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. 
 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 29:  "GALILEE OF HEROD ANTIPAS"
SEPPHORIS, RUMAH, KHIRBET CANA, JOTAPATA, TIBERIAS
Today we journey in the region of Herod Antipas, whom Jesus called “the fox” (Luke 13:32). At the beginning of his administration, the capital of Galilee was at Sepphoris, only a short walk from Nazareth. Joseph and Jesus could easily have traveled there by foot. We begin our day with a visit led by Dr. Aviam to examine the Roman-era remains of the capital of Galilee during Jesus’ youth, and to consider the question of what marks the founding of a Jewish city (as distinguished from a town or village). We continue by jeep to three nearby sites rarely visited. 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 Khirbet Qana is 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 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 conclude our day with a visit to ancient Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. Around 20 CE Antipas moved his capital 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. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias; U Boutique Kinneret Hotel. 

 

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

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). We travel north to Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13) on the edge of the biblical borders of the Land of Israel, where Herod the Great re-founded a 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 CE) before whom the Apostle Paul testified (Acts 26:1-32). We will once again be guided by Dr. Aviam in our visit to the palatial home of Agrippa II 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? Returning south through the Golan Heights we visit two sites that illustrate the Jewish presence in the region. At Gamala we overlook this mountainous city with its well preserved first-century synagogue. Its citizens resisted Roman aggression, and Josephus recounts their valor and choice of death over freedom in an incident that has been called “the Masada of the North.” Before returning to our hotel, we visit Umm el-Kanatir, the site of a fascinating Byzantine synagogue that has been almost fully reconstructed by the archaeologists. It is a marvelous combination of archaeology and computer technology. Our visit to Umm el-Kanatir will be led by the site’s archaeologist Professor Haim Ben-David of Kinneret College. In the evening, 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. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias; U Boutique Kinneret Hotel.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31 "AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE"
MAGDALA, KURSI, EL-ARAJ
Our third and final day of exploring first-century Galilee will be to Jewish settlements around the lake. Recent exciting discoveries at Magdala of a first-century synagogue, the famous “Magdala Stone,” and priestly homes help to tell the story of this important Jewish city that was a center of the fishing industry on the lake. We travel to the eastern side of the lake to the modern-day site 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. The director of the archaeological excavation Dr. Haim Cohen will bring us up to date on this important investigation. Discoveries at Kursi can assist in answering questions raised by the nearby el-Araj (Bethsaida) excavations. The highpoint in our three-day study-expedition of first-century Galilee will be our visit to the new excavations at el-Araj. We will consider the challenge of identifying New Testament Bethsaida together with a visit to the site to examine the ongoing excavations. The visit of el-Araj will be led by Dr. Aviam, the excavation director, and Dr. Notley, the academic director of the el-Araj excavations. Dinner at Villa V Gourmet Restaurant in Had Ness. Overnight in Tiberias; U Boutique Kinneret Hotel.

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1 "JERUSALEM, CITY OF THE GREAT KING"
CITY OF DAVID, POOL OF SILOAM, WESTERN WALL TUNNELS
After breakfast, we transfer 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. 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). In the tunnels excavated along the western wall of the Temple Mount, much of early Jerusalem has been brought to light. In our visit, we are guided by the longtime regional archaeologist Dan Bahat, one of the foremost authorities on the archeology of Jerusalem. In the afternoon, we are treated to a lecture by Dr. Gabriel Barkay, one of the leading archaeologists in Israel today. He is credited with the discovery of the famous silver amulet with the priestly blessing (Num 6:24-26), the oldest biblical inscription with the divine name (YHWH) ever found in Jerusalem. In recent years, Dr. Barkay has led the “Sifting Project” which includes archaeological remains from the Temple Mount. These finds have shed valuable light on this important site. He will conclude our time in Jerusalem with a short lecture on what the Sifting Project can tell us about first-century Jerusalem. Dinner in Jerusalem at Satiya Restaurant. Overnight in Jerusalem; Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

 

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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