Witness Israel with Your Own Eyes
In Tel Aviv, we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We transfer to our motor coach for a short drive to our hotel in Netanya in time for dinner and overnight. Today, we depart for the Galilee, visiting the following Biblical sites: Caesarea where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion (Acts 10), Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel where Elijah prayed, and God defeated 450 prophets of Baal with fire from heaven (1 Kings 18). Time permitting, we’ll stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break (not included). In the afternoon, we drive to Nazareth (Luke 1 & 2). We’ll arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight at the Sea of Galilee. There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. We make our way to the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), with time for reflection and worship. Then we travel north for the Golan Heights and view the area from a special lookout. We drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16). We will have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we will see the gate of Jeroboam and Gideon Springs. We return to the Sea of Galilee and board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our ride on the Sea of Galilee. Then we visit Magdala and the city of Sephoris where it is likely Joseph and Jesus worked during his early years. Dinner and overnight are at the Sea of Galilee.
This morning, we make our way to Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry). Our lunch stop includes the option of the special St. Peter’s Fish for those interested (not included). Afterwards we see Gadara and then make our way to the Jordan River with the option to be baptized in that special river. Afterwards, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities, where the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls (1 Samuel 31:10-12) after they were defeated by the Philistines. We then ascend toward the majestic city of Jerusalem and stop for a visit in Bethlehem on the way. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2 NASB). After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing with a drive to the Wilderness; the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop is Masada, where we make our way by cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. Then we drive to Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. A short drive takes us to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards we follow the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea. We make a special stop at the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on earth) for a short swim. Time and conditions permitting, we’ll include a short visit to Jericho. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate, and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24:18-25). On this site now stands El-Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam). From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, to walk the Via Dolorosa – including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pool of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A short walk takes us to stand on the original steps that Jesus climbed as he entered the Temple area. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem.
Visit the City of David
After breakfast, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We see the fascinating 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Next, we drive to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. From here we make our way to St. Peter at Gallicantu. Afterwards we visit Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship and communion. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. After dinner, we will visit the Western Wall Tunnels. After breakfast, we visit the City of David, and then we go on a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and water shoes to walk through the tunnel. Anyone wanting to stay dry can walk through Hezekiah’s shaft. If time permits, we will visit the newly excavated Pool of Siloam. Afterwards, we depart from Jerusalem and drive to Herodion, King Herod’s Fortress in the Judean Desert. Conditions permitting, we proceed to Khirbet Qeiyafa, the new excavation site of one of King David’s Palaces. We continue to the Elah Valley to see the brook where David slew Goliath. Then we enjoy our last dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
OPTIONAL EILAT, ISRAEL & PETRA, JORDAN EXTENSION
After breakfast, we transfer to the Tel Aviv Airport for our flight to Eilat. Upon arrival in at Ramon Airport we have a short transfer to Eilat and enjoy the balance of the day at the Red Sea (options for snorkeling, visit the amazing Underwater-Observatory or Glass-bottom boat ride). Dinner and overnight in Eilat. Early morning, we transfer to the Arava border for Jordan. We meet our Jordanian guide and board our motor coach. We drive to Petra, the “rose red city half as old as time.” At this ancient Edomite and Nabatean capital, we see the spectacular “city of the dead,” with its famed gorge, ancient streets, temples, dwelling places and tombs, carved in the solid rock. Then, we arrive at El-Ji Post, and continue the one-mile journey on horseback, or foot, passing through the famous Siq (the natural gorge) and arrive at the Treasury. In the afternoon, we visit Roman Temple Ruins of Roman City, Nabatean Judgment Hall, Palace Tombs, famous Urn Temple, and Roman Amphitheater. We enjoy a lunch at Petra and then return to the Arava border. We will have dinner in Eilat area prior to our flight back to Tel Aviv. Overnight is in Tel Aviv.