Your Holy Land Adventure Begins
Tour members meet for our flight. After dinner is served, 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 2000 years ago by King Herod. We walk through the ancient theater, the Crusader city and the fantastic aqueduct that served as a backdrop for the book of Acts. From here we depart to Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Then we proceed to Megiddo (Armageddon; 1 Kings 9:15; Rev. 16:16). Above the Jezreel Valley is the Gilboa Range. We will drive to the top of “Mt. Saul” where we will read from 1 Samuel 31. Our last stop of the day is on the northern end of the Jezreel Valley. High on the precipice of Nazareth (Luke 1 and 4) is where we are introduced to the life and ministry of Jesus in this area. 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 a late dinner, we enjoy a short walk to the water’s edge for an orientation about the Sea of Galilee.
All Aboard the Sea of Galilee
We begin early today by driving to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee to Hazor, the largest archaeological site of Israel. Located in the Huleh Valley, this 200-acre site first inhabited by Canaanites was conquered by Joshua (Josh. 11). Later, King Solomon refortified the city. Continuing north, we visit the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Tel Dan. First, we walk through this quiet national park along the upper Jordan River. Then we will sit on the steps of the high place and hear the stories that took place here (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12). Next, we visit Caesarea Philippi. It was here Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt. 16). We will see the ruins from the grotto area of the city. From here we drive east to the border with Syria. We will pass Mt. Hermon (Ps. 133) on the way. At the border we learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Returning to the Sea of Galilee, we will pass Gamla (a 1st century Jewish site), Bethsaida (the home of Peter, Andrew, and Phillip, John 1), the area of the Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6), and Kursi (where the demoniac was healed by Jesus, Mark 5). Our final stop is Hippos, one of the Decapolis cities overlooking the Sea of Galilee (please note: this site is not developed for tours, so it does require some steep hiking to the top of the site). We then drive back to our hotel in Tiberias. After dinner, we meet down by the water’s edge once again to review the day. 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 we visit 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. Close by we visit the Mount of Beatitudes. Here we read portions of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. We take time to reflect upon this very significant kingdom message of Jesus. We end the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service. Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found here along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We return to our hotel for dinner and an optional gathering once again by the water. We begin the day by driving south to the Jordan Valley to the site of Beth Shean (1 Sam. 31), an impressive Roman city of the Decapolis. Driving south along the Jordan Valley, our next stop is Jericho. 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). We will eat lunch in Jericho. Finally, we visit Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first scrolls were found in Cave 1 in 1947. From here we drive to the southern end of the Dead Sea to our hotel. Prior to dinner, you will have a chance to float in the salt and mineral-rich waters of this unique body of water! This morning we begin our drive northward along the westerncoastline 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, 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 to some of the waterfalls in the canyon. From here we drive through part of the Judean Desert (Parath, Jeremiah 13) en route to Shiloh. We will see the new excavations of what is believed to be where the Tabernacle. This means we will read 1 Samuel 2-4 right where it all took place from there days of Samuel. From here we drive south to Jerusalem for overnight. After checking in our hotel and dinner, an optional walk to the Western Wall will take place.
The Holy City of Jerusalem
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 Pools of Bethesda (John 5). We also enjoy some marvelous singing in St. Anne’s church from the Crusader period. Our walk through the Old City will take us to the Christian Quarter and to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the afternoon after lunch, we see the fascinating Israel Museum and the model of Jerusalem (1:50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have 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 have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we enjoy a free evening or a walk at your leisure. We begin the day by driving southeast of Jerusalem to Herodium. This was a palace-fortress built by Herod the Great. It was also where King Herod was buried. Next, we go to the Shepherds’ Fields for a quiet time of reflecting upon God’s redemptive history. Then in Bethlehem we visit an olive wood factory and store. Following time at the store, we will visit the Church of Nativity, a 4th century AD church. In the afternoon we return to the Old City of Jerusalem. We visit David’s Citadel. This is where Herod’s place was located, the most likely location of Jesus’ sentencing before Pontius Pilate. We will also visit the Herodian Mansion in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. We end the day with a visit to Shorashim. Here, we will meet Moshe, an Orthodox Jew who will share about his Jewish faith. We return to our hotel for dinner. We begin this morning by visiting the Western Wall and an early appointment (8 a.m.) to walk through the Western Wall Tunnels. From here we board back on the bus and drive to the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. We first visit Gezer (along the Aijalon Valley, Joshua 10). We will see ruins from the Canaanite through Israelite Periods. Driving south we make a brief stop at Beth Shemesh (along the Sorek Valley). It was here where the Ark of the Covenant was returned by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6). Samson also grew up across the valley (Judges 13-16). Continuing south, we drive to Azekah. From the top, we’ll see Gath towards the west (the home of Goliath). Looking east we will see where David fought the Philistine giant (1 Samuel 17). Our last site of the day will be Lachish. Joshua took this Canaanite city in two days (Joshua 10). Later, the Judean city was attacked by the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 32). Still later, the city was finally destroyed by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 34:7). We will see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. We drive back to Jerusalem for dinner and another free evening to walk the streets of Israel’s capital. 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 (or visit the Western Wall). Our day ends at the Garden Tomb for Communion, before continuing to a local restaurant (in Abu Gosh, where the ancient city of Kiriath Jearim was located and where the Ark was kept for at least 20 years, 1 Samuel 6) for our Farewell Dinner together. Then we transfer to the airport for our return flight home. We arrive back in the U.S.A. After going through U.S. Customs, we board our domestic flight back to our homes at the end of a life-transforming trip!