DAY 01 Fri . Oct . 06
Today we depart Atlanta for our flight to Tel Aviv, Israel.
DAY 02 Sat . Oct . 07
TEL AVIV / NETANYA
After passport control and baggage claim you will meet your representative who will direct to your guide. Board your bus and if time permits take 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. It is also where King Solomon imported the cedars of Lebanon to build the Temple in Jerusalem. We walk through the Old City of Jaffa through the artist quarter. After the short tour you will drive through the modern city of Tel Aviv heading north to Netanya where you will check into your hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for dinner and overnight
DAY 03 Sun . Oct . 08
NETANYA / THE VIA MARIS / THE JEZREEL AND LOWER GALILEE
Today we begin where the baptism of Gentiles began at Caesarea Maritima. You will see the sunken harbor, the hippodrome, the theatre and the Roman aqueduct. Then drive to Muhraka ("burnt offering") on Mt. Carmel and have a short hike to Muhraka Church and go up to its roof to have a magnificent panorama of the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon). (Focus on I Kings 18, the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.) After surveying the Plain of Jezreel we drive inland heading northeast to the Jezreel Valley (Esdraelon). Stop at Megiddo - har megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon. It is King Solomon’s regional capital, Megiddo’s fortifications, water system, palaces, stables, and dwellings spanning thousands of years and its great biblical significance have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The excavations that inspired James Michener's book "The Source" you will drive down to Nazareth and your first stop will be at Nazareth Village, a first-century farm and village presenting the life, times, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth for all the world. You will then spend some time getting acquainted with Jesus’ hometown, visiting its spring, where Mary would have done her family’s laundry, in the ancient village, to the Church of the Annunciation. Ascend Mount of the Precipice at the brow to an overlook surveying the Valley of Jezreel with a view of Mt. Tabor, the connection to the Carmel range and the relation to the town of Nazareth down the hill. Continue to Cana, commemorating Jesus' transformation of water into wine. Drive down to Tiberias and check into your hotel for dinner and the next three overnights overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 04 Mon . Oct . 09
AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE
" They got into a boat and started across the sea to Capernaum…” (John 6). After landing, “When he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside, and sat down” (Matt. 5:1).
First thing in the morning you will take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Drive up to the Mount of Beatitudes and hike down the hill to the lake and go to Tabgha where Christians have long remembered the first feeding of the multitude and nearby, the breakfast of John 21. Continue walking to nearby Capernaum where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter. Then drive to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee heading east and stop at Beth Saida, which is the fishing village of the Gospels. This village was the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip. Here, as well as Capernaum and Chorazin, Jesus performed most of his miracles, healed a blind man, and cursed all three towns for their failure to repent. In Luke’s account, the feeding of the 5000 occurred in the area of Beth Saida. Continue driving around the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee heading south to Ein Gev where you can stop for a St. Peter's Fish lunch. After lunch drive further south to Kursi in the "Gergesa" of Matthew’s Gospel where the evangelist locates the miracle of the swine. Most likely, that is what early Christians were commemorating. Then drive full circle around the lake and stop at a location where the Jordan River exits south from the Sea of Galilee and heads down the Jordan Valley to the newly discovered and exciting archaeological site of the fishing Village of Magdala where you can see a first century synagogue typical of the various synagogues that dotted the Galilee region and where Christ would have first preached the gospel. Drive or hike up and end the day at the Mount Arbel, which affords a view over the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus' ministry.
DAY 05 Tue . Oct . 10
THE SOURCES OF THE JORDAN
Ascend the Golan Heights today, the biblical Bashan and ancestral home of the half-tribe of Manassah and in Jesus’ day, part of the territory of Herod Philip. Stop for an overview of Gamla, also known as “Masada of the north” where you’ll hear a heroic story of the few against the many, as the raptors that are protected here soar overhead in these magnificent natural surroundings. Continue along Israel’s border with Syria and stop at the Kuneitra overlook. Visit Tel Dan, one of the most important biblical mounds in the country. Here archaeologists discovered an inscription with the words “House of David,” and you can see a gateway from the time of Abraham, as well as the High Place of Jeroboam and the Israelite gate. Continue to Caesarea Philippi, now known as Banias. Open your Bible among the ruins of pagan temples to consider the words Jesus spoke here: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13). As at Dan, you’ll also enjoy the natural beauty of Banias nestled on the flourishing banks of one the Jordan’s main tributaries.
