This itinerary represents an outline of the modern, historical and archaeological sites to be visited during the course of your daily travels. This itinerary is valid for all buses. Your particular bus may visit the individual sites in an order different than what is presented below, but all buses have the same daily schedule.
Tuesday, August 7
DEPARTURE DAY FROM THE USA
Your flights are scheduled roundtrip from JFK.
Wednesday, August 8
ARRIVAL DAY IN ISRAEL
After airport customs, we have a 2 hour bus journey to our hotel located in Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We will spend 4 nights at this hotel. Dinner and overnight at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Tiberias. (D)
Thursday, August 9
SEPPHORIS, NAZARETH, MOUNT PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO
Our day begins with a visit to Sepphoris (Zippori) an important city during the NT era but not mentioned in Scripture. Located only 5 miles from Nazareth, and undergoing a rebuilding phase at the time, some scholars suggest that Joseph and Jesus may have had the occasion to work in Sepphoris as "carpenters". The city served as the regional capital of Galilee under Herod Antipas and in the 2nd century AD the Mishnah reached its final codification under the direction of Rabbi Judah Ha Nasi. Here we will visit a theater, a residential villa housing a grand mosaic ("Mona Lisa of Galilee") and additional residential and commercial quarters of the post-NT era. We now travel to Nazareth -- the boyhood home of Jesus (Luke 2:4-5).
Here we will visit the beautiful Church of the Annunciation, dedicated to the announcement that Mary was to give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). Completed in 1968, the church preserves earlier Crusader ruins as well as more ancient archaeological ruins thought to be homes of 1st century AD Nazareth.
As we exit Nazareth we will stop at Mount Precipice for an overview of the Jezreel Valley and the surrounding hills. Mount Precipice is associated with the event recorded in Luke 4:29-30 where the townspeople of Nazareth escorted Jesus to the "brow of the hill" in an effort to cast him off. Next is the Old Testament site of Megiddo. Fortified by Solomon and resting on the slopes adjacent to the Jezreel Valley, this site is perhaps best remembered for associating its Greek name to the Valley of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). The ruins to be visited in Megiddo include a Canaanite worship center and a dry water tunnel which supplied water in times of peace and especially if the city was under a military siege by an adversarial army. Dinner and overnight at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Tiberias. (B,L,D)
Friday, August 10
MOUNT OF BEATITUDES, CHORAZIN, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE, GALILEE BOAT
Today we give attention to the ministry of Jesus around the Sea of Galilee. We begin with a visit to
the Mount of Beatitudes. Here, on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee, we consider the "Sermon on the Mount" and Jesus' call to discipleship (Matthew 5-7). Next is
the NT city of Chorazin. Located on the northern hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee, this city was strongly rebuked by Jesus for having witnessed many miracles but still having hearts of unbelief (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13). A restored synagogue provides us the opportunity to discuss the various elements of synagogue worship during NT times.
Nearby is Capernaum, the headquarters city of Jesus’ Sea of Galilee ministry. Here we will consider how the Sea of Galilee, as if a magnet, drew the infirmed and served as the perfect locale for Jesus’ Galilean healing ministry. Following lunch we will have the opportunity to take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Our boat ride will take us across the lake to Kibbutz Ginnosar where an ancient Sea-of-Galilee boat (dating to the 1st century AD) was discovered, excavated, preserved and displayed. Dinner and overnight at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Tiberias. (B,L,D)
Saturday, August 11
GOLAN HEIGHTS OVERVIEW, NIMROD OVERVIEW, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN
This morning we travel northeast and ascend to the plateau known as the Golan Heights. This plateau was agriculturally rich in OT times (Jeremiah 50:19; Micah 7:14) as well as during the NT period.
