ITINERARY

B = Breakfast provided
L = Lunch provided; BL = Box lunch provided
D = Dinner provided
 
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8
ARRIVAL DAY IN ISRAEL

Two bus transfers are scheduled from the Tel Aviv airport to your hotel. See the Flights And Arrival In Israel link for additional information. Overnight in Herzliya. We are at this hotel for one night. (D)
 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 9
SHARON PLAIN and JEZREEL VALLEY

We check out of our hotel to begin our day in the region of the Sharon Plain at the NT seaport city of Caesarea. 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). The site of Caesarea is well excavated and several restored facilities will draw our special attention: the Theatre, Herod’s Palace, Hippodrome, ancient Harbor, Crusader fortifications and the Roman era aqueduct. We leave Caesarea and continue our journey northward for an hour to the region of Mount Carmel. It was here that the prophet Elijah confronted and defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Next is the biblical 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 archaeological ruins of Megiddo reflect its strategic location on an ancient international route. Of special interest are its succession of entry gates, an ancient Canaanite worship center and a dry water tunnel which supplied water in times of peace and especially if under a military siege by an adversarial nation. We conclude our day with a view of the Sea of Galilee prior to arriving at our hotel in Tiberias, located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. We are at this hotel for 4 nights. (B,BL,D) 

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10
HULEH VALLEY and MOUNT HERMON REGION

We begin our day with a drive to the north. Our first site is ancient Hazor -- a strategic Canaanite city captured and burned by Joshua (Joshua 11:10-11) and redeveloped under the kingship of Solomon (1 Kings 9:15). We will visit the Solomonic city gate and an earlier palace thought to be the palace of Jabin, the Canaanite king of Hazor. We continue our travels to the north and arrive at the Old Testament site of Dan. Here we discuss the importance of an ancient Old Testament site having strong fortifications against adversarial northern neighbors. It was at Dan that 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 that serves as one of the sources of the Jordan River. At nearby Caesarea Philippi, on the lower slopes of Mount Hermon, we 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). Here is one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River; the abundant water supply made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship as evidenced by the remains of various Greek and Roman worship centers. Leaving Caesarea Philippi we journey eastward and uphill to the plateau of the Golan Heights. After a visit to Har Bental, a high vantage point, we will conclude our day with an overlook of the Sea of Galilee. Overnight Tiberias. (B,L,D)

 

WEDNESDAY. OCTOBER 11
GOLAN HEIGHTS and SEA OF GALILEE

Our first stop of the day is a restored Jewish farming village dating from the 4th-6th centuries AD. Since land, life and culture changed little from the NT times to the time of this restored Jewish village, it serves as a wonderful visual illustration of life throughout the NT era. A restored synagogue represents the center of village life. A deep ravine descends from the Golan Heights toward the Sea of Galilee. Nestled in the upper reaches of this ravine and perched on a hill with precipitous slopes is the 1st century village of Gamla. This Jewish village was placed under seige by the Roman General Vespasian on October 12, 67 AD during the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD). After several attacks and counter attacks, the village fell to the Roman forces a month later. To avoid capture 5000 inhabitants committed suicide by jumping to their death. The synagogue of the village is one of only a handful of 1st century synagogues discovered in Israel. Leaving the Golan area we descend to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee to ruins of et-Tell, identified by many as ancient Bethsaida of the Gospels. Farther up the northern slopes we come to Chorazin, also mentioned in the Gospel accounts. Jesus was quite familiar with both of these cities and in them performed many miracles. He also chastised them for their unbelief (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13). The village residential quarter and the synagogue will be our focus of attention. Overnight Tiberias (B,BL,D)

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12
SEA OF GALILEE

We begin our day on the northern slopes of the Sea of Galilee at the site known as the Mount of Beatitudes. Here, on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee, we consider Jesus’ most famous sermon and his call to discipleship (Matthew 5-7). You will be offered free time to enjoy the garden environment of the mountain and then we will hike down the hill to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Near the shore is a small church known as the Primacy of St. Peter with remnants dating back to the 4th century. The historical records indicate that this church was dedicated to the events of Jesus’ resurrection appearance along the sea shore (John 21:9). A short drive to the east brings us to 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. Next is Kursi, an ancient 5th Century AD Byzantine monastery complex. This early pilgrim center may reflect the vicinity of the event recounted in the Gospels where Jesus healed a man with unclean spirits and cast those spirits into a herd of swine (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39). About 10 years ago Rex was part of an excavation team at Kursi. We return to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee to Kibbutz Ginnosar where an ancient Sea-of-Galilee boat (dating to the 1st century AD) was discovered, excavated, preserved and is displayed. We conclude our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. What a perfect way to end the day—on the Sea of Galilee! Overnight Tiberias. (B,L,D) 

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13
BAPTISM OPPORTUNITY AND DEAD SEA REGION

We depart the hotel at 7:45 to travel south via the Jordan Valley, but first, we begin our day 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. Should this be an opportunity for you, we will make the needed arrangements. Be sure to pack proper water clothing. We check out of our hotel and travel south from Tiberias into the Jordan Valley to the ancient site of Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Located near the Dead Sea, the ancient community 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 so. Continuing south we come to the ancient oasis of Ein Gedi. Here, fresh water springs offer a stark contrast to the barrenness of the Wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea environment. It was in this vicinity that David hid in a cave when he fled from King Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-23). As we hike along the valley we will see how the springs of Ein Gedi transform this barren region into one of plenty. A short drive south will bring us to our resort hotel located near the shore of the Dead Sea. An afternoon check-in is expected in order for you to enjoy the hotel amenities and have an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. We are at this hotel for one night. Overnight Dead Sea. (B,BL,D) 

