ITINERARY

B = Breakfast provided
D = Dinner provided
Lunches are a persoal expense

 
THURSDAY, APRIL 23
ARRIVAL DAY IN ISRAEL

The first overnight is in Tel Aviv. See the link: Arrival and Departure Infomation. (D)
 

FRIDAY, APRIL 24
CULTURES IN CONFLICT

Our day begins with a mornng drive through the region of the Sharon Plain to 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, Crusader fortifications and the Roman-era aqueduct. We leave Caesarea and continue our journey northward to the site of Sepphoris. Located only a few miles from Nazareth, Sepphoris served as the capital of Galilee during Jesus' early life and likely offered employment to those living in nearby Nazareth. We end our day in Nazareth, with a visit to the Church of Annunciation, the traditional site of Mary’s home. Overnight: Ein Gev Holiday Village. We are at this hotel for four nights. (B,D)  

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 25
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM

We begin our day with a drive to the north. Our first site is Caesarea Philippi, on the lower slopes of Mount Hermon. Here, 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). One of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River is located here and 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. Leaving Caesarea Philippi we journey a short distance to Omrit. At Omrit we examine a small Roman Temple thought to be dedicated to the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Who built it and why it was built has a story to tell us about NT rulers and political favors. We ascend to the Golan Heights to visit the 1st century Jewish city of Gamla. During the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD), Gamla witnessed the full force of the Roman army in 67AD and fell victim to its superiority. Our final stop of the day is Umm el-Kanatir (“Mother of Arches”). Initially, this archaeological site was a large pile of stones left where they had fallen many, many years ago, probably due to earthquake activity. 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: Ein Gev Holiday Village. (B,D)

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 26
THE EVANGELICAL TRIANGLE

Today we give attention to the ministry of Jesus around the Sea of Galilee. We begin with a visit to an ancient city considered by many scholars (although not all) to be the location of Bethsaida of the NT. In the hill above Bethsaida (?) we come to the location of NT Chorazin. 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 provides us the opportunity to discuss the various elements of synagogue worship during New Testament times. Next, we will spend time on the northern slopes of the Sea of Galilee at the site known as 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). Located at the base of this hill and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee is a small church known as the Primacy of St. Peter having remnants dating back to the 4th century AD. The historical records indicate that this church was dedicated to the events of Jesus’ resurrection appearance along the sea shore (John 21:9). A short drive to the east brings us to Capernaum, the headquarters city of Jesus’ Sea of Galilee ministry. We travel to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee to Kibbutz Ginnosar where an ancient Sea-of-Galilee boat (dating to the 1st century AD) was discovered, excavated, preserved, and is displayed. We conclude our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Overnight: Ein Gev Holiday Village. (B,D)

 

MONDAY, APRIL 27
AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE
Today we venture around the Sea of Galilee looking at additional sites that reflect NT and later Byzantine remains. Our day begins at Kursi, the probable location of the meeting between Jesus, the demoniac, and the swine being cast into the sea (Luke 8:26-39; Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34). Rex will be able to add some first-hand information here since he excavated at Kursi some years ago. Next is el-Araj. This site is currently under excavation by Dr. Steve Notley and several consortium institutions. The site is viewed as a possible candidate for the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida mentioned in the gospels and noted as the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44). Tabgha is dedicated to the event of the feeding of the 5,000 (which probably took place closer to Bethsaida). The church was first built in the 4th century AD and rebuilt in the 5th century, making it contemporary with the church at Kursi. Magdala, the home of Mary of Magdala, has under gone extensive excavations since 2009. The most exciting find is that of a synagogue dating to the 1st century AD -- the time of Jesus' ministry. Nearby, homes of several Jewish residences reflect the religious piety of some of the city’s 1st century inhabitants. NT Tiberias was built by Herod Antipas as his second capital city of Galilee (replacing Sepphoris). It served as the capital during Jesus' ministry at the Sea of Galilee. A theater is preserved but not restored. The final stop of the day is at Hammat Tiberias. “Hammat” is a Hebrew expression representing “hot springs”. There are 17 hot springs in this area and some are used today in modern health spa hotels. Also located here is a beautiful late 3rd century AD synagogue having a floor mosaic of exceptional workmanship with Jewish and non-Jewish subject matter. Overnight: Ein Gev Holiday Village. (B,D) 

 

