Early Ministry of Jesus in Galilee
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, we take a short drive to our hotel in Netanya for dinner and overnight beside the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. On the way, we make a brief stop in Jaffa, the home of the Jonah and Peter’s stories. After an abundant breakfast buffet, we journey north along the coast to Caesarea, where we walk through the ancient theater, the Crusader city and the fantastic aqueduct that served as a back drop for the book of Acts. From here we depart to Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Then we proceed to Megiddo and across the Jezreel Valley to the precipice of Nazareth as we read about Jesus’ ministry in this area. We then drive through Cana and finally arrive at the outskirts of Tiberias. Here our “kibbutz-hotel” is located right on the Sea of Galilee shoreline. We begin the next day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Here we will 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). Next, we travel to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy optional baptism in the Jordan River at Yardenit. From here we will drive to Magdala where we see a first century synagogue from the time of Jesus. After lunch we will visit Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. Next, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service. Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found here along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We end the day by reading from Matthew 5 on the Mount of Beatitudes. In the morning we begin 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, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s A.D. 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. Driving along the northern border, we will stop and look into southern Syria. Here we learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Next, we drive past Mt. Hermon and descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. It was here Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan, one of the sources of the Jordan River. We walk through this quiet national park and hear the stories of disobedience that took place here. We end the day by driving back through the Huleh Valley to our hotel in Tiberias.
Discover Israel’s Southern Jordan Valley
We begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley to the site of Beth Shean, an impressive Roman city of the Decapolis. We will then head southwest into the area of Samaria, where we visit the rather new excavations of Shiloh where the Tabernacle once stood. Here we see impressive archaeological ruins dating to the days of Samuel. Our next stop is Jericho (conditions permitting) to see portions of the fortification wall that supported the mud- brick walls that “came tumblin’ down”. We end the day with a drive to our hotel at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Prior to breakfast, we enjoy a “float” in the Dead Sea. Afterwards, we begin driving northward to Masada. Here we ascend high upon the wilderness mountain by way of cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. We survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. An optional walk down the Snake Path will be offered. Our next stop is Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. Here we will enjoy a walk to the waterfalls. Finally, we visit Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Next, we ascend to Jerusalem. As time permits, we will make a quick stop to enjoy an overview of the Wadi Qelt and the Judean Wilderness.
Did You Know? Mount Arbel is a mountain near Tiberias, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue.
Walk Through Jerusalem
Upon arrival in Jerusalem we have dinner and optional walk to the Western Wall. We get our first glimpse of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, beholding a breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. We walk down the “Palm Sunday” route to the Garden of Gethsemane. Next, we enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Lion’s Gate (St. Stephens) and visit the Pools of Bethesda. We also enjoy some marvelous singing in St. Anne’s church from the Crusader period. Our walk continues along the Via Dolorosa to the Sisters of Zion Convent, Ecce Homo Arch, and then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the afternoon, we will visit Herodium located on the edge of the Judean Desert where Herod the Great was buried. We end the day by driving to Bethlehem. Here we will visit the Shepherds’ fields and end the day with shopping at an olive wood store. We drive back to our hotel for dinner and another optional walk. The next day begins in the Old City and we 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. Upon completing this unique walk, we return to the Jewish Quarter for a unique visit to the Temple Institute. Here, we will see some of the preparations being made for the Third Temple. Following this, we visit Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, to talk about his Jewish faith. In the afternoon, we see the fascinating Israel Museum and the model of Jerusalem (1:50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Here we also explore some of the artifacts in the archaeological museum. We end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We see the Children’s Memorial and walk through the museum on our own. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and a free evening to allow you to explore or relax. We begin the next morning by visiting the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to will take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long). We then sit on the steps of the Siloam Pool and listen to the story of John 9. From here, we walk up through an exposed 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. Our day ends at the Garden Tomb for Communion. The next day we drive from Jerusalem to the Shephelah (Lowlands) of Judah. We begin in Gezer where we will see ruins from Solomon’s day and beyond. Also, 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 Qeiyafa and the Elah Valley and see where David fought Goliath. As we listen to the story we see how this famous battle took place! Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians. Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. Those returning home will transfer to the airport for our overnight flight home. Those going on the extension will return to the hotel for overnight.
Optional Jordan Extension
We begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley the Allenby Bridge. Here we make the crossing from Israel to Jordan and drive to Bethany Beyond the Jordan. This is where Jesus was baptized. Then we climb 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. We continue to Machaerus, one of Herod’s palace-fortresses. It was here where John the Baptist was beheaded. Time permitting we will visit Madaba to see a sixth century Byzantine mosaic map in the church of St. George. In the late afternoon, we drive south down the Desert Highway to Petra, where we spend the night. We arrive the next morning at the entrance of Petra and spend most of the day within this red-rose ancient city. We are in the heart of the Seir Mountains, Land of the Edomites, mentioned in the Bible in Genesis. These mountains 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. This well-preserved monumental tomb appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” A walk further down through the outer siq with all of its tombs and burial chambers 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. Apparently some sacrificial rituals had taken place here. 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 to 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. Here we enjoy an amazing jeep ride in the desert. We then stay in Wadi Rum at Captain’s, a Bedouin Village. We enjoy dinner together and a devotional time under the stars. Following breakfast, we leave Wadi Rum and drive to the southern border to cross back into Israel, where we will be taken to Coral Beach. You will have the opportunity to swim in the Red Sea. Next, we drive north through the Aravah and the MaKhtesh Ramon, Israel’s “grand canyon.” We also pass by the Zin Wilderness. Our last site to visit will be Tel Beersheba (Genesis 21). All the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) were here. We will also see ruins from the days of Solomon. We then drive to the Tel Aviv area for dinner before driving to the airport for our night flight home.