Experience the Land of
the Bible

Tel Dan, Israel
Yad Vashem in Jerusalem
Ein Gedi, Israel
Belfry Beit Guvrin caves in Israel

Experience the Land of the Bible

We arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport and are met by our Israeli guide and driver. We leave the airport and make a stop in Jaffa. This is where the Jonah story begins, as well as the story of Peter (Acts 10). Both were being asked by God to go to a people outside of Israel with the Good News of God’s grace. We spend our first night in Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean Sea. We enjoy dinner and an orientation meeting to help us prepare for the exciting days of studying God’s Word “in context.” (REGIONS to study: Coastal Plains)  We spend the day in the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. We begin by driving to Gezer. Here we see ruins from Solomon’s day and beyond. The famous “Gezer calendar” was found here. From here, we drive to Beth Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned. Next, we travel to Tel Qeiyafa (a newer archaeological site) and see where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17). As we listen to the story we see how this famous battle took place! Continuing south, we visit the Maresha Caves in Beit Guvrin with hundreds of bell-shaped caves caused by ancient Roman quarrying. This was the home of the prophet Micah (Micah 1). Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 32). Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. We end the day by driving south to Beersheba for overnight. After dinner, we gather to review the day and prepare for tomorrow. (REGIONS to study: Shephelah, Negev)  Our first stop of the day is the ancient site of Beersheba, the primary city in the Biblical Negev. We see the well and gate structure, the rounded streets, and a typical four room Israelite house (Genesis 21). Next, we drive south to Sde Boker, the site of the tomb of Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. Here we learn about the history of the State of Israel. Next, we enjoy hiking in the majestic canyon of the Wilderness of Zin and we have the option to hike all the way to the opposite rim of the canyon. After lunch at Avdat (not included), we drive to the archaeological site of Arad, a Canaanite and later Israelite city where Josiah enacted his reforms (2 Chronicles 34). We end the day by driving into the Judean Desert and we spend the night at Kfar Hanokdim. Here we experience the uniqueness of desert life, even a 30-minute camel ride out into the desert! Accommodations include “Bedouin tent” dwellings (upgrades must be reserved in advance, at an additional cost). Following dinner, we enjoy a time of worship under the stars. (REGIONS to study: The Negev, Judean Desert)

Hike in the Valley of Ein Gedi

Following breakfast, we approach the famous site of Masada from the west. Uniquely, we walk up the Roman ramp. Those who don’t wish to climb will be driven around to the eastern side, a 1.5 hour ride, and ascend to the top in the cable car. While you wait for the group to finish the guided tour, you will be fascinated with the view. We hear the story of the Jewish zealots who resisted the Romans for three years after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. Leaving the site, we have the option of walking down the Snake Path, while others ride the cable car down. Next, we drive north along the Dead Sea to Ein Gedi, where we relive the story of David hiding in a cave from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). We have a chance to hike into the valley, enjoying the waterfalls as well as soaking our feet in the cool waters. Further north is Qumran, the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those who want to can spend time hiking near some of the caves where the scrolls were discovered. At the site, we see first century miqvot (ritual baths), a scriptorium, and cisterns. We then visit nearby Jericho. Here we see the oldest structure in Israel as well as a portion of the actual revetment wall dating to the time of Joshua (Joshua 6). We end the day by floating in the Dead Sea. Nearby we stay the night at Al Mog, a Jewish kibbutz. After dinner, we again meet to review the day’s encounters. (REGIONS to study: Aravah Valley, Dead Sea, Judean Desert)  We begin the day with a beautiful view of the Judean Desert (*Note: there will be an opportunity to hike down into the Wadi Qelt on Day 12). We will hear the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23 set in the context of this part of the Judean Desert. We then drive through the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13), Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), and Bethel (Genesis 15, 28) to the newly-uncovered site of Shiloh. Here we revisit the stories of Eli and Samuel and the Ark (1 Samuel 2-4) and see where the Tabernacle once stood. We then drive through the hill country of Samaria, talking about the stories that occurred at Shechem (Joshua 24), and Sychar (John 4). Our next site is Beth Shean, a massive Roman city. In the days of the Old Testament, this is also where the body of Saul was hung on the city walls (1 Samuel 31). In the Roman city we will see bathhouses, mosaics, pillars, the market place, and the theater. We drive north to the Sea of Galilee area to Tiberias where we will spend the next three nights. Following dinner, we meet on the quiet shoreline to review the day. (REGIONS to study: Judean Desert, Samaritan Hill Country, Jordan River Valley, Sea of Galilee)  We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain NW of the Sea of Galilee. An option will be given to hike to the top of this 800-foot cliff (the bus will take others to the top from the other side). The view from on top is the best there is of the whole Sea of Galilee! From here we drive to the southern end of the lake for an optional baptism service. We reaffirm our faith in Christ in the waters of the Jordan River (Yardenit). Driving back to the NW corner of the lake we visit Magdala. Here we see another ancient synagogue that dates to the time of Christ. Mary “Magdalene” was also from here (Luke 8). Following lunch, we visit Chorizim, one of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11). We see the basaltic ruins and synagogue which dates to the 3rd century. Capernaum is next, the home center of ministry for Jesus in Galilee. Here we read from the Gospels about the many things that took place here (Mark 1,2, 9; Luke 7; & John 6) in the 4th-5th century synagogue. In midafternoon, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service together. We recall the storm narratives (Mark 4 & 6). Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found here along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We end the day on the Mt. Of Beatitudes. Here we will sit on the rocks and listen to the reading of Matthew 5. An option will be given to walk down to the water’s edge. We return to the hotel for dinner and a free evening. (REGIONS to study: Lower Galilee, Sea of Galilee)

