfast, we visit Herodium. Located on the edge of the Judean Desert, Herodium was a fortress for Herod to quickly flee to from Jerusalem and a luxurious palace for his enjoyment. We visit the Shrine of the Book Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the fascinating 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Then we visit St. Peter of Gallicantu, one of the most striking churches in Jerusalem that commemorates the Apostle Peter’s triple denial of his Master, his immediate repentance, and his reconciliation with Christ after the Resurrection. Under the church is a dungeon thought to be the cell where Jesus was detained for the night following his arrest. We end our day in worship at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb, sharing communion together. Dinner and overnight are in our Jerusalem hotel. In the morning, we will have some free time. Our group will meet together, and we will walk on the Old City rampart walls! We will then enjoy a visit to Shorashim in the Jewish Quarter for a conversation with Moshe and Dov, Orthodox Jews who will talk about their Jewish faith. We drive to Neot Kedumim where we have the opportunity to put “roots in the land of Israel” as we plant a tree with a ceremony to follow. We will make a stop in Jaffa, an amazing sea side village with a history that goes back to Ancient Greek mythology and it was the home of the Jonah and Peter stories. We proceed to our restaurant for a special Farewell Dinner and then transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for our flight back to the USA.