ITINERARY

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30
DEPARTURE DAY
Depart Vancouver. Depart Toronto. See the Flights link for additional information.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31
ARRIVE ISRAEL
DAY AT LEISURE

Our scheduled arrival time in Israel is 9:15 am. After airport customs, we have a 1-hour bus journey to our hotel in Jerusalem. Lunch will be provided at the hotel. The remainder of the day is free time for rest or you can explore the nearby shops or cafes. Overnight Jerusalem, Gloria Hotel. 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1
JERUSALEM DAY AT LEISURE
There are no touring activities scheduled for this day. You are welcome to explore the Old City. Overnight Jerusalem, Gloria Hotel. 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2
GALILEE OF THE GENTILES
NEOT KEDUMIM, BEIT SHEARIM, NAZARETH

Our day begins at a Biblical Landscape Preserve known as Neot Kedumim. The Bible often conveys its ideas not in abstract terms, but through a clear and vivid record of long human interaction with the land of Israel. Neot Kedumim draws on a variety of disciplines (such as Bible scholarship, botany, zoology, geography, history, and archaeology) to bring the Bible to life. We continue north to Beit Shearim, a Jewish Hellenistic and Roman city dating from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. This city is famous for its remarkable necropolis and catacombs carved into the hills. The tombs were of rich Jewish families from many countries and Israel who desired to be buried in the Land of Israel and close to the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Hannasi – the chief of the Sanhedrin and compiler of the 6 parts of the Mishna, which was based on oral traditions and customs. Nazareth will occupy the remainder of the day for us. Here we will visit the Church of the Annunciation, a small museum, and dwellings from the 1st century AD whose excavations include a rolling stone tomb. Our final stop of the day is at Nazareth Village. This is a walk-through living museum with characters and reconstructed building serving as examples of life in 1st century Nazareth. Overnight Sea of Galilee, Ein Gev. 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3
LAND BEYOND THE JORDAN
OMRIT, DAN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, UMM EL-KANATIR

Today we venture north of the Sea of Galilee to examine Old Testament, New Testament, Early Roman and Byzantine remains illustrating 1500 years of regional history. At Omrit (Roman era) we view a small Roman style temple thought to be built by Herod the Great and dedicated to Caesar Augustus. At Dan (OT era), we explore the vital need to capture, fortify and hold strategic military centers in the north. This city was of vital importance to ancient Israel if it was to maintain the unity and security of its northern territories. 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 located within a beautiful National Park where the spring of Dan issues forth volumes of fresh water that serve as one of the sources of the Jordan River. At Caesarea Philippi (NT era), 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). It was from this region that Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. 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. It was also in this vicinity that Jesus asked Peter: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). Our Byzantine era site is Umm el-Kanatir (“Mother of Arches”). Initially, the archaeological site was a large pile of stones left where they had fallen many, many years ago. The entire site was mapped with 3D laser scans, which provided precise locations and measurements for every block, and each block was tagged with a radio-frequency identification microchip for tracking. Using computer imaging and advanced software the stones were restored to their original location thereby rebuilding a portion of a beautiful 6th-8th century AD Jewish synagogue. Overnight Sea of Galilee, Ein Gev. 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4
HERODIAN GALILEE
TIBERIAS, HAMMAT TIBERIAS, MOUNT ARBEL, MAGDALA, 
1ST CENTURY BOAT,
BOAT RIDE ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

Today we travel to the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Here we examine and discuss three primary personalities – Herod Antipas, John the Baptist, and Jesus – and how their lives intertwined. We will have an opportunity to explore the recent excavations taking place in 1st century Tiberias. Near modern Tiberias we will visit a 3rd-4th synagogue which contains a fabulous mosaic floor, one of the earliest mosaics discovered in a synagogue in Israel. Atop Mount Arbel we have a splendid view of the Sea of Galilee as well as the archaeological excavations of Magdala – the home of Mary Magdala – which is our next location to visit. At Magdala a 1st century synagogue has been excavated, as well as several Jewish homes having a ritual purity pool – a mikveh. A beautiful modern chapel overlooks the Sea of Galilee and within this setting we will have an opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist. At nearby Ginnosar, a Sea of Galilee boat dated to the 1st century AD is on display. We conclude our day with a relaxing boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Overnight Sea of Galilee, Ein Gev. 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5
THE MASTER'S STEPS
BETHSAIDA, CHORAZIM, MOUNT OF BEATITUDES, FRANCISCAN CAPERNAUM, GREEK ORTHODOX CAPERNAUM, TALMUDIC VILLAGE, MODERN WINERY