See the Amazing Archaeological Site of Dan

We begin the day by driving into the Golan Heights. Stopping on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, we are able to see the area of the Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6). Our first stop will be at the new excavations of El Araj, possibly Bethsaida, the home of Peter, Andrew, and Phillip (John 1). Our second stop is Gamla, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s A.D. Here we will look down to a first century synagogue (one of seven that date to the first century), as well as the other ruins of the city. Gamal is called the “Masada of the north.” Close by is the site of Qatzrin, a partially reconstructed Talmudic village. We see what a typical village looked like during the days of Jesus. Sitting in a reconstructed stone house, we’ll read from Mark 2 about the lame man being lowered down to Jesus through the roof. Driving north and east to the border, we will look across the border to see southern Syria. Here we learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Next, we visit Mt. Hermon (Psalm 133). We will ride the ski chair lift to the top for a spectacular view of the region! An option will be given to hike back down the trail. Descending down from the Golan Heights we visit Caesarea Philippi. It was here where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16). Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. We walk through this quiet national park and impressive Old Testament city and hear the stories of disobedience that took place here (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12). On our way back and if time allows, we will visit the border with Lebanon. We drive back to our hotel in Tiberias. After dinner, we again meet together to review the day. (REGIONS to study: Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, Huleh Valley)  This morning we head towards the Lower Galilee. Our first stop is Sepporis. This was the largest city in the Lower Galilee during the days of Jesus. Here we will see impressive mosaics, including the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Next, we travel towards Nazareth. We view the city in which Jesus grew up from the “precipice.” Here we enjoy our first full view of the Jezreel Valley. We’ll talk about Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5) and the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7) among other stories form the OT. We continue into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo (Har Megiddo in Hebrew), which gave its name to Armageddon (Revelation 16). We see some of the many ruins here, including gate structures, storage rooms, a sacrificial altar, a grain silo, and the water system. Winding our way through the Mt. Carmel range, we visit Muhraqa, where we read the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Our last site is Caesarea Maritima, to view part of the city initially built by Herod the Great. We visit the theater, palace area, and aqueduct. From here we drive to Jerusalem. After checking in to the hotel and later dinner, we enjoy an “orientation walk” to the Western Wall within the Old City. (REGIONS to study: Lower Galilee, Jezreel Valley, Carmel Range, Sharon Plain, Hill Country of Judah, Jerusalem)  We start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday Road to the church known as the Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”). We stop to read the passages related to this area (Luke 19, Acts 1, Zechariah 14). After viewing the Golden Gate, we walk downhill to Gethsemane, where we take me to for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. In the afternoon we visit Herodium, located on the edge of the Judean Desert, where Herod the Great was buried (Matthew 2). We see the brand-new excavations related to Herod’s tomb! We end the day by visiting the Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem. We step into a cave and read from Luke 2 as well as sing a few Christmas carols. We will also stop at an olive wood factory and store. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and another walk around the city. (REGION to study: Jerusalem)

Visit Yad Vashem – Holocaust Museum

We begin the day by entering the Old City and walk 400 yards through the Western Wall Tunnel along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. From here we visit the Jewish Quarter. We first visit the Herodian House. Here we will see ruins of a massive house dating to the 1st century that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. We also visit Shoreshim where we hear Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, talk about his faith. In the afternoon, we drive to West Jerusalem where we visit Israel’s Holocaust Museum called Yad Vashem. We will see the the Valley of the Communities, the Children’s Memorial and then walk through the museum on our own. We end the day at the Israel Museum. We will see the spectacular 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple Period. We will also walk through the Shrine of the Book to see a few of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Lastly, we will see some of the highlight artifacts in the archaeological museum. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. Tonight is a free night to explore the city on your own. (REGION to study: Jerusalem)  Today, will be a unique day. We begin this morning by driving to the Judean Desert. Here we will hike down into the canyon of the Wadi Qelt. We will see St. George’s monastery built into the cliff of the canyon. You will also have the opportunity to hike east to a place overlooking New Testament Jericho! About noon we return to Jerusalem for free time on your own. You can decide to explore the Old City on your own, or shop, or rest. (Please note: The morning hike is optional. If you decide not to do the hike, the entire day is free for you at your leisure. We return to our hotel and enjoy dinner followed by a free evening (REGION to study: Judean Desert, Jerusalem)  This morning begins with a visit to the City of David (2 Samuel 5) and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to can take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long, 2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 8 & 37). We then sit on the steps of the Siloam Pool and listen to the story of the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9). From here we walk to the southern Temple excavations through a 1,300 foot newly-discovered Herodian drainage tunnel. We exit at the southwest corner of the Temple and the southern steps. We see the massive stones erected by King Herod and sit on the very steps used by Jesus and His disciples. After a later lunch in the Jewish Quarter, we enjoy a few hours of free time. We end the day with a Communion Service at the Garden Tomb, a second possible site for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Following this meaningful service, we enjoy our farewell dinner! We then load the bus and drive to the airport for the overnight flight home. (REGION to study: Jerusalem)