Enriching Journey through the Holy Land
We arrive in Israel, meet our Israeli tour guide, and board our air-conditioned coach for our drive to the Dead Sea. We have dinner and overnight at one of the Dead Sea Resort Hotels overlooking the Dead Sea. Our first stop of the day is Masada. It was here in A.D. 70 that 960 Jewish zealots made their last stand against Rome and took their own lives rather than become slaves to the Romans. We ascend this mountain fortress via cable car, and our guide takes us on a fascinating tour of the site. We continue to Tel Arad, the remains of a major city from the Bronze Age and the Israelite period. Tel Arad, northwest of the modern city of Arad in the northern Negev, consists of a lower and an upper city. The lower city was inhabited only in the Early Bronze Age (3150-2200BCE). At approximately 100 dunams (25 acres), Arad was one of the largest cities of its day in this country and surrounded by a strong 1,200-meter wall. The city’s streets, plazas, and buildings were meticulously planned, including a reservoir in the lowest part of the city in which surface runoff was channeled. We enjoy a lunch at Kfar Hanokdim Bedouin Encampment (not included). Then we return to the Dead Sea in time for swimming and floating before dinner and overnight at our Dead Sea Hotel. Today, we travel from the Dead Sea region, the lowest place on earth, and stop at Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. Then we make our way to Qumran, the home of the Essenes, where many of the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. We enjoy a lunch at Qumran and then drive through the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee. We visit Beit Shean and see the expansive archeological ruins of an ancient city inhabited for 5000 years where King Saul was killed. It is also one of the Roman cities through which Jesus passed during his travels from Galilee to Jerusalem. Then we drive to the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight are in the Galilee.
A Private Boating on the Sea of Galilee
After a fabulous Israeli buffet breakfast, we drive to Mount Carmel (Muchraka) to the highest point of the mountain, in the place where, according to the tradition, the prophet Elijah competed with the 450 pagan prophets (1 Kings 18) to see an impressive Carmelite Monastery. From the balcony, we see an amazing 360-degree panorama: in the east – the valleys, in the north – the Galilee, in the west – the sea, and in the south – the Carmel, the Samaria and the coastline. We continue to Megiddo, a fortress city of King Solomon and the site of 21 superimposed cities. We drive to the Nazareth ridge for a magnificent view of the Jezreel Valley, also known as the Valley of Armageddon. We will enjoy our lunch stop in Nazareth. Passing through Nazareth and the small town of Cana and continuing to the Sea of Galilee, we stop at the Jordan River Baptismal site of Yardenit. Dinner and overnight are back at our hotel in the Galilee. There is nothing quite like a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee and welcoming in the New Year in the Galilee! After an inspiring private boat ride, we head north into the Golan Heights for an incredible view of Caesarea Philippi. We have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we see the gate of Jeroboam. We enjoy a special St. Peter Fish Lunch (not included), and later we visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Next, we drive to Capernaum, Jesus’ ministry center and the home of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. There we see the first-century synagogue where Jesus possibly performed several miracles. We have dinner and overnight at our hotel in the Galilee. Today, we depart from the Galilee area and continue to Caesarea Maritima where Peter proclaimed the good news to the Roman centurion Cornelius. This Roman capital of Israel at the time of Jesus dates back to the time of Pontius Pilate. We sit in the ancient amphitheater, explore the remains of a Crusader fortress, and see the spectacular Roman aqueduct. We drive via the coastal road and the Judean Hills to Jerusalem. After lunch in Bethlehem, we pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, visit the Church of the Nativity, and one of the Grotto Caves near the Shepherd’s Field. We take time for shopping in a Bethlehem store and then make our way to our Jerusalem Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Explore Ancient Jerusalem
From the Mount of Olives, our pilgrimage descends to Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and there we visit the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed the night he was betrayed. We take a walk through the Kidron Valley and visit the Southern Steps—the actual steps that Christ climbed when he visited the Temple. We will stop for lunch in Jerusalem Old City and then visit the Cardo, Jerusalem’s main street from the second century. We visit the Herodian Quarter and The Wohl Museum of Archeology. Then we continue to the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We visit the fascinating model of Jerusalem (1:50scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Dinner and overnight at our Jerusalem Hotel. We enter Jerusalem through the Dung Gate and walk to the holiest site in the Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. We walk the Rabbi’s Tunnel, a section of the ancient retaining wall of Solomon’s Temple. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Sisters of Zion Convent (to see the Pavement where Jesus stood as he was being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and then follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a quick visit. We have a late lunch stop in Jerusalem, then travel on to the City of David, before concluding our day with a special visit to the Garden Tomb for a private communion service. Tonight, we will enjoy a special farewell dinner and overnight at our Jerusalem Hotel. After breakfast we transfer to the Ben Gurion Airport for our return flight to the U.S.A. With stirring memories of our walk with Jesus and history, we arrive back in the U.S.A. same day.