Explore the Holy Land on an Israel Visit
We arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport and are met by our Israeli guide and driver as we begin our Israel visit. We leave the airport and make a stop in Jaffa. This is where the Jonah story begins, as well as the story of Peter . Both were being asked by God to go to a people outside of Israel with the Good News of God’s grace. We spend our first night in Bat Yam along the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv. We spend the 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. 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. We end the day by driving south to Beersheba for overnight. Our first stop of the day is the ancient site of Beersheba, the primary city in the Biblical Negev. Next, we drive south to Sde Boker, the site of the tomb of Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. 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 (not included), we drive to the archaeological site of Arad, a Canaanite and later Israelite city where Josiah enacted his reforms. We end the day 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.
Floating in the Dead Sea
Following breakfast, we approach the famous site of Masada from the west. Uniquely, we walk up the Roman ramp. 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. Further north is Qumran, the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. At the site, we see first century miqvot, a scriptorium, and cisterns. We end the day by floating in the Dead Sea. We drive to the northern tip of the Dead Sea and stay at Al Mog, a Jewish kibbutz. We begin the day of our Israel Visit nearby Jericho. We then drive to the newly-uncovered site of Shiloh. We then drive through the hill country of Samaria, talking about the stories that occurred here at nearby Bethel, Shechem, and Sychar. The next site of our Israel visit is Beth Shean, a massive Roman city. We drive north to the Sea of Galilee area to Tiberias where we will spend the next four nights. We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain NW of the Sea of Galilee. From here we drive to Magdala to see another ancient synagogue that dates to the time of Christ. 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. Next, we travel to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy an optional baptism in the Jordan River at Yardenit.
Remember To: Bring a towel if you intend to ride a camel.
Viewing the City of Nazareth
We begin the day by driving into the Golan Heights. Our first stop 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. Driving to the border, we next visit Bental, an old Israeli military site. Following lunch at a Druze restaurant (not included), we descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. We drive back to our hotel in Tiberias. Today is a mid-tour “reflection day.” We will have intentional times of group discussion and silent meditation. Our focus for the day 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. This morning we head towards the Lower Galilee. We first view the city of Nazareth from the “precipice” from which Jesus was almost thrown. We talk about Mt. Tabor and the Hill of Moreh among other stories. We continue our Israel visit into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, which gave its name to Armageddon. Winding our way through the Mt. Carmel range, we visit Muhraqa, where we read the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Our last site is Caesarea Maritima, to view part of the city initially built by Herod the Great. We visit the theater, palace area, and aqueduct. 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.
Walking Through 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. 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 end this day of our Israel visit by touring the Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem. We will also stop at an olive wood factory and store. We begin the day by entering the Old City and walk 400 yards through the Western Wall Tunnel along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. From here we visit the Jewish Quarter and see the Cardo. In the afternoon, we drive to West Jerusalem where we visit the Israel Museum and the spectacular Jerusalem Model of the Second Temple Period. We end the day by visiting Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Memorial. This morning begins with a visit to the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. 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. After lunch in the Jewish Quarter (not included), 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 return to the hotel for our farewell dinner!