Experiencing a Israel trip
We begin our Israel trip at the Ben Gurion Airport where we will meet our guide and drive to Jaffa. Later we arrive at our hotel near the Mediterranean Sea in the Tel Aviv area. Following dinner, you will have the opportunity to walk on the beautiful beach front. We begin our day by driving to Gezer where we will see ruins from Solomon’s day and beyond. From here, we stop briefly at Beit Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned. Next, we travel to the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath. Following lunch, we visit Beit Gurvin to see the Maresha Caves with hundreds of bell-shaped caves caused by ancient Roman quarrying. Continuing through the “Shephelah” (lowlands) of Judah. Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. Traveling south, we drive to our hotel in Be’er Sheva in the heart of the Biblical Negev. We enjoy an optional walk after dinner. After breakfast, we visit Be’er Sheva with the well and gate structure, the rounded streets, and a typical 4-room Israelite house. From here, we drive through this southern desert to Ben Gurion’s tomb located at Sde Boker in the region of the Wilderness of Zin. We drive further south through this desert to Machtesh Ramon, Israel’s Grand Canyon. As we continue driving, we visit Timnah. Our Israel trip will take us to Elat where the beautiful Red Sea is located. We cross the Taba Border into Sinai, Egypt. After meeting our Egyptian bus and agent, we drive to Taba Heights for overnight. Today on our Israel trip you will be given one of two options. The first option for this Israel trip is to enjoy a leisurely morning by the Red Sea. The second is to leave around 11 p.m. (the evening of Day 4) for the two hour drive to St. Catherine’s. Upon arriving, the night hike to the top of this 7,300 foot mountain will begin. You can either hike the entire way or take a camel ride two-thirds to the top. The hikers will then descend down the mountain and drive back to the Taba Heights hotel, arriving by mid-late morning. You will have time to enjoy the Red Sea for a short time before loading the bus for the drive back to the Israel border in the early afternoon. After crossing the border, we will drive north through the Rift Valley to the Dead Sea. In Ein Bokek, we will check into our hotel and prior to dinner, you will have the chance to float in the Dead Sea.
Exploring Jericho and the Sea of Galilee
We begin our day at Masada. We ascend high upon the wilderness mountain by way of cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. An optional walk down the Snake Path will be offered. Our next stop is Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. Continuing north, we visit Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. During our late lunch, an option will be given to explore the famous “Cave 1” where the Isaiah scrolls were found in 1947. Following lunch, we visit the ruins of Qumran. Our last stop of the day will be Jericho where we will have dinner and overnight. Today we begin our Israel trip with a wonderful overview of the Judean Desert. At the Wadi Qelt we will listen to the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23, set within the context of the desert. We then drive through the Desert of Pareth on our way past Michmash and Bethel to Shiloh. This is where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years. It was also the place where God called Samuel. We will see some of the ruins of Shiloh and the suggested place where the Tabernacle once stood. We end the day at Beth Shean, one of Israel’s largest archaeological sites. It is here where the body of King Saul was hung on the walls of the city. This was also a massive Roman city located along the edge of the Jordan Valley. We will see the Roman street, bathhouse, and theater among many other things. We then drive north to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee to our hotel for the next three nights. We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. We have the option 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. Next is another New Testament city, Chorazim. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus. Then we continue to Capernaum on our Israel trip, this is the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. We read from Mark 1 and 2 in the 4th-5th century synagogue. Next, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century. Next, we travel to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy optional baptism in the Jordan River at Yardenit. We end the day on the Mount of Beatitudes. We walk down the pathway, recollecting the transforming words of Jesus shared in this place. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. We begin the day by driving into the Golan Heights. Stopping on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, we are able to see Bethsaida and the area of the Feeding of the 5,000. Then our next site is Gamla. Close by is the site of Qatzrin, a partially reconstructed Talmudic village. Sitting in a reconstructed stone house. Driving along the northern border, we will look across the border with Syria to learn about the modern wars of Israel. In the afternoon, we will enjoy riding the ski lift to the top of Mt. Hermon with the option to hike down the path back to the ski lodge. Next, we descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi, nearby is the 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. Our Israel trip will take us back through the Huleh Valley to our hotel in Tiberias.
Jerusalem and Bethlehem
This morning on our Israel trip we head toward Nazareth where we view the city from the “precipice” from which Jesus was almost thrown. We continue into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, which gave its name to Armageddon. Next on our Israel trip we ascend Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. We then drive toward Caesarea on the coast. We enter Caesarea Maritima to explore this Roman bridgehead to the east. We arrive at our hotel in Jerusalem and enjoy dinner and an optional “orientation walk” of the Old City. We start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday route to the church known as the Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”). After viewing the Golden Gate, we walk downhill to Gethsemane, where we take time to meditate on the Gospels. From here we enter the Old City, where we will visit the Pool of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) to the Holy Sepulcher. In the afternoon, we visit Herodium, located on the edge of the Judean Desert where Herod the Great was buried. We end our Israel trip today by driving into Bethlehem. We visit the Shepherds’ Field. The day ends with shopping at an olive wood store. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. We begin the day by entering the Old City and visit the famous Western (Wailing) Wall, the most holy place in Judaism. After some time for personal prayer and reflection, we walk 400 yards along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. We then return to the Jewish Quarter for a visit to see the Burnt House. Following this, we will visit Moshe, an Orthodox Jew to listen to him talk about his Jewish faith. In the afternoon, we see the fascinating Israel Museum and the model of Jerusalem. Here, we explore some of the artifacts in the archaeological museum. We end the Israel trip today with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We see the Children’s Memorial as well as walk through the museum on our own. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. We begin the day by visiting the Garden Tomb. We also enjoy a quiet Communion Service together. First, we visit 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 John 9. From here, we are given the option to walk up through a Herodian drainage channel that takes us to “Robinson’s Arch” and the southern wall excavations. We walk on a Roman street and ascend the Temple steps. We ascend to the Jewish Quarter where we enjoy free time on our own. We enjoy a Farewell Dinner followed by a transfer to the airport for our return flight home. Today we arrive back in the U.S.A. and after proceeding through customs, we make our connecting flights back home with the memories of our Israel trip.