11 Day Christian Holy Land Tour
Tour members make their own flight arrangements and depart for their adventure of a lifetime. Upon arrival at the Ben Gurion Airport, our local Israeli representative will be waiting to assist in the baggage claims area. Then travelers will meet Dr. DeLancey either at the airport or the first night’s hotel (your choice). Those meeting at the airport will be provided a short drive to our hotel in Herzliya for dinner and overnight beside the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Upon gathering at our hotel in Netanya, an orientation meeting and devotional will take place on the beach. After an abundant breakfast buffet, we journey north along the coast to Caesarea, built 2000 years ago by King Herod. We walk through the ancient theater, the Crusader city and see the fantastic aqueduct that served as a back drop for the book of Acts. From here we drive to Megiddo. We climb this archaeological site where we consider many of the biblical connections around us (Mt. Gilboa, Hill of Moreh, Mt. Tabor). We then drive to one of Israel’s largest sites, Beth Shean. We approach the site in a unique way, from the back gate, this will take us to the top of the Old Testament site (1 Sam. 31). We then visit the huge Roman site below, which includes a colonnaded street, bathhouse, and a massive theater. Finally, we will introduce the life of Jesus on top of the Precipice of Nazareth (Luke 4, John 1). We end the day by driving to our hotel near the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. After dinner, we enjoy gathering together for a time of fellowship and worship.
Behold the Sea of Galilee
We begin the day 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 (the home of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, see John 1) and the location where the Feeding of the 5,000 took place (John 6). Our next site is Gamla, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s A.D. Here we hike down the trail to see a first century synagogue (one of seven that date to the first century), 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. We see what a typical village looked like during the days of Jesus. Sitting in a reconstructed stone house, we’ll read from Mark 2 about the lame man being lowered down to Jesus through the roof. Next, we drive through a few Druze villages to the base of Mt. Hermon (Psalm 133). Here, we will take the ski lift to the top and relish in the great view. We then either hike down the nature trail (time permitting) or ride the ski lift back down. Returning to our bus, we drive past Caesarea Philippi (where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt. 16) to the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. This is also where the largest of the sources of the Jordan River begins. We walk through this quiet national park and hear the stories that took place here (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12). We end the day by driving back through the Huleh Valley to our hotel in Tiberias. After dinner, we enjoy a free night to explore Tiberias! We begin the day 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). The view from the top is the best there is of the whole Sea of Galilee below! 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 back to the NW corner of the lake 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 (not included) we see Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. Here we read about the many stories related to the ministry of Jesus in the 4th-5th century synagogue. We also spend some reflection time on the shoreline. It was in this area where Jesus called His first disciples. Next, we drive to the Mt. of Beatitudes where we hear the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5. Time permitting, we enjoy a reflective walk down to the shoreline. We end the day visiting Nof Ginnosar where a 2,000 year-old boat was discovered in 1986. From here we board our own boat for a time of worship and reflection out on the water. We return to our hotel for a late dinner and another free evening.
Experience Floating in the Dead Sea
We begin the day by driving south in the Jordan Valley all the way to Jericho. Here we climb the tel (ancient mound) to see portions of the fortification wall that supported the mud-brick walls that “came tumblin’ down”(Joshua 6). Next, we drive to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will have the opportunity to explore the cliff area where some of the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. Our last stop of the day is Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. As we continue, we enjoy a walk to some of the waterfalls in the canyon. Getting wet will be refreshing! From here we drive south to our hostel at Masada. This morning we offer an optional early morning hike up the famous Snake Path of Masada. Our aim is to enjoy the sunrise from the top! Descending down for breakfast, we then take the cable car to the top. Masada was one of the “palace-fortresses” built by King Herod. We survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. From here, we drive north to a public beach at the Dead Sea. You will have the chance to float in the sea’s unique salt and mineral-rich waters! We then drive west towards Jerusalem. On the way, we will make a stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. This is the heart of the Judean Desert. We will hike to the stand-alone hill (optional) where we will hear the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23. In the mid-afternoon, we drive to Jerusalem. As we drive to Jerusalem, we will make a brief stop on the Mt. of Olives for a spectacular view of the Old City. Last, we stop for quiet reflection on the slopes of Mt. Scopus to consider the Garden of Gethsemane event in the life of Jesus. We check in to our hotel and then walk into the Jewish Quarter for a quick dinner before continuing to the Western Wall. We return to our hotel for overnight.
Overlook the City Jericho
We begin the day by visiting the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want will take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long). Be sure to bring a flashlight and water shoes to walk through the tunnel. 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. From here we grab a quick bite for lunch in the Jewish Quarter. We then drive to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum and Memorial. We drive either to get dropped off back at the hotel or at Ben Yehuda Street and walk back to the hotel. Dinner is on your own either at Ben Yehuda or near the hotel. Hike in the Wadi Qelt to the St. George Monastery, Free afternoon in Jerusalem Today we will drive back to the Judean Desert and enjoy a hike down into the Wadi Qelt. This exhilarating hike will take us down to the St. George monastery. We will hike the trail that overlooks Jericho. We return to Jerusalem for a free afternoon in the Old City. We grab dinner on our own before returning to the hotel. We begin the day with a worship and communion service at the Garden Tomb. This is an alternative site for the crucifixion and burial location of Jesus. We then drive to the Israel Museum to see a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem and the archaeological wing of the museum. In the afternoon we drive into the Old City where we visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Next, we will enjoy the ramparts, as we walk on top of the walls of the Old City built in 16th century AD. We enjoy some free time and dinner on our own before returning back to the hotel. (Note: some may have a late night flight home and will need to get to the airport). Today we catch our flights back to the States. After going through U.S. Customs, we board our domestic flight back home.