Travel Israel on a 14-Day Tour
We arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport in the mid-morning. Here we are met by our Israeli guide and driver. After a quick lunch (not included), we board our bus and head to Tel Aviv. This afternoon, we will be introduced to modern Israeli history. Celebrating Israel’s 70th year anniversary, we will visit the Palmach Museum and Independence Hall. As we travel Israel, we’ll make a stop in Jaffa.We spend our first night along the Mediterranean Sea. We spend our first day in the Shephelah of Judah. We begin by driving to Gezer. The famous “Gezer calendar” was found here. Then we drive to Beth Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned. Next, we visit Gath, the hometown of Goliath, the Philistine giant. Nearby, we visit Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath. Continuing south, we visit Maresha in the Beit Guvrin Valley, where hundreds of bell-shaped caves were created by ancient Roman quarrying. Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians. We hike to the top of the tel to see the palace perhaps built by Rehoboam. 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 travel Israel south to Sde Boker, the home and tomb of Ben Gurion. We will get a great view of the Wilderness of Zin from here. Next, we enjoy hiking down in the majestic canyon of the Zin. Close by we will see the ruins of Avdat. We ascend to the site to see a few of the ruins there. After lunch (not included), we drive north 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. We are staying at Kfar Hanokdim, a Bedouin oasis. Accommodations include “Bedouin tent” dwellings. We enjoy a camel ride in the desert, sleep in tents and learn about desert life.
Ascending the Golan Heights
Following breakfast, we approach the famous site of Masada from the west and walk up the ramp built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Leaving the site, we have the option of walking down the Snake Path or riding the cable car down. Next, we travel Israel 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. Next, we get the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. Nearby is Jericho. Our last stop of the day is an overview of the Judean Desert. We stay overnight at Al Mog, a Jewish Kibbutz on the northern edge of the Dead Sea. Our first stop for the day will be the baptismal site at Qasr El-Yahud. Then we drive north in the Jordan River Valley before turning west into the hills of Samaria and the newly-displayed site of Shiloh. Our last site is Beth Shean, a massive Roman city. As we travel Israel, we’re given the option to climb to the top of the Old Testament tel for a great view of the region and the Jordan River Valley. We drive north to the Sea of Galilee area to Tiberias where we will spend the next three nights. If there is time, we will visit Hippos-Sussita. We begin the day by driving into the Golan Heights. We travel Israel by ascending the Golan Heights we next visit Gamla, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s AD. Here we will 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 northeast, we look down into Syria. Next, we descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. We end the day by driving to Omrit. We drive back through the Huleh Valley past the biblical site of Hazor to our hotel in Tiberias.
Did You Know? Dan is one of the sources of the Jordan River.
Winding through Mt. Carmel
We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner 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 Chorazim, one of the three cities condemned by Jesus. Bethsaida is next. We will see ruins dating from both the time of the New Testament and the Old Testament. Before lunch we will also visit Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus in Galilee. Following a late lunch (not included), we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service together. Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found nearby along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We end the day on the Mt. of Beatitudes, focusing on the words of Jesus. This morning we visit Sepporis, a primary city in the Lower Galilee in Jesus’ day. Nearby is Nazareth. Our first view of the city will be from the “precipice.” Here we also enjoy our first full view of the Jezreel Valley. Next, we travel Israel to Nazareth to visit the Nazareth Village, which includes 1st century ruins from the time when Jesus lived here. We continue into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. Winding our way through the Mt. Carmel range, we remember the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Descending to the Sharon Plain, our last site is Caesarea Maritima. Here we view part of the city initially built by Herod the Great. From here we drive to Jerusalem. 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. As we travel Israel, we continue down 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 Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional location for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. In the afternoon, we’ll leave the Old City and drive south to Herodium. We end the day by visiting the Shepherds’ Field and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. We also visit an olive wood workshop and store.
We begin the day by entering the Old City through the Dung Gate. As we travel Israel, we 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. We also visit Shoreshim where we hear Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, talk about his faith. After lunch in the Jewish Quarter (not included), we walk to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu. We end the day by visiting Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Memorial. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. We travel Israel today by visiting the Temple Mount. Today, the Dome of the Rock stands in their place. We will also see the inside of the Eastern Gate that has been closed since the early 800s AD. Next, we will drive to the Mt. of Olives to the Temple Mount Sifting Project. After lunch (not included), we travel Israel out to West Jerusalem where we visit the Israel Museum and the spectacular Jerusalem Model of the Second Temple Period. In the mid-afternoon, there will be a few hours of free time to explore the Old City. This morning begins as we travel Israel to the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to can then take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. 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 travel Israel 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) and a few free hours to shop or explore on your own, we end the day at the Garden Tomb. We drive back to our hotel for our Farewell Dinner. We then drive to the airport for our flight home this evening.