Our morning includes sites and themes central to the second stage of Jesus’ ministry with attention given to his teachings within their contemporary context. Bethsaida is noted in scripture as a fishing village and the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44). A visit to the archaeological remains of et-Tell (Bethsaida?) allows us to discuss Jesus ministry in this area and the difficulty of identifying an archaeological site as a biblical town. Chorazim is located on the northern hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This city (along with Bethsaida and Capernaum) 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 and a residential quarter will draw our attention. Next is a visit to 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). In the afternoon we take time at the Franciscan site of Capernaum to consider Jesus’ teachings and miracles in this lakeside town. A nearby Greek Orthodox church within the ancient village of Capernaum is also dedicated to Jesus’ ministry. It is a charming church with modern paintings on its wall depicting Jesus’ ministry and the four gospel writers. A quick drive north of the Sea of Galilee takes us to the fertile land of the Lower Golan Heights. Here we have two opportunities. The first is a visit to a restored Jewish village of the Talmud Period (70-640 AD) having a 6th century AD synagogue and village housing. The restored ruins, farming implements, and agricultural instillations illustrate village life in this region. Our second site in this area is a modern winery where we can enjoy the fruit of this fertile land. Overnight Sea of Galilee, Ein Gev. 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6
SETTING OUR FACES TOWARD JERUSALEM
BETH ALPHA, BETH SHAN, JERICHO AREA, SAINT GEORGE'S OVERLOOK, MOUNT SCOPUS OVERVIEW

Today we travel to Jerusalem via the Jordan Valley, Jericho, and the Wilderness of Judea. Our first stop is at Beth Alpha, the site of a 6th century Jewish synagogue with interesting mosaics expressing biblical motifs. A short drive brings us to the biblical city of Beth Shean, a Philistine stronghold during the days of Saul. Here we examine the recent excavations of its Roman-Byzantine remains when it was known as Scythopolis, one of the Hellenistic cities of the Decapolis. We continue south via the Jordan Valley to the Old Testament site 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. Jesus visited New Testament Jericho, healed blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46) and stayed at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). Directly west from Jericho are the hills of the Wilderness of Judea which is home to many monasteries of the Byzantine period (324-638 AD), some of which continue to have a monastic lifestyle today. An overview of the 5th century monastery of St. George provides a setting to discuss life, hardship, escape and isolation in this wilderness environment. We continue our drive west through the Wilderness of Judea to Jerusalem and end our day with an overview of the city from Mount Scopus. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7
JERUSALEM'S PAST AND PRESENT
TEMPLE MOUNT, OLD CITY WALK, GARDEN TOMB, WESTERN WALL TUNNELS

We begin our day with a visit 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. However, the Temple Mount is a historical mountaintop which is associated with many points in Scripture. It is here that Abraham presents Isaac as an offering to the Lord (Genesis 22); David purchases the mount from a Jebusite (2 Sam 24:18-25); Solomon builds the Temple on this site (2 Chronicles 22) which is later destroyed. Later, King Herod builds a magnificent Temple on the mount, and it is here where Jesus taught and foretold of its destruction (Luke 19:40-44; 21:20-24) which took place in 70 AD. Upon exiting the Temple Mount, we will venture into the various “Quarters” of the Old City to introduce you to features of importance. Some free time and a visit to the Garden Tomb will conclude our afternoon. In the evening we will visit the Western Wall which is today the most revered site of the Jewish community. Immediately adjacent to the Western Wall is a tunnel complex that exposes the northern continuation of the Western Wall. A local guide will escort us and share his expertise of the excavations. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8
CITY OF THE GREAT KING
JEWISH QUARTER EXCAVATIONS, WOHL MUSEUM, BURNT HOUSE, WESTERN WALL, CITY OF DAVID, GIHON SPRING, POOL OF SILOAM

