Explore the Land of the Bible
Tour members meet for our flight. After dinner, sit back and relax, enjoying the on-board entertainment as you prepare for this exciting adventure of a lifetime. Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, we meet our local Israeli representative who assists us with baggage and transfers us to our motor coach. We take a short drive to our hotel in Netanya for dinner and overnight beside the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. After an abundant breakfast buffet, we journey north along the coast to Caesarea, built over 2000 years ago by King Herod. We will see the ancient theater, the palace area, and the hippodrome serving as backdrop for the book of Acts. From here, we drive through the Carmel Range (1 Kings 18, the site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal) to Megiddo (Armageddon; 1 Kings 9:15; Rev. 16:16). Here we see Canaanite and Israelite ruins. We leave the site by walking down the impressive water system of this ancient city. Next, we drive east to Beth Shean, the only Decapolis city on the west side of the Jordan River. We pass by Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and the Hill or Moreh (Judges 6-7). Here we will see a massive Roman city that included a typical bathhouse, agora, colonnaded streets, and the theater. An optional hike up to the top of the Old Testament site will be offered. We end the day by driving to the precipice of Nazareth as we read about Jesus’ ministry in this area (Luke 1 and 4). Driving through Cana (John 2), we finally arrive at the outskirts of Tiberias (John 6:23). We arrive at our “kibbutz-hotel” located right on the Sea of Galilee shoreline. After dinner, we enjoy sitting together for an optional time of fellowship and worship. 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 Bethsaida and the area of the Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6). Then our next site is Gamla, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s A.D. From on top of the site we will look down and see a first century synagogue (one of seven that date to the first century), as well as other ruins of the city. Gamla was 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. Driving along the northern border, we will stop and look into southern Syria. Here we will learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Next, we drive past Mt. Hermon (Psalm 133) and descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi. It was here where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16). Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. This is one of the sources of the Jordan River. We walk through this quiet national park impressive Old Testament city and hear the stories of disobedience 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 meet to review the day.
Sailing on an Ancient Jesus Boat
We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. We 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 here is the best there is of the whole Sea of Galilee below! Next, we travel to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy optional baptism in the Jordan River at Yardenit. From here we drive to Magdala. There is a 1st century synagogue here to see. No doubt Jesus taught here! After lunch (not included) we continue to Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. Here we read from Mark 1 and 2 (and other passages) in the 5th century synagogue. Next we visit the Mount of Beatitudes. We will listen to the words of Matthew 5 spoken by Jesus, perhaps here in this area. Time permitting, we walk down the pathway, recollecting the transforming words of Jesus shared in this place. We end the day with seeing the “Jesus boat” from the first century. It is displayed at Nof Ginnosar. This was a vessel found here along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We then enjoy our own boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. This includes reflective and peaceful worship service. We return to our hotel for dinner. Today is a day of visiting Decapolis cities in Jordan! First after checking out of our hotel, we begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley to the border crossing into Jordan. After border formalities, we meet our Jordanian guide and bus and drive to Gadara (Umm Qais today). This was a large Roman city with three theaters, a temple, and a colonnaded street. Augustus gave it to Herod the Great in 30 BC. Hopefully with good visibility we will get a good view of the Yarmuk River, the southern end of the Golan Heights, and the the Sea of Galilee (in Israel) only 8 miles away. Next, we drive south to the largest of the Decapolis cities, Jerash. This city is one of the world’s best- preserved examples of a Roman provincial city. It is thought to have had a population of 20,000 people and was one of the wealthiest cities of the Roman empire. We will see the theater, the Temples of Zeus and Artemis, as well as the Arch of Hadrian. Jerash was viewed as the “Pompeii of the East.” We then drive to Medeba for the night. We check into our hotel and enjoy a late dinner together. We awake early today as we travel to Mt. Nebo to stand where Moses stood and viewed the “Promised Land.” Here we can take in a breathtaking view across the Jordan Valley to Jericho and the Dead Sea. From here we drive south on the Desert Highway to Petra. We arrive in the early afternoon at the entrance of Petra and spend the rest of the day within this incredible red-rose ancient city. Petra is one of the 7 Wonders of the World! 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 all of 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. We return to the entrance of the site on our own before dark. We enjoy dinner together at our hotel located in walking distance to the site of Petra.
