Exploring the Biblical Holy Land
We arrive in Tel Aviv where we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We are then transferred to our motor coach and drive to our hotel on the Mediterranean in Netanya. Dinner and overnight are in Netanya. Today, we depart for Galilee, visiting the following biblical sites: Caesarea Maritima, Megiddo (Armageddon; 1 Kgs. 9:15; Rev. 16:16), Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs. 18), Zippori, Nazareth (Luke 1 & 2), and Cana (John 2). We conclude our day with a visit to Mt. Arbel, where we will have an opportunity to see the sunset over the Galilee area, before we return to our hotel in time for dinner and overnight in Tiberias. There is nothing quite like watching a sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. Today will include many biblical sites along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and in the Upper Jordan Valley: Capernaum (Matt. 4:13), Mount of Beatitudes (Matt. 5-7), Tabgha (Feeding of 5000; Mark 6), Church of Peter of Primacy (John 21), Magdala (Matt. 15:39; Luke 8:2), Caesarea Philippi (Paneas; Mark 8:27), view Mt. Hermon (Deut. 3:8), Border of Lebanon (Josh. 11:17), and Hazor (Josh. 11:10; 1 Kgs. 9:15). A highlight is the visit to “the Jesus Boat” that dates to the time of Christ. Time permitting, we will make a visit to Bethsaida. Dinner and overnight are in Tiberias.
Visit the Jordan Baptismal Site
After breakfast, we begin our day of sightseeing with a visit to Belvoir (Crusader’s Fortress). Afterwards, we will enjoy a visit to Tel Beit Shean (1 Sam. 31:10). We will then travel along the Jordan Valley and stop at the Qasr el Yahud Baptismal site on the Jordan River. We will move on to visit Jericho and remember Joshua and the “Battle of Jericho”, where the walls came tumbling down visit the famous Hisham Palace and Tel sultan. We take a cable car up to the Mount of Temptation. Then, we continue to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s Field. The afternoon is at leisure, time for us to enjoy some shopping and spend some time with some local Christian families in Bethlehem. Dinner and overnight are in Bethlehem.We begin the day by worshipping at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. After worship, we will go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and then to the ancient Cardo. We will then walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. We have a short walk to the Davidson Center for a short presentation and then we will visit the Southern Steps. Time permitting, we will see the huge bronze Menorah. We then make our way to the recently excavated site City of David. Then, we make our way to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
See the Scale Model of Herodian Jerusalem
We begin our explorations with a drive to the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breath-taking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed to the Church of Dominus Flevit, then we walk the “Palm Sunday Road” and descend to Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove and there visit the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. Beyond the city wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Sam. 24:18-25). On this site now stands the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in all Islam) and the El-Aksa Mosque. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Sister of Zion Convent (to see the Pavement where Jesus stood as he was being tried by Pilate), and Ecco Homo Arch. Then, we follow the Via Dolorosa, and we see Mt. Zion, then visit The Upper Room, where Jesus spent those last momentous hours with his disciples before his passion. It was also here where the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on Pentecost. From there, we will go to the Israel Museum, including the Bronfman Archaeological Museum and the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Then, you will be fascinated by your visit to a model of Jerusalem (1 to 50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Late in the afternoon we will visit the Garden Tomb with a special Communion Service. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. After breakfast, we leave Jerusalem and begin our sightseeing with a visit to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. Afterwards, we continue to Qumran and the possible settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. From here, we make our way to Masada, where we will ascend high upon the wilderness mountain, by way of the cable car, to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea area is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. We will arrive at the hotel mid-afternoon in time to enjoy a relaxing swim/float in the Dead Sea. Please be sure you bring with you good closed-toed water shoes, as the bottom surface can be rough on your feet. Then, we have a Farewell Dinner together at our hotel. For those not taking the extension, we will have an evening transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for your late evening return flight back home. For those taking the optional extension, we will return to Jerusalem for overnight.
Optional Egypt Extension
Today, we leave for an exciting time in Egypt. Upon arrival at Taba border, we transfer to St. Catherine for check-in, dinner, and overnight at our hotel. This morning, we meet in the hotel lobby by 2:00 a.m. to start our day by climbing Moussa Mountain with our local guide (those who choose not to climb, can stay back at the hotel). On the southern end of the collection of peaks, is Mount Moussa (Mountain of Moses), biblically considered to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Climbing the mountain takes about 3 hours on foot following the Path of Moses – a stairway of nearly 4,000 steps – to arrive at the peak for the wonderful view of the sunrise. After enjoying the sunrise, we visit St. Catherine’s Monastery, located at the foot of the mountain. The monastery is built around what is thought to be Moses’ Burning Bush and is a spectacular natural setting for priceless works of art. We then transfer to Sharm El Sheikh airport for our short flight to Cairo. Upon arrival in Cairo, we transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we venture to visit some of Egypt’s oldest sites, and enjoy a camel ride. We first visit the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest and is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks. We enter this pyramid and visit the King’s Chamber. Nearby, we visit the Solar Boat Museum, to see an ancient Egyptian cedar wood boat dating back 4,500 years. We also visit the Great Sphinx. Then, we visit the Necropolis of Sakkara, to see King Zoser’s Step Pyramid. This vast site in the heart of the desert plateau is the largest necropolis in Egypt. We end in Memphis, to see the limestone Colossus of Ramses II. Here, the remnants of the nation’s first capital and once the most cosmopolitan city in Egypt now lie scattered in the desert. Dinner and overnight are in Cairo. After breakfast, we enjoy a special tour of the Museum of Antiquities. The museum houses the greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures in the world, including the expansive Tutankhamen collection of golden treasures. We continue to visit the Citadel. Inside, we see the lavishly decorated Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali. We continue to the famous Suspended Church, dating back to the late fourth and early fifth centuries. We then visit the Church of St. Sergius, a fifth-century Coptic church built in the cave where the Holy Family stayed. We come to the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, where Moses was saved by Pharaoh’s water girl. Finally, we stroll through the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, a bustling warren of shops where you can bargain for rugs, copper and leather crafts, and much more. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. This morning, we transfer to Cairo Airport for our flight back to the U.S.A. and arrive home the same day.