TUESDAY, APRIL 28
SETTING OUR FACES TOWARD JERUSALEM

We check out of our hotel and travel into the Harod Valley to visit three sites of interest. The first is Ein Harod, where Gideon and his band of warriors gathered together to fight against the Midianites from the east who for seven years had invaded the area and captured the local produce of the land. (Judges 6-8). It was at Ein Harod (the spring of Harod) where Gideon's men drank water from the spring in such a manner that it determined their worthiness for battle. Next is Beth Alpha, a 6th century Jewish synagogue site located at the foot of Mount Gilboa and near Beth Shan. The ancient synagogue is covered with a colorful mosaic floor whose subject matter is similar to that viewed at Hammat Tiberias. However, at Beth Alpha the mosaic work has a more primitive look to it. Next is the impressive archaeological site of Beth Shan, a Philistine stronghold during the days of Saul and David. In its vicinity stands Mount Gilboa, the location of King Saul's final battle against the Philistines. Saul died atop Mount Gilboa and his body was taken to Beth Shan by the Philistines and unceremoniously hung on the walls of the city as a trophy (1 Samuel 31). At the base of the Old Testament tell are the excavations of the city’s Roman-Byzantine remains when it was known as Scythopolis, one of the cities of the Decapolis. Scythopolis is a good example of the architecture of a "polis" city, having all the primary public buildings of a favored Greco-Roman city. Our travels continue south via the Jordan Valley to the areas of OT and NT Jericho. Represented by two different archaeological sites, OT Jericho 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). In view to the west is the traditional Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4:8) and looking to the east from Jericho we can see across the Jordan Valley to the region of Mount Nebo. We conclude our day with a drive west through the Wilderness of Judea to Jerusalem. Overnight: Notre Dame, Jerusalem. We are at this hotel for seven nights. (B,D) 

 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29
JERUSALEM'S PAST AND PRESENT

NOTE: No Bibles, tablets, or laptops are allowed on the Temple Mount. Leave these items at the hotel this morning.Also, refrain from wearing Christian or Jewish jewelry this morning. We depart the hotel at 7:30 am and walk 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; OT Testament 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 Samuel 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 visit a small museum (Ben Zvi) having a multi-media presentation that will give us an overview of the topography of Jerusalem and how the city developed from a small Canaanite town to the capital of the Israelite nation. In the afternoon we will visit the OT City of David where 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 (no flip-flops). Others can travel through a dry tunnel. We all meet at the end, at the 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). From the Pool of Siloam we will walk underground through an ancient rain-water "sewer" channel used in the NT period. This channel will return us to an area within the Old City walls. Overnight: Notre Dame. (B,D)

 

THURSDAY, APRIL 30
CITY OF THE GREAT KING

This morning we will walk to the Jewish Quarter to visit excavations preserving several homes dated to the time of Jesus that reflect the wealth of the ruling classes, whether religious or political rulers. We begin at the Wohl Museum where several homes are preserved that give us a glimpse into the life of the privileged class in Jerusalem. The homes are substantial in size, have "Pompei-style" decor, and were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD during the First Jewish Revolt. Nearby is the Burnt House, another preserved home of the 1st century AD. This home is known to have been owned by a priestly family of Jerusalem. It too was destroyed by the Romans. Next, is a return visit to the Roman destruction of the Temple Mount area within the Davidson Center grounds for additional discussion. On the south side of the Temple Mount is a series of steps dated to the 1st century AD. These steps lead to two major underground entrances-exits that provide accesses to the Temple Court of the Gentiles in the days of Jesus' ministry. Adjacent to the steps are ritual baths that were utilized for purity emersion purposes prior to entering the Temple. After some free time in the Old City, we will re-group for a visit to the Western Wall Tunnels. Here, we will explore underground the northern continuation of the present day Western Wall. Overnight: Notre Dame. (B,D) 

 

