DAY 01 Mon . Jul . 26
Depart USA for Tel Aviv.
DAY 02 Tue . Jul . 27
ARRIVAL / THE NATIVITY DAY
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15).
After passport control we will meet our representative who will assist with baggage claim and introduce us to our guide at the exit gate. We board our bus and start our tour by driving up the historic Beth Horon road (Joshua 10:10) to the Benjamin Plateau, passing ancient Gibeon and continuing on to Jerusalem. Our first stop will be at Ein Karem. It is indirectly mentioned in the bible as home of St. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and the birthplace of their son John the Baptist where also Mary visited Ein Karem on the way to Bethlehem during her pregnancy. She stayed with her kinswoman Elizabeth for 3 months following the visitation by the angel Gabriel in which he announced the future birth of Jesus. We visit the church of visitation is also known as the Church of the Magnificat (Mary's song in Luke 1:46-55), and St. John's Church. We then continue south to a hilltop for a view of Bethlehem, noting its relation to the rest of the central mountain range, including Jerusalem, as well as to the desert and the area of ancient Moab. We then drive down to visit Solomon's Pools, Jerusalem's main source of water for almost 2,000 years. Passing the monastery of Hortus Conclusus ("the sealed garden") in Artas, we continue to one of the traditional sites of the "Shepherds' Fields.". Continue into Bethlehem itself, walking through the restored old town to the Church of the Nativity and visiting the manger and Jerome's Grotto where he lived and translated the vulgate Bible. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem
DAY 03 Wed . Jul . 28
BAPTISMAL AT THE JORDAN RIVER AND HIS EARLY MINISTRY
"" After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor "".( Luke 11:1 - 5).
Early this morning, we drive east through the Judean wilderness down into the Jordan Valley passing by the Good Samaritan Inn. Our first stop with be in Jericho. At Jericho, we will visit the Tel of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Also, as Jesus was leaving Jericho he healed the blind Bartimeus ( Mark 10:46-52 ). We then drive to the nearby traditional Baptismal site on the Jordan River located near Beit Abara where Joshua, Elijah and Elisha crossed the river. We then drive north through the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee passing by the strategic crossing point between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel which is located in the city of Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). We continue north to the nearby Sea of Galilee where the main sites of Jesus' ministry and most of his healing miracles occurred in that region. Drive along the western shores of the Sea of Galilee passing by the newly discovered Magdala on our way to the city of Tiberias. Continuing north we drive up to Mt. of Beatitudes considering Jesus’ teachings. We then descend to Tabgha at the northwestern shore of the lake, an area intense with Christian memories. Here we visit a church commemorating the first feeding of the multitude (loaves and fishes). We go on to Capernaum: with the help of the ruins, we remember the miracles Jesus worked there. We end the day with a Boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberias where we regain our bus and drive back through the Jordan Valley to our hotel in Bethlehem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04 Thu . Jul . 29
THE BIBLICAL HEARTLAND
" He answered, "We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants-me, the woman and the young man with us. We don't need anything." (Judges 19:18)
This day begins with travel to West Jerusalem to the tomb of the prophet Samuel and a view of his hometown Ramah, and Gibeon where the Lord appeared to King Solomon before he built the Temple. Continue past the Old Testament city of Shilo, home for the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant.. We then drive north trough the Biblical heartland to Nablus (Schechem).