Our focus today is the physical setting of Jerusalem from the time of King David to Jesus. Our attention turns first to New Testament Jerusalem as we visit several homes from the time of Jesus that reflect the wealth of the ruling classes, both religious and political. Archaeological foundations of several homes and displays of artifacts provide a glimpse into the life of the privileged in Jerusalem. The first homes to be visited are found in the Wohl Museum followed by a visit to another home known as the Burnt House. Just outside the Old City we arrive at the Old Testament site of Jerusalem -- the City of David. A movie illustrates for us the historical and geographical importance of this Old Testament site. After an overview from a viewing platform and a look at recent excavations we arrive at the Gihon Spring complex that supplied water for the city and for the Pool of Siloam mentioned in John 9. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9
BETHLEHEM AND JESUS IN JERUSALEM 
MOUNT OF OLIVES, DOMINUS FLEVIT, GETHSEMANE, SAINT ANNE'S CHURCH, POOLS OF BETHESDA,
VIA DOLOROSA, HOLY SEPULCHER

We travel by bus to the Bethlehem area where we examine the birth narratives of Jesus (Matthew 1-2; Luke 2). Before entering Bethlehem, we will go several kilometers to the east and visit a Fortress-Palace built by Herod the Great. It is known as the Herodium and served as his burial place upon his death in 4 BC. Our primary destination in Bethlehem is the Church of Nativity, a well-preserved Byzantine church built over a grotto-cave venerated as the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem is also renowned for its olive wood craftsmanship and an opportunity will be available to shop at one of the local olive wood stores. We return to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives for an overview of the city and to begin our discussion of Jesus in Jerusalem. Here we recall the events of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus. You have the option to walk down the mount to the Chapel of Dominus Flevit, which is dedicated to the moving event of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as he approached the city on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:41). Our walk will continue to the traditional Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:47) and where we will meet the rest of the group to visit the Church of All Nations. Next, we enter the Old City through St. Stephen’s Gate (Lions Gate) to visit the Church of St. Anne. This well-preserved Crusader church of the 12th century is acoustically exceptional and welcomes group singing. There are various archaeological ruins on the grounds believed to be the Pools of Bethesda mentioned in John 5, where Jesus healed a man who had been ill for 38 years. Leaving the church, we travel along the traditional Via Dolorosa, passing by the “Stations of the Cross,” commemorating the events associated with Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and resurrection. We end our day at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the probable site of Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10
CHILDREN OF THE WILDERNESS
MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, DEAD SEA

Today, we follow in the steps of individuals and communities who lived near the Dead Sea and in the Judean Wilderness areas. We spend the morning at Masada where we consider the fate of the Zealot movement (First Jewish Revolt 66-73 AD) which ended at Masada in the spring of 73 AD. Fortified and embellished by Herod the Great, the site abounds with points of interest: including, the Western Palace, Roman Ramp, Synagogue, Herod’s three-tiered Northern Palace and Storerooms. Then, at the oasis of Ein Gedi, we walk into a canyon to discover a “river in the desert” in the region where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 24). We drive to Qumran, the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and we are invited to think about their relationship to John the Baptist and early Christianity. We conclude our day with a visit to a local beach on the Dead Sea where you will be given an opportunity to float in this unusual Dead Sea water. It is a unique experience. We then return to Jerusalem. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11
CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL 
Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. The church was completed in 1849. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, Christ Church is an evangelical Anglican congregation ministering to expatriates who have come to serve in Israel or the West Bank along with local believers (both Jews and Arabs). Visitors are welcome to attend their worship services. Sunday service begins at 9:30 AM. There is no formal touring scheduled for this day. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12
DEPARTURE DAY
See the Flights link for additional information. 

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Testimonials

  • "Rarely a day passes when I don't think of something we did while on that wonderful trip. During the past year I have received many invitations from churches, Bible study groups, men’s breakfast groups as well as secular organizations to share of my experiences in Israel. God is sure using our time together in Israel as means of sharing his word in ways I would otherwise have never had the opportunity to do. Interest in Israel here in my community is so high at present. I use a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate my message. Many of the photos I use come from the collection you so kindly gave us after our departure - again, thank you. One of your opening remarks I remember was that while we would be introduced to much while in Israel during the two weeks of the tour, we would probably spend a lifetime unpacking the experience in our Christian walk. I think of that often and I want to let you know that your words are proving to be so true. I look forward to one day accompanying you (Wink) and Steve on another tour, perhaps back to Israel or even to Greece and Turkey. I am praying for your ministry and thank God for your work, may He continually richly bless you."
    M.T., Israel Trip