FRIDAY, MAY 1
JESUS IN JERUSALEM and BETHLEHEM

We begin our day at the Mount of Olives for an overview of the city and a discussion of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21-27; Mark 11-15; Luke 19-23; John 12-19). Continuing our discussion of Passion Week, we walk down the Mount of Olives to a site dedicated to the event of Jesus weeping for Jerusalem and predicting its destruction (Luke 19:37-44). Known as Dominus Flevit (the Lord Wept) a modern chapel sits atop a 5th century Byzantine church. The teardrop motif of the modern chapel helps us to recall the emotional grief expressed by Jesus, who only a short time earlier was experiencing the exhilaration of the crowds shouting "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Matthew 21:9). At the base of the Mount of Olives we come to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations (Basilica of Agony) which is built over a 4th century Byzantine church housing a rock venerated as the place where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony the night of his betrayal (Luke 22:44-49). Here, the modern architecture within the church portrays a mood of darkness, agony, betrayal and arrest. We enter the Old City at Lions Gate (St. Stephen's Gate) and proceed to the Church of Saint Anne. Within the grounds of this religious compound are found the Pools of Bethesda mentioned in John 5:2 where Jesus healed a man who had been ill for 38 years. The church on the grounds is the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. Dating from the 12 century AD, the church is built atop a 5th century AD Byzantine church that was dedicated as the place of Mary's birth, whose mother is known as Anne by early church traditions. Our journey continues along the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Sorrow) until we arrive at the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulcher), the probable location of Jesus' crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection (Matthew 27:32-28:10). The first church here was established by Constantine the Great in 326 AD. Constantine’s church was burned by Persians in 614 AD, restored, destroyed by Muslims in 1009 AD and partially rebuilt. The Crusaders completed the reconstruction in 1149 AD and it is essentially the church of today. Leaving Jerusalem, we travel southeast into the Wilderness of Judah to a site known as the Herodium. This is a 1st century BC fortification and palace complex built by Herod the Great. Located in view of Bethlehem, the ruins of the fortress provide a unique setting where we can discuss the life, death, rule and complexities of this infamous Jewish ruler. A short drive takes us to Bethlehem where we will visit the Church of Nativity. The original church was commissioned by Constantine the Great and dedicated in 339 AD. Emperor Justinian rebuilt the church in the 5th century AD, and the Crusaders added wall mosaics in the 12 century AD. The church is built atop a cave venerated as the place of Jesus' birth. Due to the long waiting time associated with a visit to the grotto-cave, we will limit our time to the basilica itself and the adjacent Church of Saint Catherine. Bethlehem is known for its fine olive wood craftsmanship so we will visit a local shop that specializes in olive wood carvings and other products. Overnight: Notre Dame. (B,D)

 

SATURDAY, MAY 2
CHILDREN OF THE WILDERNESS 

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 the 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 body of water. It is a unique experience. Towels and changing areas are provided. We then return to Jerusalem. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. (B,D)

 

SUNDAY, MAY 3
JERUSALEM MUSEUMS

Our morning begins at a model of Jerusalem representing the city as it would have appeared in 66 AD, during the period of the New Testament and early church. Based on archaeological and literary documentation, it is a visual recreation of the city of Jerusalem of that time period. Second, is the Shrine of the Book, dedicated to the discovery, restoration, and preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Next is the Israel Museum which houses both archaeological, classical and contemporary artifacts and art of Israel and the Jewish world. Of particular interest for us will be the archaeological wing which displays many artifacts from the sites we have visited during our time in Israel. Nearby is the Bible Lands Museum. This museum began as a private collection. Twenty different galleries in historical chronological order place visitors within a context of biblical cultures, themes, and selected passages. The afternoon takes us to the Temple Mount Sifting Project where we will have an opportunity to be guest archaeologists. Buckets of archaeological material will be made available to you. After being instructed in the fine art of recognizing artifactual remains, you will clean, sift, and search your debris for historical treasures. Yes, you will find actual historical items from an active archaeological site. A staff archaeologist will gather all items of importance and explain their historical significance to the group. Following dinner, we will enjoy a Sound and Light show at the Citadel of David. The walls of the citadel provide a stage for a multi-sensory experience showcasing Jerusalem through the years. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. (B,D) 

 

MONDAY, MAY 4
JERUSALEM FREE DAY 
Today is a free day for you to do as you please. You are welcome to visit other venues throughout the city and continue your exploration of the Old City. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. (B,D) 

NOTE: Some of you may have scheduled your departure from Israel on this day. You may ask for a taxi at the front desk. Cost is $90-$100 and the cost can be shared according to the number of riders. You are welcome to keep your room until it is necessary for you to leave for the airport.

NOTE: Please see the Arrival and Departure Information link for additional information. 

 

TUESDAY, MAY 5
DEPARTURE DAY 
This is the scheduled departure day. Check out time is 11:00 AM. See the link: Arrival and Departure Infomation. (B)