Holy Land Bible Tour
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport for our bible tour, here we meet our local Israeli representative who assists us with baggage and transfers us to our motor coach. 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, built 2000 years ago by King Herod. Our bible tour will take us on a 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. Across the Jezreel Valley is the precipice of Nazareth. We will then through Cana, and finally arrive at the outskirts of Tiberias. We arrive at our “kibbutz-hotel” located right on the Sea of Galilee shoreline. After dinner, we enjoy sitting together for a time of fellowship and worship. We begin the bible tour today 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 location where the Feeding of the 5,000 took place. Our next site on the bible tour 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 along the northern border, we will stop and look into southern Syria. Next, we drive past Mt. Hermon and descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. 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. After dinner, we meet down by the water’s edge once again to review the day.
Experiencing the Sea of Galilee
We begin our bible tour today by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. 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). Driving south to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, we arrive at Yardenit. You will have the opportunity to reaffirm your baptism in the waters of the Jordan River. From here we drive to Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. Here we will see another 1st century synagogue. Jesus must have taught from here! Among the other ruins are ritual baths. After lunch we visit Chorazim. Here we see the basaltic ruins of this city, including a synagogue dating to the 3rd century AD. Close by on the water’s edge is Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. It was in this area where Jesus called His first disciples. Close by 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. We end the day by reading from Matthew 5 on the Mount of Beatitudes. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. We begin the bible tour today by driving south to the Jordan Valley to the site of Beth Shean. Driving south along the Jordan Valley and then turning west into the area of Samaria, we visit the rather new excavations of Shiloh. This is where the Tabernacle once stood. Here we see impressive archaeological ruins dating to the days of Samuel. Driving past Bethel and through the Desert of Pareth, our next stop is Jericho. After a late lunch here, we climb the tel (ancient mound) to see portions of the fortification wall that supported the mud-brick walls that “came tumblin’ down”. From here on the bible tour we drive to the southern end of the Dead Sea to our hotel. Prior to dinner, you will have a chance to float in the salt and mineral-rich waters of this unique body of water!
Dead Sea and Masada
This morning we begin our drive along the coastline of the Dead Sea to Masada. Here we take a cable car ride 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 bible tour will then take us to Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul, and we enjoy a walk to some of the waterfalls in the canyon. Finally, we visit Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over the lunch hour, you will have the opportunity to explore the famous Cave 1 where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. En route to Jerusalem, we end the day with a brief stop at Wadi Qelt. Here we hear the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23 in the context of the Judea Desert. From here we drive the rest of the way to Jerusalem for overnight. After checking in our hotel and dinner, an optional walk to the Western Wall will take place.We get our first glimpse of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, beholding a breath-taking 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. Next we visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then see the fascinating Israel Museum and the model of Jerusalem. We end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We begin the day in Bethlehem at the Shepherd’s Fields and an olive wood factory and store. From here we drive west to the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. We begin by driving to Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians . Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. Next, we travel to Tel Kh. Qeiyafa and see where David fought Goliath. From here, we drive to Beth Shemesh and the Sorek Valley. It was here where the Ark of the Covenant was returned by the Philistines. We end the day at Gezer and the Aijalon Valley. Here we see ruins from Solomon’s day and beyond. We drive back to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. We begin the next day 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, and we transfer to the airport for our return night home at the end of our Bible tour.
Optional Jordan Extension
We drive south to the Allenby Bridge and cross the border into Jordan to continue our Bible tour. We drive to Mt. Nebo to stand where Moses viewed the Holy Land. We continue to Macherus, one of Herod’s palace-fortresses. Afterwards, 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 the day within this red-rose ancient city. A walk through the Siq, the main entrance to Petra, brings us to the first monument “The Treasury” a dramatic site. A walk further down through the outer siq with all of its tombs and burial chamber brings us to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. 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 a Bedouin Village. Following breakfast, we leave Wadi Rum and drive to the southern border to cross back into Israel. We make a brief stop to see the coral reefs of the Red Sea. We will have a chance to swim in these crystal-clear waters. From here we drive north through the Aravah to Timnah. In ancient days, this was a copper mine of the Egyptians and also walk through a full-size replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle. We then drive back to the Tel Aviv area through the Machtesh Ramon, Israel’s “Grand Canyon.” We also drive through the Desert of Zin where the 12 spies explored the land. Back in the Tel Aviv area we have dinner before arriving at the airport for our night flight home at the end of our Bible tour.