ITINERARY

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28:  ARRIVE ISRAEL
Transportation will be arranged for your transfer from the airport to the hotel in Tiberias. See the Arrival and Departure Information link for additional remarks. After dinner Dr. Motti Aviam will present a lecture on "The Galilee of Herod Antipas." 

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 29:  "GALILEE OF HEROD ANTIPAS"
RUMAH, KHIRBET CANA, JOTAPATA, EL-ARAJ
Today we journey in the geo-political region of Herod Antipas, whom Jesus called “the fox” (Luke 13:32). Leaving the hotel we venture west into Lower Galilee. A few miles northwest of Nazareth we will transfer from our bus to a jeep. Our jeep will provide us access to several sites few people visit. According to rabbinic sources Rumah was the home of Nicodemus, who visited Jesus by night (John 3:1-10). Khirbet Rumah has never been excavated, and this is our chance to see an undisturbed archaeological location. Nearby is Khirbet Qana, the suggested site of Cana of Galilee, where John’s Gospel reports Jesus performed his first miracle (John 2:1-11). Recent excavations at Qana discovered the remains from a Jewish village that existed during the New Testament period. Its location also makes it a likely way station on travel to and from the Sea of Galilee (John 4:46). Our jeep expedition ends with an ascent to the hilltop home of Josephus Flavius at Jotapata (Yodfat). Here the Jewish historian describes the Roman siege of his city, its conquest, and his own capture. Our visit provides the opportunity to consider Jewish hopes for redemption and liberation from Roman rule in the first century as background to our reading of the Gospels. We transfer back to our bus and return to the Sea of Galilee region to visit the excavation site of el-Araj (Bethsaida). Here we will consider the challenge of identifying the New Testament city of Bethsaida and examine the ongoing excavations with Dr. Motti Aviam, the excavation director, and Dr. Steve Notley, the academic director of the el-Araj Excavation Project. We return to our hotel for a late afternoon lecture by Professor Haim Ben-David of Kinneret College. He will be speaking to us about "The Synagogues of the Golan." 

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30 "GOLAN OF HEROD PHILIP"
UMM EL-KANATIR, GAMALA, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, OMRIT 

Today is a full day exploring the land “beyond the Jordan” (Isa 9:1; Matt 4:15) in the region of Herod Philip on the Golan Heights (Luke 3:1). Our first stop is Umm el-Kanatir, the site of a fascinating Byzantine synagogue that has been almost partially reconstructed by the archaeologists. This reconstruction is a marvelous combination of archaeology and computer technology. We will be joined by Dr. Haim Ben-David, who was the co-director of the excavation. His expertise will give us a unique look into Jewish life on the Golan. Next is the historic site of Gamala where we overlook this mountainous city with its well preserved first-century synagogue. Its citizens resisted Roman aggression (67 AD), and Josephus recounts their valor and choice of death over freedom in an incident that has been called “the Masada of the North.” Leaving the heights of Golan we descend to the lower slopes of Mount Hermon to visit Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13). Located on the edge of the biblical borders of the Land of Israel, Herod the Great re-founded this former Hellenistic city and named it in honor of Caesar Augustus. Herod’s son, Philip inherited the rule of the region with a mixed population of Jews and non-Jews. According to Josephus, Herod Philip also founded the city of Bethsaida-Julias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at the southern end of his tetrarchy. Caesarea Philippi and the surrounding countryside were later ruled by Herod the Great’s great-grandson, Herod Agrippa II (28-100 AD) before whom the Apostle Paul testified (Acts 26:1-32). Agrippa II had a palatial home here in which he entertained the Roman general Titus after the fall of Jerusalem. Nearby we see the excavations at Omrit, where archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of a Herodian temple. Could this be the long missing temple to Caesar Augustus which Josephus describes was one of three built by Herod the Great to honor his Roman benefactor? Dr. Mechael Osband of The Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, will join us and offer his expertise at this archaeological site. After an early dinner away from the hotel, we will hear from Dr. Danny Syon, with the Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the excavators of Gamala. Dr. Syon is also an expert on coinage in the Roman period. He will assist us to understand how coins can shed important light on our understanding of history. 

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31 "AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE"
TIBERIAS, MOUNT ARBEL, KURSI, MAGDALA
We begin our day with a visit to ancient Tiberias. Around 20 AD Herod the Great's son, Herod Antipas, moved his administrative capital from Sepphoris (near Nazareth) to this seaside setting and named his new city after the Roman emperor Tiberius. Herodian Tiberias has been excavated in recent years uncovering a monumental gateway, theater, and other important structures. For a spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding regions we travel to nearby Mount Arbel. The area is also noted for its cave structures which provided refuge for those resisting Herod the Great who conquered this area by force as he was establishing his kingdom. We travel to the eastern side of the lake to the modern-day site of Kursi, first-century “Gergesa, which is opposite Galilee” (Luke 8:26). Here Jesus cast demons from the demoniac into the herd of swine. Ongoing excavations have found fishing installations and a Byzantine synagogue with an inscription. Eran Meir from the Shamir Research Institute in the Golan and a field supervisor of the Kursi Beach Excavation will shar his insight as we explore Kursi. We return to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee to visit the recent discovery of a first-century synagogue at Magdala. Other finds of interest include the famous “Magdala Stone,” and priestly homes. The synagogue, stone, and homes help to tell the story of this important Jewish city that was a center of the fishing industry on the lake. In the late afternoon, like Jesus, "we turn our faces towards Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Traveling through the Jordan Valley and the Wilderness of Judea, we arrive in Jerusalem and our hotel. Dinner will be away from the hotel this night. 

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1 "JERUSALEM, CITY OF THE GREAT KING"
WESTERN WALL TUNNELS, CITY OF DAVID, POOL OF SILOAM
Today we travel to Jerusalem. In the first-century there existed a strong connection between Galilee and Jerusalem. Diverging opinions regarding religious issues generally found Jerusalem and Galilee in agreement, while the remainder of Judea would differ. Archaeology has also demonstrated a close association between Jerusalem and Galilee. Jerusalem-made oil lamps are often found at archaeological sites in Galilee underscoring their close connection. Our day in Jerusalem will be led by the archaeologists who know the city best in its first-century setting. Dr. Dan Bahat will escort us through an underground maze of archaeological discoveries known as the Western Wall Tunnels. In the tunnels excavated along the western wall of the Temple Mount, much of early Jerusalem has been brought to light. Following lunch Dr. Gaby Barkay will speak to us about "The Temple Mount Sifting Project" and the significant finds that have been recovered from an unauthorized construction project which took place on the Temple Mount. At the City of David we are led by Eli Shukron, who excavated here for 20 years and is credited with the discovery of the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7). Dinner will be away from the hotel this day.

 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2:  DEPART ISRAEL
Transportation to the airport will be provided. 
See the Arrival and Departure Information link for additional remarks. 

 

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