ITINERARY

IN THE STEPS OF JESUS THROUGH JUDEA, SAMARIA AND GALILEE
A STUDY IN NEW TESTAMENT BACKGROUNDS

MONDAY, JANUARY 1
DEPARTURE DAY FROM THE USA
See the Flights link. 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2
ARRIVAL DAY IN ISRAEL. WILDERNESS OF PARAN

Upon leaving Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) near Tel Aviv, we have a bus journey of 2 hours to our overnight locale in the south of Israel within the biblical region known as the Wilderness of Paran. Overnight: Mitzpeh Ramon.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3
OUT OF EGYPT I HAVE CALLED MY SON

We begin our journey in the wilderness regions where the Children of Israel sojourned for forty years.  Moving north to Avdat, a Nabatean caravan waystation, we find a city of early Christians on the edge of Wilderness of Zin. Through the canyon of Zin Jesus returned with his parents from Egypt to the Transjordan and Nazareth in Galilee. At Marissa (biblical Mareshah, home of the prophet Micah) in the biblical Shephelah we investigate the archaeological remains from the Hellenistic and Roman city. We conclude our day at Ashkelon, site of the ancient Philistine city and legendary birthplace of Herod the Great. Overnight: Ashkelon.  

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4
ON THE COASTAL PLAIN

Today we travel to sites on the Philistine and Sharon Coastal Plains of the Mediterranean Sea that were important both in the days of the Old Testament the New Testament. At Joppa we recall this city's importantance as a port city during the Old Testament and as home to a community of believers during the New Testament era. Gezer was a prominent Philistine city that continued into the days of the New Testament. It has recently been reexcavated with monumental remains from the days of the Canaanites to the Romans. Moving to the Plain of Sharon we stop at Caesarea, a port city built by Herod and the seat of power for the Roman governors. Here the Apostle Paul was held in house arrest in the seaside residence of Felix and Festus, which had earlier been the Mediterranean villa of Herod the Great. We conclude our day at Dor, a port city already known from the days of King Solomon. Overnight: Dor.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5
THE LAND OF ZEBULON AND NAPHTALI

We trace the geographical regions of Lower Galilee, in the area of Jesus’ early life. Beginning at Nazareth, boyhood home of Jesus we visit the Church of Annunciation, traditional site of Mary’s home. Other first century remains from this village await our exploration. Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee when Jesus, Joseph and Mary lived nearby. Here we gain insights into Jesus’ family life and the challenge that faced the Jewish people in the Roman period. At Jotapata (Yodfat), the home of the Jewish historian Josephus, we receive our first glimpse of the rebellion by citizens of Galilee against Roman rule. Finally from Mount Arbel we receive a majestic overview of settlement around the Sea of Galilee the center of the ministry of Jesus. Overnight: Ein Gev.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6
THE WAY OF THE SEA

Today we travel to the northern borders of the Land of Israel. At Hazor we find evidence of Joshua’s burning “the chief cities of the Canaanites” and later the location of Solomon’s efforts to fortify this northern gateway to the Galilee. Kadesh in the Upper Galilee lay near Isaiah’s Way of the Sea from Dan to Tyre. Tel Dan is one of the most impressive archaeological site on the border of the Land of Israel. Archaeological remains from the time of Abraham and King Jeroboam are scattered within this verdant nature reserve at the headwaters of the Jordan River. At Caesarea Philippi (Banias) we consider Jesus’ pivotal question, “Who do you say that I am?” We conclude our day at the fascinating, new and seldom-visited excavations of Omrit, where we find an impressive Herodian temple. Overnight: Ein Gev.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7
LAND BEYOND THE JORDAN
A full day traveling through the upper regions of the Golan on the western edge of the volcanic Hauran plateau. At Umm el-Kanatir we find a reconstructed Byzantine synagogue. Nearby is Hippos (Susita) one of the Decapolis cities and candidate for Jesus’ “city on a hill.” We hike to the impressive remains at Gamla where the people of this first-century city fought the Romans to their death. Today the ancient city boasts one of the few first-century synagogues. Descending from the Golan Heights to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, we consider the current debate regarding the location of first-century Bethsaida with visits to et-Tell and el-Araj, the latter being the site of Nyack College’s current archaeological efforts. Overnight: Ein Gev. 

