DAY 01 Sat . Sep . 18
Today we depart for our overnight flight to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in Newark.
DAY 02 Sun . Sep . 19
We arrive in Tel Aviv early morning and proceed through passport control where we are welcomed by our Wilcox World Travel representative. After claiming our bags, our representative will lead us to the airport exit to meet our guide, board our bus, and begin our tour of the Holy Land. We drive north to the coast of Sharon where the baptism of the Gentiles began at Caesarea Maritima (Acts 10). There we view 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 (Esdraelon--I Kings 18, the confrontation between Elijah and Jezebel with the prophets of Baal). On the way to Nazareth, we pass the ruins of Tel Megiddo (Armageddon, Revelation 16). In Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, we visit The Church of the Annunciation. We continue to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
DAY 03 Mon . Sep . 20
UPPER GALILEE / THE SOURCES OF THE JORDAN
After breakfast, we drive up the Golan Heights for a panoramic view of The Sea of Galilee from the east. We cross over to the Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7). We visit Tabgha where Christians have long remembered the first feeding of the multitude (Mark 6). We then visit Tel Hazor, the largest Canaanite city of the Old Testament. We make our way to Dan where we combine a nature walk beside the upper Jordan River with views of ancient ruins, including the Israelite high place that supported a golden calf (I Kings 12). A short drive takes us to the spring of Caesarea Philippi (Banias) where Peter confessed his recognition of Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16). There we visit the stunning remains of a first-century AD palace belonging to Agrippa II. We view Mt. Hermon then drive around for a glimpse of Damascus, 45 miles away, and then head back over the Golan Heights to our hotel on The Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04 Tue . Sep . 21
BEIT-SHE’AN / A DAY ON THE SEA OF GALILEE
Today we drive south and make our way to Beit-She’an, we drive near Cana where Jesus performed his first sign (John 2). We then cross the plain and descend through the Jezreel Valley to Beth-She’an (one of the cities of the Decapolis). Here we may choose to climb the Tel and view the setting of the death of Saul (I Samuel 31). We survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: the theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, and colonnaded streets. After a St. Peter’s Fish lunch, we make our way to The Primacy of Peter, a church that is thought to be the site where Jesus prepared breakfast for His disciples (John 21). Then on to Capernaum, where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter (Mark 1 and 2). Later we cruise The Sea of Galilee in a wooden boat modeled after one from Jesus’ time (Matthew 14). Tonight we enjoy a special Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 05 Wed . Sep . 22
JERICHO / JERUSALEM
Today we continue south to Jericho. We will drive to the traditional Baptismal site at Qasr El Yehud where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. As we continue, we stop and take a brief look at one of the three surviving fig sycamores in Jericho (Luke 19:1-8.). At Jericho, we visit the Tell of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a view of St. George’s Monastery. From here we take a drive in to Bethlehem before making our way to Jerusalem. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem and proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 06 Thu . Sep . 23
JERUSALEM / BETHLEHEM
Today we begin by making our way to The Mount of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After some orientation, we descend the traditional Palm Sunday road to Dominus Flevit (“The Lord Weeps”) remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19). We continue down to Gethsemane (Matthew 26) with a visit to the garden and The Church of All Nations. We drive to The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. The church stands over the place where Jesus was kept just prior to His crucifixion. We drive toward Bethlehem passing Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s main source of water for almost 2,000 years. We visit The Shepherds’ Field. We then walk through Bethlehem making our way through its alleys and markets to The Church of the Nativity. We travel back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 07 Fri . Sep . 24
THE ANCIENT COUNTRYSIDE
After breakfast we begin our day at The Western Wall, Jerusalem’s holiest site. We walk through The Rabbinical Tunnel and examine two stone blocks each weighing about 600 tons. We visit the southern side of the Temple complex and examine ruins that include steps where we may be certain Jesus and the disciples walked. We drive to the Shrine of The Book and view The Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient artifacts, and an outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD--built to scale! Then we travel to Samaria and enjoy a picturesque drive. We make a stop at Sebastia, believed by some to be the burial place of John the Baptist. Farmers in Sebastia are still uncovering Roman glass as they plow their fields. In Samaria we visit a Greek Orthodox church in the town of ancient Shechem (now Nablus). This modern-day church is built over Jacob’s Well. Then it’s back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 8 Sat . Sep . 25
MASADA /THE DEAD SEA
After breakfast, we drive through Ein Gedi to visit the fortress Masada rising 1,200 feet above the desert plain. We see the restoration efforts of remains of buildings dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries AD. We stop in Ein Gedi and climb a mountain path to the waterfall where David may have hidden when he was running from Saul. We make our way to Qumran where a Bedouin shepherd discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948. Afterward, those who wish may enjoy a “float” in the Dead Sea! Then it’s back to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 9 Sun . Sep . 26
JERUSALEM / THE OLD CITY
We begin our day by ascending to The Temple Mount. There we view The Dome of the Rock and The Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites of Islam. Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period with remarkable acoustics. We follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We then walk through the Arab souks and exit the Old City from The Damascus Gate. We make our way to the Garden Tomb where we conclude our day with a special visit and communion service. In the evening we enjoy a Middle Eastern farewell dinner at the Hotel before driving to the airport for our flight home.
DAY 10 Mon . Sep . 27
Today we arrive in Newark and travel back to Charlotte.