DAY 06 Wed . Oct . 11
THE RIFT VALLEY
Today you will drive down into the Jordan Valley and continue driving south to the strategic crossing point between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel which is located in the city of Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). Here, you can climb the Tel to view the setting of Saul’s death. You can then survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theater, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. Continue south to Jericho. At Jericho, we visit the Tel of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. You will then drive to the traditional Baptismal site at Qasr El Yehud where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. Here you can have the opportunity to renew your baptismal vows at the same spot. Drive further south to the Dead Sea and continue along the western shores of the Dead Sea to Ein Bokek and check into your hotel along the shores of the Dead Sea for some free time. Here we will have an opportunity to enjoy the surreal experience of floating in the salt-rich water, 400m (1,312 ft) below sea level! Don't miss the chance to have a mud bath in the world's richest source of natural salts. Dinner and one overnight at the Dead Sea.
DAY 07 Thu . Oct . 12
MASADA / THE JUDEAN WILDERNESS / JERUSALEM
"We are going up to Jerusalem." (Matthew 20:18).
This morning the first stop will be at Masada. Take the cable-car to the top of Masada, scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the great revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the visitor’s center reveals the secrets of the daily life of the rebels, the story of the excavations. Descend back to the base by cable car and drive, the Nature Reserve of Ein Gedi. Enter the nature reserve of Ein Gedi, rich in flora and fauna, and hike to a lovely waterfall. After this drive along the western shores of the Dead Sea north and stop at the ancient settlement of Qumran. Here you'll have the opportunity to view the many caves where approximately 900 parchment documents of religious significance were discovered - the fabled Dead Sea Scrolls. Connect with the Jerusalem/Jericho highway passing by the Good Samaritan Inn on the way. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, stop for a look at the picturesque desert monastery of St. George’s built deep in the gorge of Wadi Kelt. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem. Drive down to the city and check into your hotel for dinner and the next four overnights in Jerusalem.
DAY 8 Fri . Oct . 13
Today you will start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After an orientation, descend the traditional Palm Sunday Road to Dominus Flevit ("The Lord weeps"), remembering Jesus’ entry. Continue down to Gethsemane with a visit to the garden and the church where you will have some quiet time. Then drive through the Kidron called the Valley of Jehosafat, where God will judge the nations of the world. Continue driving to the church grounds called Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Here, the Assumptionist Fathers propose, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus. Driving south to the Bethlehem region passing Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, you will go to Shepherds’ Fields. You will then visit Bethlehem, where you we will walk through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity.
DAY 9 Sat . Oct . 14
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF JERUSALEM
After breakfast you will begin your day with a visit to a modern tunnel that enables us to examine the length of the outer Herodian Temple wall, mostly preserved in mint condition, including two stone blocks each weighing about 600 tons. Then you will walk to the Ophel and examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, including steps where you may be certain that Jesus and the disciples walked. You may then descend the slope of the first Jerusalem (“City of David”) to the Gihon spring and proceed through Hezekiah’s tunnel, which led the water to a pool where city dwellers of old were safe from the Assyrian arrows. At the Pool of Siloam, John 9 records the healing of the blind man by putting mud on his eyes and asking him to wash them away. You will then drive to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Israel Museum, including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD. You will end your day with a solemn visit to 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. Then it’s back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10 Sun . Oct . 15
THE MOSLEM AND THE JEWISH QUARTERS
First thing this morning, you will transfer to Jaffa Gate. Just inside the gate, you can visit the Museum at the David Citadel and the nearby newly discovered excavations at Kishle. It is thought that the remains are those of Herod's palace. You will then take the ramparts walk on the Old City Walls from Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall. Descend from the Old City Wall and walk up to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Walk up 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. Spend some time walking around the Jewish Quarter. Walk along the Cardo, the ancient Roman road; View the Broad Wall. While in the Jewish Quarter take the opportunity to visit the Temple Institute, the Herodion Mansion. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11 Mon . Oct . 16
DAY IN AND AROUND THE OLD CITY / TEL AVIV AIRPORT
"He has risen!" (Mark 16:6)
Early this morning we’ll visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, then return to the hotel for breakfast. Afterwards we transfer to St. Stephen's Gate where we first encountered Saul as a persecutor of the first believers. Just inside the gate, you will find the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics, and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa). From there you will 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. From there, take the bus to the Garden Tomb where you will end your tour with a special visit and the possibility of having a private communion on its grounds. The balance of the day is free. This evening we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner before we drive to the airport for our late evening check in for our flight home.
DAY 12 Tue . Oct . 17
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.