" When the LORD your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses. (Deuteronomy 27:32)
We ascend the winding road to Mount Gerizim, the Hill of Blessing for the breathtaking view of Mount Ebal, the hill of curses, Shechem and all of Samaria . Visit the Passover altar, where all 600 Samaritans still gather each year for the Passover sacrifice. Descend to the standing stone of Joshua (Joshua 24:26) and to Jacob's Well at Sychar, where Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman (John 4). Continue through the rugged hill country of Samaria north to Sebastia. Sebastia, as the city is known today, means 'Augustus' in Greek. This name comes from the year 27 BC, when Augustus bestowed the city to Herod the great. In Sebaste, he celebrated one of his many marriages and saw the birth of two of his sons. After the death of Christ, Philip the Deacon was the first to preach the gospel there with such success that soon Peter and John joined him in the field. We then drive through the lovely valley of Bidan and down Wadi Fariah, the pass through which Jacob (and probably his grandfather before him) entered the promised land. At Jericho, we visit the tell of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Driving south towards the Dead Sea we pass by Qumran. Here we view Cave # 4, which contained the greatest quantity of Dead Sea scrolls. We continue south to Ein Gedi where we can have the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea before we head up to Jerusalem, Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem where we will have dinner and overnight.
DAY 05 Fri . Jul . 30
“...He saw the city and wept over it...”(Luke 19:41).
Today we will start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After an orientation, we descend the traditional Palm Sunday road to Dominus Flevit ("The Lord weeps"), remembering Jesus’ entry (Luke 19). We continue down to Gethsemane (Matthew 26) with a visit to the garden and the church where we will have some quiet time. We then drive through the Kidron called the Valley of Jehosafat, where God will judge the nations of the world (Joel 3:12). Another name for the valley is the Vale of the King; it was once intensely cultivated and the revenues went to the king. Zechariah’s Tomb, named after a First Temple priest, the Tomb of the Sons of Hezir, a Second Temple-era priestly family, and Absalom’s Tomb. The conical-roofed Absalom’s Tomb received its name because the Bible says this rebellious son of David built a monument here so he would be remembered. Absalom was eventually killed by his father’s men; Jerusalemites of old would bring their sons to pelt the tomb with stones and recall the fate of rebellious offspring. We continue past the Dung Gate and up Mt. Zion 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. Continuing on Mt. Zion we visit the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion. We return back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 06 Sat . Jul . 31
THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
"He has risen!" (Mark 16:6)
We transfer to Dung Gate where just inside, 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 view the Temple Mount Plaza with the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam,. Here also was the place where Paul was arrested before he was taken down to Caesarea (Acts 21- 24) Just to the north we find St. Stephens Gate the traditional location where Steven was martyred death and first appearance of Saul. (Acts 7:58, Acts 8:1). We enter the Old City and just inside the gate we visit the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. 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 to Damascus Gate We exit the Old City through Damascus Gate and walk to the nearby Garden Tomb for a special visit and for the possibility of having a private communion on its grounds.
DAY 07 Sun . Aug . 01
THE OLD CITY
This morning to drive to Dung Gate and start our day by walking through the underground tunnels to see the remnants of the Temple Mount of Jesus' day including hewn stones weighing over 400 tons! Continue down to the nearby City of David, site of the earliest buildings of Jerusalem. Explore Warren's Shaft and the system of water tunnels. 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). We walk down to 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.
DAY 08 Mon . Aug . 02
CITY OF DAVID AND POST RESURRECTION.
This morning we drive west towards the Mediterranean coast passing by Emmaus the site of the post-resurrection revelation of Jesus to his disciples (Luke 24). We drive to Caesarea Maritima Here we explore this Roman bridgehead to the land, which became the Christian springboard to the West. After Paul was arrested in the Temple in Jerusalem, and taken into custody and was sent to Caesarea for a two year imprisonment before he sailed to Rome on his fourth and final Journey. (Acts 21-26). We continue south driving through the Sharon Valley to the modern city of Tel Aviv. Continuing south we take a scenic route to Joppa, as it was called in the Bible; it is now known as Jaffa. Joppa was the home of Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, a Christian lady known for her goodness and generosity. It was also at Joppa, while in the home of Simon the Tanner, that Peter had the vision that showed him that the Gospel was to go out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Acts. 10: 9-16; 36-43). We will have our farewell dinner in Joppa before transferring to Ben Gurion Airport for our late flight back home.
DAY 09 Tue . Aug . 03
Today we arrive back in the USA after an overnight flight from Tel Aviv.