Experience the Lands of the Bible
Tour members depart the U.S.A. for our flight to modern day Israel. 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 our hotel at 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 (3150-2200 BCE). 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 (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 in the Galilee area.
Witness 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 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 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 in the Galilee area. There is nothing quite like a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. After an inspiring private boat ride, we head north into the Golan Heights for an incredible view and then continue for a visit to 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 in the Galilee area.
Explore the City of Jerusalem
Today, we depart from the Galilee area for 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 and have lunch at Ramat Rachel. After lunch, we pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, visit the Church of the Nativity, and view the Shepherd’s Field. We take time for shopping in a Bethlehem store before returning to hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. 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 have lunch in Jerusalem 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 (1:50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. 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 Sepulcher. We have lunch in Jerusalem, then travel on to the City of David, the recently excavated Hezekiah’s Shaft, and Pool of Siloam. Dinner and overnight are at our hotel in Jerusalem. We begin our day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Conditions permitting, we will visit the Temple Mount to view the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in all Islam) and the El-Aqsa Mosque. We have lunch in Jerusalem, then proceed to the Garden Tomb for a private communion service. Tonight, we will enjoy a special farewell dinner in Jerusalem or in Jaffa. Depending on our flight schedule we return to Ben Gurion Airport and fly home or will have our overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem. Today, 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.
Optional 4-Day Jordan Extension
We begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley the Allenby Bridge. Here we make the crossing from Israel to Jordan. After border formalities, we meet our Jordanian guide and bus and drive to Mt. Nebo to stand where Moses stood and viewed the Holy Land (Deut. 34). Here you can take in a breathtaking view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. We continue to Macharus, one of Herod’s palace-fortresses. It was here where John the Baptist was beheaded (Mark 6). In the late afternoon, we drive south down the Desert Highway to Petra, where we spend the night. We arrive at our hotel and enjoy a late dinner together. We arrive this morning at the entrance of Petra and spend the entire day within this red-rose ancient city. We are in the heart of the Seir Mountains, Land of Edomites, mentioned in the Bible in Genesis. These mountains house the Aaron Peak, the highest in Petra and the burial place of Moses’ brother Aaron. A walk through the Siq, the main entrance to Petra, brings us to the first monument “The Treasury” “Al-Khazneh” a dramatic site. This well-preserved monumental tomb appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” A walk further down through the outer siq with allof its tombs and burial chamber brings us to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. A 3000-seat theater from the early first century is carved in the sandstone mountains at the bottom of the High Place of Sacrifice Mountain. Apparently, some sacrificial rituals had taken place here. 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 Captain’s, a Bedouin Village. We enjoy dinner together and a devotional time under the stars. It will be a unique experience! Late morning start, we leave Wadi Rum and make our way for Amman, where we then check into our hotel for our farewell dinner and time to rest and shower as we have an early morning transfer to the Amman Airport for our return flight back home. We have an early morning transfer to Alia Airport for our return flight back to the U.S.A. We arrive home in the U.S.A. at the close of an unforgettable tour. We take home wonderful memories of the Old and New Testament, a renewal of our faith, and a greater understanding of the life of our Lord.