Visit the Magnificent Holy Land
In Tel Aviv, we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We transfer to our motor coach for a short drive to our hotel in Netanya in time for dinner and overnight.This morning, we will depart for the Galilee, visiting Biblical sites at Caesarea (where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion – Acts 10), Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel (where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18). Afterwards, we will stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break (not included) and then continue to Nazareth (Jesus’ childhood home), Cana (location of Jesus’ first miracle – John 2), and the Mt. of Precipice. We will then arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. We begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), with time for reflection and a short devotional study. From here, we make our way to Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry) and then board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We include a visit to the Jesus Boat Museum to view a recently excavated boat dating to the time of Jesus. Our lunch stop includes the option of the special St. Peter’s Fish for those interested (not included). Afterwards, we make our way to Magdala and then to view Gadara. We continue to the Jordan River with an opportunity to stand in the river. Dinner and overnight will be in Tiberias.
Experience Northern Israel
After breakfast, we will travel north for the Golan Heights for a beautiful landscape view of northern Israel. Then, we will head to Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16). We will take a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam before heading to Gideon Springs. Next, we will visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung from the city walls after being defeated by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10-12). Then, we return to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight. After an early breakfast, we make our way to the Dead Sea area. Time and conditions permitting, we will include a visit to Qasr El-Yahud, the newly excavated site where tradition states Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and a short visit to Jericho. We stop at Masada, traveling by cable-car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples, and palaces. We will then drive to Qumran, the settlement of the first-century sect known as the Essenes who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, a short drive takes us to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. Dinner and overnight will be by at our hotel by the Dead Sea, where we can swim/float in the Dead Sea (the lowest physical spot on earth). We depart later this morning to experience Tel Beersheba, the site where the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelled. Time permitting, we will include a visit to the Beit Guvrin caves. Then, we drive to the Elah Valley and the brook where David slew Goliath. From here, we make our way to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Climb the Southern Steps
We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove. Then, we visit the Church of Agony where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate to the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple, the holiest site in the Jewish world. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24:18-25). On this site now stands El-Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock, the third holiest shrine in Islam. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate and walk the Via Dolorosa, which includes St. Anne’s Crusader Church, the Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre followed by a short walk that takes us to the “Southern Steps,” the actual steps that Jesus climbed as he entered the Temple area. We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to Bethlehem, where we will have time for shopping at an olive wood store. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and visit the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s Field. We will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we return to the Western Wall to visit the Rabbis’ Tunnel. After breakfast, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. You will be fascinated by the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Next, we drive to City of David, an incredible archaeological find. We will then take a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). If you want to walk through the tunnel, be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you. For those who do not wish to get wet, the walk through the shaft is available. If time permits, we will have a short visit to the new excavation of the Pool of Siloam. From here, we make our way to the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. We conclude our sightseeing at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship and communion. Then, we have a special Farewell Dinner together, before transferring to Ben Gurion Airport for our return flight home.