Lutheran Clergy Tour of Israel
After we arrive in Tel Aviv, we proceed through customs and security and meet our guide who then assists us to our motor coach. If we have an early arrival, we will visit two Biblical sites on our way to Jerusalem. As time allows, we stop at Beth Shemesh, and then the Valley of Elah. We then transfer to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western Wall of Herod’s temple to walk through the Rabbinical Tunnels. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David. On this site now stands El -Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock. 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. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A short walk takes us to stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area. We will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. This morning, 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. Plus, we spend a brief time in the Archaeological Museum. Next, we drive to and tour the Old Testament City of David, a unique archaeological find. We also will walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and water shoes to walk through the tunnel. Those wanting to stay dry can walk through the Canaanite Tunnel. This ends with a visit to the newly excavated Pool of Siloam. Our visits continue with the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. Then, we end our day with worship and communion at the Garden Tomb. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem.
Viewing the Church of the Nativity
After breakfast, we begin our day with a drive from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region. This is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop is at the Jordan River near the site of the Israelites crossing the Jordan, Elijah ascended to heaven and Jesus was baptized. We then travel to Masada, where we take a cable car up to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, temples and palaces. Next, we drive to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. A short drive takes us to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, we follow the road north along the western shore of the Dead Sea, where we will stop for the opportunity to float or wade in this unique lake. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. Our day begins with a visit to Bethany, home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (conditions permitting). We then journey to Bethlehem for a wonderful visit to the Church of the Nativity and then to a Shepherd’s Field. We also enjoy visiting an olive wood workshop below a wonderful souvenir and gift store. Time permitting, we also will drive past Herodian, the “palace-fortress” built by King Herod, located on the edge of the Judean Desert. Herod would be buried here. Then, we return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight at our hotel. Today, we begin with a stop in the “Old Roman Road” and stop to view the Wadi Kelt and the Wilderness. We proceed to Jericho and view the Mount of Temptation and drive past the ruins of ancient, Biblical Jericho. Then, we drive north along the Jordan Valley with our first stop at Beit Shean, where the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung by the Philistines on the walls of this city. Beit Shean is one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities, and here we enjoy the ruins of the theatre, the main street, bathhouse, and more. We then continue to Harod Spring, where Gideon chose 300 warriors to fight the Midianites. We then proceed north to the Sea of Galilee, passing through Tiberias on our way to our hotel. Dinner and overnight are at our hotel by the Sea of Galilee.
Hiking to Tel Dan
There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. After breakfast, we travel north to the Golan Heights for a beautiful view of northern Israel’s landscape. We will head to Caesarea Philippi. We embark on a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam. Afterwards, we make our way to the Mt. of Beatitudes, where we walk down the ancient path to the Sea of Galilee followed by visits to Seven Springs and St. Peter’s Primacy. Then, we visit Capernaum. Next, we board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We conclude our sightseeing with a visit to the new Magdala archaeological site, which is rich in cultural history for both Jews and Christians. We return to our hotel by the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight. This morning, we leave the Sea of Galilee. After a brief stop at the Village of Nain, we drive to Nazareth for visits to the Church of Annunciation, Mary’s Well, and the Precipice. Megiddo is our next stop on the way to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah the Prophet challenged Ahab. Afterwards, we drive to Herod’s city of Caesarea. This is where the first gentile, Cornelius, became a Christian; and where St. Paul defended himself in front Felix and was imprisoned for two years before he sailed to Rome. Our day concludes in Netanya on the Mediterranean Coast, where we will have our Farewell Dinner and spend out last night in Israel. For those that are traveling on flights that depart this evening or early a.m., they will be transferred to Ben Gurion Airport after our farewell dinner.