Experience a Holy Land Tour
We begin our Holy Land Tour in Tel Aviv where we are met by our Israeli guide and driver and head to Jaffa. This is where the Jonah story begins, as well as the story of Peter . We spend our first night in Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean Sea. We will spend the next day in the Shephelah of Judah. We begin by driving to Gezer. Here we see ruins from Solomon’s day and beyond. The famous “Gezer calendar” was found here. From here, we drive to Beth Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned. Next, we travel to Azekah and see where David fought Goliath. Continuing south, we visit the Maresha Caves in Beit Guvrin with hundreds of bell-shaped caves caused by ancient Roman quarrying also the home of Micah. Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians. We end the day by driving south to Beersheba for overnight and discussion after dinner. Our first stop of the day is the ancient site of Beersheba, the primary city in the Biblical Negev. We see the well and gate structure, the rounded streets, and a typical four room Israelite house. Next, we drive south to Sde Boker, the site of the tomb of Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. Here we learn about the history of the State of Israel. Next, we enjoy hiking in the majestic canyon of the Wilderness of Zin and we have the option to hike all the way to the opposite rim of the canyon. After lunch at Avdat, we drive to the archaeological site of Arad, a Canaanite and later Israelite city where Josiah enacted his reforms. We end the day of our Holy Land tour by driving into the Judean Desert and we spend the night at Kfar Hanokdim. Here we experience the uniqueness of desert life, even a camel ride. Accommodations include “Bedouin tent” dwellings. Following dinner on our Holy Land tour, we enjoy a time of worship under the stars. After breakfast, we approach the famous site of Masada from the west. Uniquely, we walk up the Roman ramp. Those who don’t wish to climb will be driven around to the eastern side, a 1.5 hour ride, and ascend to the top in the cable car. While you wait for the group to finish the guided tour, you will be fascinated with the view. Leaving the site, we have the option of walking down the Snake Path, while others ride the cable car down. Next, we drive north along the Dead Sea to Ein Gedi, where we relive the story of David hiding in a cave from King Saul. We have a chance to hike into the valley, enjoying the waterfalls as well as soaking our feet in the cool waters. Further north is Qumran, the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those who want to can spend time hiking near some of the caves where the scrolls were discovered. We end the day of our Holy Land tour by floating in the Dead Sea. We drive to the northern tip of the Dead Sea and stay at Al Mog, a Jewish kibbutz. After dinner, we meet to review the day’s encounters.
Journey to the Sea of Galilee
We begin the Holy Land tour today at nearby Jericho. Here we see the portion of the actual revetment wall dating to the time of Joshua. Our next site is Beth Shean, a massive Roman city. This is where the body of Saul was hung on the city walls, but in the days of Jesus, it was a large Roman city. We view the city of Nazareth from the “precipice” from which Jesus was almost thrown. We continue into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, which gave its name to Armageddon. We drive north to the Sea of Galilee area to Tiberias where we will spend the next four nights. Following dinner, we meet on the quiet shoreline to review the day. We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain NW of the Sea of Galilee. An option will be given to hike to the top of this 800-foot cliff (the bus will take others to the top from the other side). From here we drive to Magdala to see another ancient synagogue that dates to the time of Christ. Mary “Magdalene” was also from here . Located also on this corner of the Sea of Galilee is Chorizim, one of the three cities condemned by Jesus. We see the basaltic ruins and synagogue which dates to the 2nd-3rd centuries. Capernaum is next, the home center of ministry for Jesus in Galilee. In the afternoon, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service together. Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found here along the shores of Galilee in 1986. Next, we travel to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy an optional baptism in the Jordan River at Yardenit. We begin the following day by driving into the Golan Heights. Stopping on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, we are able to see the area of Bethsaida and the area of the Feeding of the 5,000. Our first stop is Gamla. Here we see a first century synagogue, as well as the ruins of the city, called the “Masada of the north.” Close by is the site of Qatzrin, a partially reconstructed Talmudic village. We see what a typical village looked like during the days of Jesus. We next visit Bental, an old Israeli military site. Here we learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Next, we descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. We walk through this quiet national park and impressive Old Testament city and hear the stories of disobedience that took place here. We drive back to our hotel in Tiberias. After dinner, we again meet together to review the day. Today on our Holy Land tour, we will have a mid-tour “reflection day.” We will have intentional times of group discussion and silent meditation. Our focus for today for our Holy Land tour is the teaching of Jesus from Mathew 5-7. Our only destination today is the Mt. of Beatitudes. We return to our hotel for dinner and another gathering out by the water.
Jerusalem the Holy City
This morning we depart the Galilee and head towards Jerusalem. Winding our way through the Mt. Carmel range our Holy Land tour will take us on a visit toMuhraqa, where we read the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Our next site is Caesarea Maritima, to view part of the city initially built by Herod the Great. We visit the theater, palace area, and aqueduct. We then drive to the newly-uncovered site of Shiloh. Here we revisit the stories of Eli and Samuel and the Ark and see where the Tabernacle once stood. We then drive through the hill country of Samaria, talking about the stories that occurred here at nearby Bethel, Shechem, and Sychar from here we drive to Jerusalem. After checking in to the hotel and dinner, we enjoy an “orientation walk” to the Western Wall within the Old City.We start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday Road to the church known as the Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”). We stop to read the passages related to this area. After viewing the Golden Gate, we walk downhill to Gethsemane, where we take time to meditate on the Gospel text. From here we enter the Old City where we first visit the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period with remarkable acoustics. We then walk the Via Dolorosa to the Holy Sepulcher, one of two possible locations for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. In the afternoon we visit Herodium, located on the edge of the Judean Desert, where Herod the Great was buried. We see the brand new excavations related to Herod’s tomb! We end the day by visiting the Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem. We step into a cave and read from Luke 2 as well as sing a few Christmas carols. We will also stop at an olive wood factory and store. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and another walk around the city.We begin our Holy Land tour today by entering the Old City and walk 400 yards through the Western Wall Tunnel along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. Then we visit to the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to can take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. We then sit on the steps of the Siloam Pool and listen to the story of the blind man healed by Jesus. From here we walk to the southern Temple excavations through a 1,300 foot newly-discovered Herodian drainage tunnel. We exit at the southwest corner of the Temple and the southern steps. We see the massive stones erected by King Herod and sit on the very steps used by Jesus and His disciples. From here we visit the Jewish Quarter and see the Cardo. We also visit Shoreshim where we hear Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, talk about his faith. In the Jewish Quarter, we visit the Burnt House, a house destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. We end the day by visiting Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Memorial. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. Tonight is a free night to explore the city on your own. In the morning, we drive to West Jerusalem where we visit the Israel Museum where Dr. DeLancey will take us around the archaeological display, seeing the highlighted artifacts from sites we visited. In the afternoon we enjoy a few hours of free time. We end the day with a Communion Service at the Garden Tomb, a second possible site for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Following this meaningful service, we proceed to a restaurant for our farewell dinner! We then load the bus and drive to the airport for the overnight flight home.