DAY 01 Wed . Feb . 02
Depart Cleveland for an overnight international flight to Tel Aviv, with a connection in Newark.
DAY 02 Thu . Feb . 03
ARRIVE / THE SHARON PLAIN AND GALILEE
We arrive at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport this morning where we are met by our Wilcox Tours’ agent. After passport control and baggage claim we will meet our guide, board our bus and drive through the Valley of Sharon North to Caesarea by the Sea. We begin where the baptism of Gentiles began, at Caesarea Maritima (Acts 10). We will include the sunken harbor, the hippodrome, the theatre and the Roman aqueduct. We then drive to Muhraka (“burnt offering”) on Mt. Carmel, with a panoramic view of the Plain of Jezreel. Then we cross the country to the Arbel cliff for a magnificent view over the Sea of Galilee and the sites of Jesus’ mission. Three nights at our hotel overlooking the historic Sea of Galilee.
DAY 03 Fri . Feb . 04
SEA OF GALILEE
After breakfast, we will drive up the Golan Heights for a panoramic view of the lake from the East. We’ll cross to the Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7). Those who wish may walk down the hill to the lake, meeting the group at Tabgha, where Christians have long remembered the first feeding of the multitude (Mark 6). We’ll make a stop at Kursi, where early Christians remembered Jesus’ casting demons into a herd of swine. We then go on to Cana, commemorating Jesus’ transformation of water into wine. In Nazareth we’ll visit the site of the ancient village and the “Church of Mary’s Well.” We continue to Megiddo for the site of biblical Armageddon (Revelation 16). We end the day with a visit to the modern baptismal site at the point where the Jordan flows out of the lake. If you wish to be baptized or reaffirm your faith again by baptism, plan to join this ceremony. We will return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04 Sat . Feb . 05
UPPER GALILEE / TIBERIAS
After breakfast, we begin our day with a refreshing boat ride on the Sea of Galilee in a boat modeled on one from Jesus’ time. Afterwards, we’ll have the opportunity to see the “Jesus Boat” in the Yigal Allon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar, one of several communal farms in Israel. We continue on to Capernaum, where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter (Mark 1 and 2). Bethsaida Archaeological Park has been under excavation since 1987, and is now open to pilgrims from around the world! After our St. Peter fish lunch, we travel to Hazor, the largest Canaanite city, for a brief visit and a view of Mount Hermon and its beautiful surroundings. We continue to Dan, where we combine a nature walk beside the Upper Jordan with views of the ancient ruins, including the Israelite high place that supported a golden calf (I Kings 12). A short drive then takes us to the spring of Caesarea Philippi (Banias) where Peter confessed his recognition of Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16). Here we can visit the stunning remains of a first-century AD palace belonging to Agrippa II. We then drive around Mt. Hermon for a glimpse of Damascus, 45 miles away, before heading back over the Golan Heights to our home on the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
DAY 05 Sun . Feb . 06
BEIT-SHE’AN / JERICHO / JERUSALEM
Today we’ll cross the plain and descend through the Jezreel Valley to Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). Here we shall climb the tel and view the setting for the death of Saul (I Samuel 28 - II Samuel 1). We will then survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. Journey further south to the oldest city in the world, Jericho, settled in 9,000 BC. It is also the lowest, at 820’ below sea level. View the Mt. of Temptation where Jesus was led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil, after His baptism. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qelt, we stop for a look at St. George’s Monastery. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem! We’ll have dinner and the next four overnights in Jerusalem.
DAY 06 Mon . Feb . 07
JERUSALEM / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM
On the Mount of Olives (smile for your group photo) we visit the Church of Ascension, Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of All Nations. In Mt. Zion we visit the Coenaculum - Room of the Last Supper, and Tomb of David; the Church of St. Peter in Galicantu, where Peter denied Christ; three times before the cock crowed. In the Valley of Kidron we will see the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man. Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of old and new Jerusalem. Ephrath - meaning fertility, is now known as Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. In the Church of the Nativity we see a stone manger, where it is believed Jesus was born. We’ll have time for shopping and souvenirs here in Bethlehem. On our return to Jerusalem we’ll drive past the Shepherd’s Field, where the angels announced the birth of Christ.
DAY 07 Tue . Feb . 08
THE RIFT VALLEY
Early this morning we drive through Ein Gedi to visit the fortress Masada, rising 1,200 feet above the desert plain. This mountaintop fortress is where the Jews committed mass-suicide rather than be taken captive by the Romans. See the restoration efforts of remains of buildings dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Afterward, those who wish may enjoy a “float” in the Dead Sea. View Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1948, before visiting the Shrine of the Book, displaying the scroll of Isaiah.
DAY 8 Wed . Feb . 09
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF JERUSALEM
Deep in the heart of Jerusalem we tour the Western Wall Tunnel (also known as “the rabbis tunnel”) and see the Dome of the Rock Mosque, next to the Wailing Wall. Our walking tour in the Old City of Jerusalem will begin by the Lion’s Gate, at the Church of St. Anne, and the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus said to the man “Take up thy bed and walk.” Along the Via Dolorosa - “Sorrowful Road,” we see the stations connected with the crucifixion of Jesus. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre represents the final station where He was crucified. On the Mount of Olives we visit the Paternoster Church, where the Lord’s Prayer is written in 35 languages (the site where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer).
DAY 9 Thu . Feb . 10
JERUSALEM / TEL AVIV AIRPORT
Our final day in Jerusalem we have a leisurely morning before checking out of our hotel. The Holyland Model affords us the opportunity to envision what Jerusalem might have looked like during the reign of King Herod. This magnificent work of art is continually being updated as new archaeological discoveries are being made. We visit Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, dedicated to the six million Jews who lost their lives before and during the World War II. Also, memorials have been placed to the many Gentiles who helped the Jews during this period, risking their lives to do so. This afternoon, a special service and communion will be held at the Garden Tomb. This evening we’ll enjoy a Middle Eastern farewell dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem, before we drive to the airport for our late evening check in for our flight home.
DAY 10 Fri . Feb . 11
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.