DAY 01 Thu . May . 25
DEPART LITTLE ROCK
Depart for an overnight international flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in Chicago.
DAY 02 Fri . May . 26
ARRIVE IN TEL AVIV
We land this afternoon at the Ben Gurion Airport. After clearing customs, we will be met by our guide who will take us on a scenic drive through Jaffa, the oldest port in the world. Jonah set sail for Tarshish from Jaffa but was swallowed by a whale. Jaffa was also the home of Tabitha, who was raised from the dead by Peter. Peter had his vision here while lodging in the home of Simon the Tanner. We then drive to our hotel in Tel Aviv overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
DAY 03 Sat . May . 27
THE SHARON PLAIN AND THE GALILEE
This morning we drive north through the Sharon Valley and head to Caesarea. We begin where the baptism of Gentiles began at Caesarea Maritima (Focus on Acts 10). We include the sunken harbor, the hippodrome, the theatre and the Roman aqueduct. Then we drive to Muhraka ("burnt offering") on Mt. Carmel, with a panorama of the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon). After surveying the Plain of Jezreel, we proceed to Nazareth. Our first stop will be at Nazareth Village, a living history farm and village that gives you the opportunity to experience what Nazareth was like at the time of Jesus and Mary. We then walk-through part of the ancient village and visit Mary's Well and the Church of Annunciation. We drive towards the Sea of Galilee and stop at Cana, commemorating Jesus' transformation of water into wine. We end the day at the Arbel cliff, which affords a view over the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus' ministry. We have dinner and overnight on the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 04 Sun . May . 28
SEA OF GALILEE AND UPPER GALILEE
After an early breakfast we start our day with a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, where we visit the synagogue and the place where early Christians remembered Peter's house. We continue to Tabgha (short for Heptapagon, "seven springs") to view the mosaics in the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. Ascending the Mt. of Beatitudes, we listen to Jesus' teachings. On an ancient trade route, we pass Hazor and then go on to Dan. Here we do a nature walk and visit the high place where Jeroboam son of Nebat set up a golden calf. We continue to Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter answered Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" Our route then takes us over the Golan Heights, skirting Mt. Hermon, with a view toward Damascus. We end our day at the modern Baptismal site of the Yardenit where you have the possibility to be baptized or reaffirm your faith again by baptism, plan to join this ceremony.
DAY 05 Mon . May . 29
JORDAN VALLEY / MEGIDDO / SEBASTE / JACOB’S WELL
After an early breakfast we drive down into the Jordan Valley down to the strategic crossing point between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel which is located in the city of Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). Here, we will view the setting of Saul’s death. We survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. We drive through the Jezreel Valley west to Ein Harod (Judges 7), which describes Gideon’s actions in thinning out his army. This is where he brought the men to the spring and sorted them on the basis of how they drank from the water. We continue west down to the mound of Megiddo, har megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon. Afterwards, we drive back east and then south passing through the Valley of Dothan where Joseph’s brothers left him in a cistern, we drive to Samaria, the capital city of Ahab and Jezebel. Here we can bring many First Testament stories to life. Herod later rebuilt Samaria and called it Sebastia. Thus, we have a mixture of Israelite and Roman ruins. Here we will have the opportunity to have a very traditional lunch before we continue eastward through the narrow pass between the mountains Ebal and Gerizim to the tel of ancient Shechem, first destination in the land both for Abram (Genesis 12:6) and his returning grandson (33:18). We then visit Jacob’s Well nearby. From here we head toward Jerusalem, passing Shiloh, Bethel, Mitzpeh, Rama and Gibeon to Mount Scopus, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, for a brief introduction and welcome.
DAY 06 Tue . May . 30
JERUSALEM / MT. OF OLIVES / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM
Start the day on the Mt. of Olives for an orientation to the city. Visit the church of Pater Noster to see the church dedicated to the Lord's Prayer depicting several languages of the world done in ceramic covering the walls of the Church. Have an opportunity to read the Lord's prayer in Aramaic in the language that Christ have taught his disciples. Then descend the traditional Palm Sunday Road stopping at the church of Dominus Flevit - The Lord Weeps. We continue down to the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane with a visit to the garden and the church where you can have some quiet time. Then drive along the Kidron Valley. Part of the Kidron that we view below is called the Valley of Jehosafat, where God will judge the nations of the world. Continue up Mt. Zion to the church grounds called Peter in Gallicantu, where Peter denied Christ; three times before the cock crowed - also known as the House of Caiaphas, where Jesus was brought after his arrest. Driving south to the Bethlehem region passing Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, we go to Shepherds’ Fields where we will have lunch. It is at the Shepherd’s Fields the angels announced the birth of Christ. We then visit Bethlehem, where we will walk through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. In the Church of the Nativity we see a stone manger, where it is believed Jesus was born. This site next to the inn was where the animals were kept and fed. Today a Silver Star marks the spot of His divine birth. We’ll have time for shopping and souvenirs here in Bethlehem before we return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 07 Wed . May . 31
THE RIFT VALLEY / MASADA
This morning we drive on the western shores of the Dead Sea to the southernmost point, Masada, last stronghold of the Jewish rebels in 73 AD rising 1,200 feet above the desert plain. See the restoration efforts on remains of buildings dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries AD. We then drive north to Qumran for a look at one of the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1948. We stop at Ein Gedi and climb a mountain path to the waterfall where David may have hidden when he was running from Saul. Afterward, those who wish may enjoy a “float” in the Dead Sea. We continue driving to Jericho. At Jericho, we visit the tel of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus' temptation. Ascending the Roman road along the deep and picturesque gorge of Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at St. George's Monastery continuing on to Jerusalem.
DAY 8 Thu . Jun . 01
JERUSALEM – THE OLD CITY
This morning we walk on the Ramparts from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate. Just inside the Gate, we take the time to examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, which includes steps where we may be certain that Jesus taught, and He and his disciples walked. We also can be certain these are the steps where Paul would have done his Torah studies at the feet of his teacher Gamaliel. We then walk up to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site and ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Deep in the heart of Jerusalem we tour the Western Wall Tunnel (also known as “the rabbis’ tunnel”). Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus said to the man “Take up thy bed and walk.” and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics, and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Continue walking along the path to the City of David. The tour starts with a 10 minute 3-D movie. It gives a visual timeline of the geography of the City of David from the original settlement to present day. Then descend into the ground to Hezekiah’s tunnel built somewhere near 700 B.C. and was needed to bring fresh water from outside the fortified City of David (from the Gihon Spring) to the inside (deposited into the Pool of Siloam) so that the city would have drinking water during any siege (the tunnel’s construction is referred to in Isaiah 22:9). As part of the tour you can do the 40-minute walk in knee-high water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher. From there we walk through the Arab Souks, past the Armenian Quarter and exit the Old City through the Mt Zion Gate to visit the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion.
DAY 9 Fri . Jun . 02
NEW CITY OF JERUSALEM / TEL AVIV AIRPORT
Our final day in Jerusalem we have a leisurely morning before checking out of our hotel. We drive to West Jerusalem driving by the Knesset on our way to the Israel Museum. Here we view the Shrine of the Book and we get to see the model of the 2nd Temple Jerusalem. This 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, before we drive to the airport for our late evening check in for our flight home.
DAY 10 Sat . Jun . 03
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.
DAY 11 Fri . Jun . 03
ARRIVE BACK IN THE USA
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv and continue with our connections back to Little Rock.