MINDAY, JANUARY 8
SEA OF GALILEE

Our destination today is the cities that played an important role in the life and ministry of Jesus. At Chorazin and Capernaum we see important vestiges of these cities from the Roman period. The traditional Mount of Beatitudes serves as the environment to discuss Jesus’ most famous discourse. At the Yigael Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginnosar we are able to see a First-Century Boat rescued from the silted bottom of the lake.  On the Plain of Gennesaret was settled the important lake harbor city of Magdala, where recent excavations have unearthed one of the most impressive first-century synagogues yet found. At Tiberias, built by Herod Antipas, important evidence from the New Testament period is still visible. Our day concludes with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Overnight: Ein Gev.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9
FORTRESSES IN THE WILDERNESS

Leaving behind the Sea of Galilee we descend into the Jordan Valley exploring fortresses built by the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees) aligned to protect the country’s eastern frontier. At Alexandrium (Sartaba) we are rewarded for our climb with a stunning view from this Hellenistic period fortress with its sophisticated water system. At Jericho, made famous by Joshua’s conquest, we see the impressive palatial homes of the Hasmoneans and Herod the GreatKhirbet Qumran is positioned on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, and it was founded as the center of the community who gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls. At Masada we ascend the towering mountain fortress, the last holdout for the Jewish Revolt against the Romans. Finally, we visit the abandoned fortress of Hyrcanium built by the Hasmonean priest leader John Hyrcanus. Overnight: Jerusalem.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10
JERUSALEM: CITY OF THE GREAT KING

Today we explore the archaeological vestiges of Jerusalem from the days of Jesus. We begin at the Herodian Villas (Wohl Museum) where aristocratic priests lived and oversaw activities in the temple. At the Western Wall and excavations along the Southern Wall we witness the glory of first-century Jerusalem. After lunch we ascend to the Haram esh-Sharif, site of Solomon and Herod’s temples. Finally, we visit the impressive archaeological excavations at the City of David where we can see the Stronghold of Zion, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam.  Overnight: Jerusalem.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11
JESUS IN JERUSALEM

In the morning we follow in the footsteps of Jesus visiting places important during the last week of Jesus. On the Mount of Olives we are given an overlook of the city and its surroundings. We descend to Dominus Flavit a church that remembers Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. The place of the Garden of Gethsemane today is remembered by the Church of All Nations. Through the medieval Lion’s Gate we arrive at Saint Anne’s Church location of the Pools of Bethesda. Tracing the Via Dolorosa we arrive to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher place of Jesus’ death and resurrection. After lunch we travel to Bethlehem, where we visit the Church of Nativity and nearby Herodium, desert palace fortress built by Herod the Great. Overnight: Jerusalem.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12
SAMARIA

We take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity to spend a full day in the region of Samaria. We begin at Shiloh where the Tent of Meeting and Ark of the Covenant were first stationed. We continue to Mount Gerizim where we see the important archaeological remains and meet with a Samaritan High Priest who will speak to us about this fascinating community. At Tel Balata we visit the ancient fortifications of Shechem and nearby Jacob’s Well. Finally we travel to the hilltop city of Samaria, which was transformed and renamed by Herod the Great, Sebaste after his benefactor Caesar Augustus. Overnight: Jerusalem.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13
JERUSALEM: FREE DAY:
This is a free day for you to explore the city. 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14
DEPART ISRAEL and RETURN USA
See the Flights link.

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Testimonials

  • "Excellent trip! I enjoyed it very much; especially when we visited those archaeological sites that are not yet open to the public! Geography, History, Culture, Language, Bible exegesis -- multi disciplines in the teaching during the trip. It has been an eye, mind and heart opening experience for me. I really appreciate the teachings as well as all the administrative arrangements. Thank you."
    P.W., Israel Trip