An overlook will provide us a setting from which we can discuss this region's biblical and modern historical significance. As we descend the Golan Heights we will make a brief stop at a Crusader-era Arab fortress known as Nimrod's Castle. From here we can view the lush Huleh Valley below. Our descent to the valley brings us to Caesarea Philippi where we find one of the largest springs (Banias Spring) feeding the Jordan River. The abundant water supply made this area very fertile and attractive for religious worship as evidenced by the remains of various Greek and Roman worship centers. This is a good setting to shift our thoughts to messianic expectations in the 1st century.
Located on the lower slopes of Mount Hermon, we will consider the event of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36) and Jesus’ question to Peter: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27).
Next is biblical Dan, where Jeroboam set up one of his Golden Calf worship centers (1 Kings 12:28-30).
The ruins of Dan are nestled within a beautiful national park with the spring of Dan issuing forth volumes of fresh water which also serves as one of the sources of the Jordan River.
Among the ancient ruins to be visited are the "Jeroboam" altar, the Canaanite Gate dating to the time of Abraham and the Israelite Gate dating to the time of the Northern Kingdom. Dinner and overnight at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, Tiberias. (B,L,D)
Sunday, August 12
JORDAN RIVER, CAESAREA, MOUNT SCOPUS
Today we begin with a visit to the Jordan River at a pilgrim site known as Yardenit (“Little Jordan”). Here Christian pilgrims have the opportunity to be baptized or rededicated by emersion in the Jordan River (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3,4). Should this be an opportunity for you, we will make the arrangements. Next is the impressive NT seaport city of Caesarea located on the shores of the Mediterranean. Built by Herod the Great and later serving as the official residence of Pontius Pilate, Caesarea was the principal commercial and cultural sea link to the Roman Empire and to Rome in particular. Peter came to Caesarea and ministered to the household of Cornelius (Acts 10) and it was from here that Paul, as a prisoner, was sent to Rome (Acts 24). Caesarea is well excavated and several restored structures will draw our attention: the theatre, Herod’s palace, hippodrome, ancient harbor, and Crusader fortifications. We leave Caesarea and continue our journey to the southeast. Our destination is Jerusalem. Upon arrival in Jerusalem we will visit Mount Scopus for an overview of the city.
We will spend 5 nights at our Jerusalem hotel. Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, (B,L,D)
Monday, August 13
JERUSALEM: TEMPLE MOUNT, OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL, FREE TIME
(**No Bibles are allowed on the Temple Mount; leave your Bible at the hotel**) Today begins with a visit to the Temple Mount, a site of historical significance and political dispute.
Occupied today by two famous landmarks, the Golden Dome of the Rock and El-Aksa Mosque, the Temple Mount once housed the First Temple (built by Solomon; OT period) and the Second Temple (built by Herod; NT period). No remains of either temple survive but the mount provides us the venue to discuss many topics associated with such a historical mountaintop. Abraham presented Isaac as an offering (Genesis 22), David purchased it ( 2 Sam 24:18-25) , Solomon built upon it (2 Chronicles 22), as did King Herod, and Jesus preached in it and foretold of its destruction (Luke 19:40-44; 21:20-24) which took place in 70 AD.
Upon leaving the Temple Mount we will venture through the various Quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem as an orientation to local sites of historical interest and local free time activities. As part of your Old City orientation we will visit the Western Wall, the most significant religious site within modern Judaism. Located to the west of the Golden Dome, the Western Wall is a remnant of a retaining wall built by Herod the Great when he refurbished the Temple complex during his reign.