 
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14
DEAD SEA and JERUSALEM

We check out of our hotel and travel a short distance north to the historic site of Masada where we consider the fate of the Zealot movement which ended at Masada in 73 AD. Fortified and embellished by Herod the Great, the site abounds with points of interest. We will spend several hours atop this rocky promontory. A cable car provides access to the top. Points of interest include the Western Palace, the Roman Ramp, the Synagogue, the three-tiered Northern Palace and the Storerooms. Leaving Masada we travel north then west in route to Jerusalem. After checking into our hotel located within the Old City of Jerusalem, we will venture into the alleyways and byways of the Old City as an orientation and introduction to its many venues. We are at our Jerusalem hotel until departure from Israel. (B,D) 
 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15
JERUSALEM

No printed Bibles are allowed on the Temple Mount; leave your printed Bible at the hotel. E-Bibles are OK to bring. Also refrain from wearing Christian or Jewish jewelry this morning. We depart the hotel at 7:30 am and walk to the Temple Mount. Occupied today by two famous landmarks, the Golden Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Temple Mount once housed the First Temple (built by Solomon; Old Testament period) and the Second Temple (built by Herod; New Testament 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. Leaving the Temple Mount we will enter into the Jewish Quarter and visit a small museum having a multi-media presentation of the historical setting of the Temple Mount within Jerusalem. We remain in the Jewish Quarter to visit excavations preserving several homes of the time of Jesus that reflect the wealth of the ruling classes, whether religious or political rulers. Artifacts and restorations provide us a glimpse into the life of the privileged in Jerusalem. Our first stop will be the Burnt House, so named because of its fiery destruction in 70 AD at the hand of the Roman army. Second, is the Wohl Museum which also presents a complex of grand homes destroyed by the Romans. The Davidson Center and the area of the Southern Steps continue our study of the Temple Mount and its destruction during the first Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD). (B,D) 

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 16
JERUSALEM

Our day begins at the Temple Mount Sifting Project where we will have an opportunity to be guest archaeologists. You will be given several buckets of debris salvaged from illicit construction done at the Temple Mount. After being instructed in the fine art of recognizing artifact remains you will clean, sift, search, and scan your debris for historical treasures. Yes, you will find historical items. A staff archaeologist will gather all items of importance and explain their historical significance to the group. In the afternoon we will visit the Old Testament City of David where we have an opportunity to travel through an Old Testament 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. We all meet at the end, 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). (B,L,D) 

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17
BETHLEHEM and JERUSALEM

This morning we begin with a short drive southeast into the Wilderness of Judah to a site known as the Herodium. This is a 1st Century BC fortification and palace complex built by Herod the Great. Located in view of Bethlehem, the ruins of the fortress provide a unique setting where we can discuss the life, death, rule and complexities of this infamous Jewish ruler. A short drive takes us to Bethlehem. Here we will acquire the services of a local Palestinian guide who will assist us while in Bethlehem. Next is the Church of Nativity which was built above a grotto-cave venerated as the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem is known for its fine olive wood craftsmanship so we will visit a local shop that specializes in olive wood carvings. We return to Jerusalem to the crest of the Mount of Olives for an overview of the Old City, the Temple Mount and the Golden Gate. Here the modern and ancient cities of Jerusalem lie before us in their entire splendor. We will walk down the Mount of Olives to the traditional Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:47). A brief stop at the traditional Tomb of Mary, the mother of Jesus, will end our day. (B,L,D) 

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18
JERUSALEM

Our morning begins at a model of Jerusalem representing the city as it would have appeared in 66 AD, during the period of the New Testament and early church. Based on archaeological and literary documentation, it is a faithful recreation of the city of Jerusalem of that time period. Second, is the Shrine of the Book, dedicated to the discovery, restoration and preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Next is the Israel Museum which houses both archaeological, classical and contemporary artifacts and art of Israel and the Jewish world. The afternoon is spent at Yad Vashem, a large complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, the Children's Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance and other related venues of remembrance. The name "Yad Vashem" is taken from a verse in the Book of Isaiah: "Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 56:5). Naming the Holocaust memorial "yad vashem" (a place and a name) conveys the idea of establishing a national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death. Another goal of Yad Vashem is to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. (B) 

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19
JERUSALEM and DEPARTURE DAY 

Our pilgrimage is nearing its end and there is no more fitting place to celebrate the culmination of our journey than at the Garden Tomb. Here we will celebrate our pilgrimage with fellowship and communion. The grounds are picturesque and invite worship and thanksgiving. This is our last formal pilgrim site. The remainder of the day is free time. For those of you scheduled to depart Israel this evening, an early evening meal will be provided and a bus transfer will depart the hotel at 6:00 pm to take you to the Tel Aviv airport. Your room has been reserved for you until your departure from the hotel. (B,D)

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20
ARRIVE USA
For those of you departing Israel this morning, an early breakfast will be provided and a bus transfer will depart the hotel at 7:30 am to take you to the airport. If you are not on the morning bus transfer check-out time at the hotel is 11:00 am. 

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Testimonials

  • "What a wonderful time we all had in Israel. Steve cannot be beat, as you well know. Seeing unplanned sites and doing impromptu excursions was icing on the cake; this can only happen with people like Steve and Slava who know the areas and care about the interests of the group. Both are people with servant-hearts. I learned a great deal more than I had expected, and have a much better understanding of the setting for Christ's birth and the circumstances/environment of his death. I enjoyed the hikes and we were blessed with perfect weather. Size of the group was a bonus; enjoyed lasting fellowship; never felt like I couldn't get close enough to hear what Steve was saying. Steve deserves many kudos for his spiritual insights, his kindness, knowledge, flexibility, sense of humor, and all-round positive attitude. Thank You!"
    C.J., Israel Trip