Going to Israel Brings Scripture Alive
This morning, we depart for the Galilee to visit Biblical sites at Caesarea Maritima, where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion. We also see Megiddo and Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal. Time permitting, we will stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break (not included). Then, we continue on to Nazareth, Cana and the Mt. of Precipice. We then arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight near the Sea of Galilee. Nothing compares to watching the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee! We begin today at Tabgha and the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. We then spend time reflecting and worshiping at the Mt. of Beatitudes and then head to Capernaum, Jesus’ base for His early ministry. Afterwards, we board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” to set sail on the Sea of Galilee. For those interested, our lunch stop includes the option of ordering the special St. Peter’s Fish (not included). After lunch, we head to Gadara and Bethsaida (time permitting) before making our way to the Jordan River. Dinner and overnight are back in Tiberias. After breakfast, we travel north to the Golan Heights for a beautiful view of northern Israel’s landscape. Then, we head to Caesarea Philippi. We embark on a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam before heading to Gideon Springs. Next, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung from the city walls after being defeated by the Philistines. Finally, we ascend to the majestic city of Jerusalem in time for dinner and overnight.
Walking Down Old Palm Sunday Road
After 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. Afterwards, we make a special stop at the Dead Sea for a short swim or float. Time and conditions permitting, we’ll include a visit to Qasr El-Yahud, the newly excavated site where tradition holds that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. If possible, we will also include a short visit to Jericho. Dinner and overnight are again in Jerusalem. We begin today on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the famous, breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. 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 the Agony where tradition says Jesus prayed before his arrest. We enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and proceed to the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David, which is called the Temple Mount. This area is the third holiest shrine in Islam, housing both the El-Aqsa Mosque and the magnificent 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, Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and then conclude our day with a short walk to the original steps that Jesus climbed as he entered the Temple area. We finish off our sightseeing with a visit to Bethlehem as we pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and then visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherds’ Field. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Exploring Newly Excavated Sites
After breakfast, 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. Next, we drive to the City of David, and then we go on a short walk to 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. If time permits, we will visit the newly excavated Pool of Siloam and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. We end our day in worship at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. In the morning, we have leisure time in Jerusalem and then we depart the city late morning/early afternoon for the Elah Valley to see the brook where David slew Goliath. From here, we continue our drive to Jaffa for a special Farewell Dinner. We then transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for our flight back to the U.S.A. Those taking the extension will return to the hotel for overnight.
Optional Egypt Extension
This morning, we meet in the hotel lobby by 2:00 a.m. to start our day by climbing Moussa Mountain with our local guide. On the southern end of the collection of peaks, is Mount Moussa, biblically considered to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Climbing the mountain takes about 3 hours on foot following the Path of Moses – a stairway of nearly 4,000 steps – to arrive at the peak for the wonderful view of the sunrise. After enjoying the sunrise, we visit St. Catherine’s Monastery, located at the foot of the mountain. The monastery is built around what is thought to be Moses’ Burning Bush and is a spectacular natural setting for priceless works of art. We then transfer to Sharm El Sheikh airport for our short flight to Cairo. Upon arrival in Cairo, we transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we venture to visit some of Egypt’s oldest sites, and enjoy a camel ride. We first visit the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest and is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks. We enter this pyramid and visit the King’s Chamber. Nearby, we visit the Solar Boat Museum, to see an ancient Egyptian cedar wood boat dating back 4,500 years. We also visit the Great Sphinx. Then, we visit the Necropolis of Sakkara, to see King Zoser’s Step Pyramid. This vast site in the heart of the desert plateau is the largest necropolis in Egypt. We end in Memphis, to see the limestone Colossus of Ramses II. Here the remnants of the nation’s first capital and once the most cosmopolitan city in Egypt now lie scattered in the desert. Dinner and overnight are in Cairo. After breakfast, we enjoy a special tour of the Museum of Antiquities. The museum houses the greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures in the world, including the expansive Tutankhamen collection of golden treasures. We continue to visit the Citadel. Inside, we see the lavishly decorated Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali. We continue to the famous Suspended Church, dating back to the late fourth and early fifth centuries. We then visit the Church of St. Sergius, a fifth-century Coptic church built in the cave where the Holy Family stayed. We come to the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, where Moses was saved by Pharaoh’s water girl. Finally today, we stroll through the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, a bustling warren of shops where you can bargain for rugs, copper or leather crafts, and much more. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.