The remainder of the day is free time for you to explore and enjoy the character of Jerusalem’s Old City. Lunch is your responsibility today. There are ample lunch sites in the Old City. Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, (B,D)
Tuesday, August 14
JERUSALEM: SOUTHERN STEPS, WESTERN WALL, CITY OF DAVID,
HEZEKIAH'S TUNNEL, POOL OF SILOAM,
BETHLEHEM, CHURCH OF NATIVITY
(**You need to bring your Passport with you today**) Our focus today is twofold. In the morning we will focus on the physical setting of Jerusalem from the time of King David. After a visit to the Western Wall and the Southern Steps, we enter the City of David, located south of the Old City. Here we have an opportunity to see remnants of Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians (586 BC) and to
travel through an OT water course known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20:20). There is water knee-deep in the tunnel and the trek through the 1500 foot tunnel is optional. You will need a flashlight and water shoes of some type to go through the tunnel. Others can travel through a dry tunnel or be escorted without any tunnels. We all meet at the Pool of Siloam. You may recall Jesus sent a blind man to wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam to receive his sight (John 9). Our second focus of the day is a visit to Bethlehem, located 7 miles south of Jerusalem, where we will acquire the services of a local Palestinian guide to assist us. In addition to being the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem is noted for its fine olive wood craftsmanship. We will visit a local shop for a brief shopping opportunity. We now turn our attention to the birth narratives found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2 with a visit to the Church of Nativity. This church is well preserved and is built over a grotto-cave venerated as the birthplace of Jesus.
Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, (B,L,D)
Wednesday, August 15
JERUSALEM: MOUNT OF OLIVES, DOMINUS FLAVIT, GETHSEMANE, ST. ANNE CHURCH, VIA DOLOROSA,
HOLY SEPULCHER, JEWISH QUARTER, HERODIAN VILLAS
Today, particular attention is given to the historical background regarding the opposition to Jesus and the events which led to his crucifixion. In connection with these themes we begin our touring on the crest of the Mount of Olives with an overlook to the Golden Gate. Here the modern and ancient cities of Jerusalem lie before us in all their splendor. We will walk down the Mount of Olives to the chapel of Dominus Flavit, dedicated to the event of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as he approached the city on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:41). Continuing down the mount we come to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:47). We now cross the Kidron Valley and enter the Old City through St. Stephen's Gate. Nearby is the
Crusader Church of St. Anne (by tradition Anne is the mother of Mary). The acoustics within this church invite a time of fellowship in song. On the church grounds are found excavations associated with the Pools of Bethesda mentioned in John 5:1-15. We continue our journey along the traditional Via Dolorosa until we reach the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the possible location of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We conclude our day in the Jewish Quarter examining the historical rule of Herod the Great (ending in 4BC), his successors and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, (B,L,D)
Thursday, August 16
MASADA, QUMRAN, DEAD SEA
(**Today you will have an opportunity to float in the Dead sea. Bring with you a bathing suit, water shoes and a towel**) We depart the hotel at 7:30 am and drive eastward through the Wilderness of Judea to the the Dead Sea. At Masada we consider the fate of the Zealot movement which ended at Masada. Fortified and embellished by Herod the Great, the site abounds with points of interest. A cable car provides access to this rocky promontory. Points of interest include the western palace, the Roman ramp, the synagogue, the three-tiered northern palace and the storerooms. Our other site of the day is ancient Qumran, the locale of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The ancient settlement of Qumran was a religious community of separatists who viewed the Temple in Jerusalem and those serving there (High Priest, Levites, etc) as defiled and unworthy of attendance. They remained in religious isolation until fleeing their community in advance of a Roman army during the First Jewish Revolt of 66-70 AD. They hid their treasured scrolls in the nearby caves, expecting to return, but never did. We end our day at a local beach for an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea.
Dinner and overnight at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, (B,L,D)
Friday, August 17
GARDEN TOMB, FREE TIME, HOTEL DEPARTURE
Our journey is nearing its end and there is no more fitting place to celebrate the culmination of our pilgrimage than at the Garden Tomb where we will celebrate fellowship and communion. The grounds are picturesque and invite worship and thanksgiving. This is our last formal pilgrim site prior to our return home. After our celebration at the Garden Tomb you have the remainder of the day free. If you are on the Delta flight to JFK, your bus will depart from the hotel approximately 8:00 pm. If you are on the Turkish flight to JFK, your bus will depart from the hotel approximately 2:30 am. Please be prepared for a timely departure from the hotel. Your room has been reserved for you until your departure from the hotel. Lunch is your responsibility today. (B,D)
Saturday, August 18
RETURN TO THE USA
Return to JFK.