ITINERARY

B = Breakfast provided
L = Lunch provided
D = Dinner provided

TUESDAY, JUNE 5
USA DEPARTURE DAY
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6
ARRIVE ISRAEL

We arrive at Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in the afternoon. After an hour of airport formalities, we have a 45 minute bus ride to our hotel located on the Mediterranean Sea in Herzliya (north of Tel Aviv). After check-in, you are free to visit the beach and relax. We are at this hotel for one night only. (D)

THURSDAY, JUNE 7
CAESAREA, MOUNT CARMEL, MEGIDDO

We 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, and Crusader fortifications. We leave Caesarea and continue our journey to Mount Carmel. It was in this vicinity that the prophet Elijah confronted and defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Next is the OT city 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). We will explore various archaeological ruins at Megiddo, including an ancient Canaanite worship center and a dry water tunnel which supplied water in times of peace and especially in times of war. We conclude our day with a view of the Sea of Galilee prior to arriving at our hotel. Dinner at the hotel. We are at this hotel for 3 nights. (B,L,D)

FRIDAY, JUNE 8
HAZOR, DAN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, HAR BENTAL

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. We now ascend to a plateau of land known as the Golan Height. 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. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)

SATURDAY, JUNE 9
NAZARETH VILLAGE, CHURCH OF ANNUNCIATION, CAPERNAUM, MOUNT OF BEATITUDES, 1ST CENTURY BOAT, BOAT RIDE ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

Today we give attention to the life and ministry of Jesus. We begin with a trip to Nazareth – the boyhood home of Jesus. Upon arrival in Nazareth we will visit Nazareth Village, a partial "restoration" of a 1st century village. This restored village has recreated ancient village life as a walk-through exhibit. A local guide will introduce us to 1st century village life. Nearby is the 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. Our next stop 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. Next is 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). We continue to Kibbutz Ginnosar where an ancient Sea-of-Galilee boat (dating to the 1st century AD) was discovered, excavated, preserved and 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. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)

SUNDAY, JUNE 10
JORDAN RIVER, YARDENIT, JERICHO, QUMRAN

Today we travel south via the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. 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. We now drive south through the Jordan Valley to reach the OT city of Jericho. This Canaanite city was the first city to be conquered under the leadership of Joshua as the Israelites made their entry into the Promised Land. Not only did the walls fall down (Joshua 6:20) but a curse (Joshua 6:26) was pronounced upon anyone who would rebuild this city. The city remained abandoned for 500 years until a rebuilding effort (1 Kings 16:34). Jesus visited NT Jericho, healed blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46) and brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). From here Jesus began his final journey to Jerusalem through the rugged terrain of the Wilderness of Judea. Your journey continues south ancient Qumran, the location of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We continue south to our hotel located next to the Dead Sea. Here you have an overnight opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness of this body of water. Dinner at the hotel. You are at this hotel for one night only. (B,L,D)

MONDAY, JUNE 11
MASADA, ST. GEORGE'S OVERLOOK

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 interesting ruins. 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. Following lunch we drive to Jerusalem via the Wilderness of Judea. In the wilderness, tucked away and clinging to a steep cliff is the Monastery of Saint George, one of many Byzantine monasteries that call the wilderness home. Built in 480 AD and improved upon since then, this monastery and the environment serve well as a setting for the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We continue our drive westward through the wilderness until we reach Jerusalem. We end our day with an overview of Jerusalem from Mount Scopus. Dinner at the Notre Dame Hotel. You are at this hotel for 3 nights. (B,L,D)

TUESDAY, JUNE 12
JERUSALEM: TEMPLE MOUNT, WOHL MUSEUM, BURNT HOUSE
BETHLEHEM: CHURCH OF NATIVITY
NOTE: No laptops, tablets or printed Bibles are allowed on the Temple Mount. Leave all of these items in your room today. Cell phones are permitted. Today we begin 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 into the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to visit various archaeological sites. Excavations at the Wohl Museum and the Burnt House present several homes dating to 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 and its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD. The afternoon is spent in Bethlehem. 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 at the hotel. (B,L,D) 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13
JERUSALEM: DAVIDSON CENTER, SOUTHERN STEPS, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH'S TUNNEL, POOL OF SILOAM, MOUNT OF OLIVES, DOMINUS FLAVIT, GETHSEMANE, HOLY SEPULCHER

Our day begins at the Davidson Center where excavations reveal the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount complex and also the steps that gave entrance to the Temple Mount during the NT times. We venture outside of the Old City walls to the City of David located to the south of the Temple Mount. Here we have an opportunity 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. A dry tunnel is also an option. We will all meet at the nearby 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). Leaving the City of David, we travel to the Mount of Olives for an overlook to 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 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 remembering the evening of Jesus' betrayal (Luke 22:47). Note: The evening hours provide an opportunity to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher when most groups have returned to their hotels. Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D) 

THURSDAY, JUNE 14
JERUSALEM: GARDEN TOMB and FREE TIME

Today we visit the Garden Tomb, a locale thought by some to be a possible location of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The grounds are picturesque and invite fellowship, worship and thanksgiving. We will celebrate communion in this beautiful setting as we bring our Israel pilgrimage to a close. The remainder of the day is free time until we depart the hotel for the airport. Dinner at the hotel. Lunch is a personal expense today (B,D)

FRIDAY, JUNE 15
DEPART ISRAEL AND RETURN TO USA
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Testimonials

  • "This was a great program and if I had a chance to do it over again I wouldn’t hesitate. I think your team put in an outstanding effort and deserve more than a pat on the back. I can’t stop thanking you for your commitment to teach us God’s word and open up a knowledge of the land in the life and time of Jesus. Had we done what we had earlier planned to do and tour on our own we would not have learnt a fraction of what you taught us. Even though many people struggled with the climate, I think that that in itself taught us the harshness of the land, and was a good lesson."
    R.A., Israel Trip