Climbing Masada, King Herod’s Impenetrable Fortress
Leaving the site of Petra in the morning, we drive south towards the border. On the way we pass by Wadi Rum, made famous by Sir Lawrence of Arabia. At the Rabin Border we re-cross into Israel. Greeted once again by our Israeli guide and bus, we drive north through the Aravah (Rift Valley) to Timnah. In ancient days, this was a copper mine of the Egyptians. We will also walk through a full-size replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle. We then drive north to the Dead Sea. After checking into our hotel here, we have a chance to float in this unique body of water. We begin today driving north along the western coastline of the Dead Sea to Masada. Here we ascend high upon the wilderness mountain by way of cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. We survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, the synagogue, temples and palaces. An optional walk down the snake path will be offered. Our next stop is Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul, and we enjoy a walk back to the waterfalls. Continuing north, we visit Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After a late lunch here (not included), we visit the ruins of Qumran. From here we visit Jericho to see portions of the wall of this city that was destroyed by Joshua. Leaving Jericho, we ascend to our hotel in Jerusalem. On the way, we make a brief stop for a spectacular view of the Judean Desert. Here we will read Psalm 23 and the moving words of Isaiah 40. Once we complete our ascent to Jerusalem, we check into our hotel, enjoy dinner together, followed by an optional “orientation walk” to the Old City and the Western Wall. We get our first glimpse of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, beholding a breath-taking panorama of the Holy City. We walk down the “Palm Sunday” route to the Garden of Gethsemane. Next, we enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Lion’s Gate (St. Stephens) and visit the Pool of Bethesda (John 5). We also enjoy some marvelous singing in St. Anne’s Church from the Crusader period. Our walk continues along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the afternoon, we visit Herodium. Located on the edge of the Judean Desert, this is where Herod the Great was buried. We end the day by driving into Bethlehem to visit the Shepherd’s Field, and to shop at an olive wood store. We drive back to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and another optional walk.
Prayers at the Western (Wailing) Wall
We spend the day in the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. We begin by driving from Jerusalem westward to Gezer. Here, we see ruins from the Canaanites to the days of Solomon. The famous “Gezer calendar” was found here. From here, we drive to Beth Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned. Next, we travel to Socoh (or Azekah) and see where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17). As we listen to the story, we see how this famous battle took place! Continuing south, we visit the Maresha Caves in Beit Guvrin with hundreds of bell-shaped caves caused by ancient Roman quarrying. This was the home of the prophet Micah (Micah 1). Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 32). Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. We end the day by driving back to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. The day begins in the Old City and we visit the famous Western (Wailing) Wall, the most holy place in Judaism. After some time for personal prayer and reflection, we walk 400 yards along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. Upon completing this unique walk, we’ll return to the Jewish Quarter. We will enjoy a visit to the Herodian Mansion (ruins of a large 1st century house) and Shorashim for a conversation with Moshe and Dov, Orthodox Jews who will talk about their Jewish faith. In the afternoon, we see the fascinating Israel Museum and the model of Jerusalem (1:50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Here we also explore some of the artifacts in the archaeological museum. We end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We see the Children’s Memorial and walk through the museum on our own. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and an optional walk. We begin the day by visiting the City of David and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to will take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long). 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. We walk on a Roman street and ascend the Temple steps. We eat lunch in the Jewish Quarter (not included) and enjoy a few hours of free time. Our day ends at the Garden Tomb for communion, and we then enjoy a Farewell Dinner together at a restaurant. Finally, we transfer to the airport for our return flight home. We arrive back in the U.S. after going through U.S. Customs, we board our domestic flight back to our respective homes at the end of a life transforming trip!