DAY 01 Thu . Nov . 16
Today we depart Savannah for our flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in Newark.
DAY 02 Fri . Nov . 17
ARRIVE TEL AVIV / CAESAREA / NAZARETH / TIBERIAS
"I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1).
Upon arrival in the morning and after clearing customs, we will be met by our guide, and we will start our tour of the Holy Land by driving northwest through the Sharon Plain to Caesarea By-the-Sea. Here we begin where the baptism of Gentiles: 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). Continue passing Megiddo for the background to Ar-mageddon (Revelation 16). After surveying the Plain of Jezreel from the Mount of Precipice we proceed then to spend time getting acquainted with Nazareth, visiting its spring, where Mary would have done her family's laundry, and walking through the present-day bazaar to the site of the ancient village, where today stands the Church of the Annunciation. We then proceed to our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for dinner and the next three overnights.
DAY 03 Sat . Nov . 18
THE LOWER GALILEE
"He will be called the Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23)
This morning we drive west through Poriah. "O Land of Zebulun and Land of Naphtali, on the road to the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! The people living in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land and shadow of death, a light has risen."(Matthew 4:15-16). We arrive at the foot of Mt. Tabor where there is the little village of Naim where Jesus raised the only son of the poor widow from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). We take taxis up to the top Mt. Tabor. The elevation provides an utterly commanding view of all of lower Galilee, and the valley of the Armageddon. It was here that Jesus revealed the wonderful power of presence in communion with prophets of the past (Moses and Elijah). Visit the site of the Transfiguration where we also will have time for a contemplative prayer from this location. We take the taxis back down to base regain our bus and drive down into the Jezreel Valley and then up the lower Galilee heading nearby Sepphoris, a stunning example of a mixed (Jewish-Gentile) city; it was the capital of Galilee when Jesus was growing to manhood four miles away in Nazareth. It is the only city in the midst of Galilee and today a rich archaeological site. After a stop at Cana, where Jesus performed his first sign (John 2), we drive back to the Sea of Galilee where we will visit the town of Capernaum, where we visit the synagogue and the place where early Christians remembered Peter's house. We end the day heading back to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 04 Sun . Nov . 19
A DAY ON THE SEA OF GALILEE AND UPPER 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).
We drive along the Sea of Galilee to 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 will have a special baptismal service at the Jordan River. If you wish to be baptized or reaffirm your faith again by baptism, plan to join this ceremony. We end the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 05 Mon . Nov . 20
THE BIBLICAL HEARTLAND / HERODS SPRING/JERICHO & WADI QELT
This morning we drive along the western shores of the Sea of Galilee heading south into the Jordan Valley. We drive through the Jezreel Valley west visit Ein Harod. Judges 7 describes Gideon's actions in thinning his army out. He brought the men to the spring and sorted them on the basis of how they drank from the water. We then drive back and connect with the Jericho/Jerusalem highway and cross the Judean Desert to ascend towards Jerusalem. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at the picturesque St. George’s Monastery built deep in Wadi Kelt. We continue on the main road to Jerusalem passing by the Good Samaritan Inn. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem! Drive down into the city and check in our hotel for dinner and overnight for the next five nights.
DAY 06 Tue . Nov . 21
MASADA / JERUSALEM
We begin this morning at the impressive desert fortress of Masada. We ascend by cable car to view the palaces of Herod and the site of the Zealots' last stand against the Romans. After the Masada visit, we will head to the beach on the Dead Sea, lowest point on the face of the earth. Enjoy a float (even if you can't swim!) you can still enjoy a mud bath! After this we will head back to our hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 07 Wed . Nov . 22
ST. PETER IN GALLICANTU / MOUNT SCOPUS/ SHEPHERD’S FIELDS / BETHLEHEM
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15).
After breakfast, 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, the traditional site of the Last Supper and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion. We’ll end the day at Mount Scopus for a private communion service sitting on the wall overlooking Jerusalem. We drive south to 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 and the “Shepherds’ Fields. Here we rejoice over the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus. Next, we 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. We’ll have time for shopping in Bethlehem before returning to our hotel in Jerusalem.
DAY 8 Thu . Nov . 23
MOUNT OF OLIVES / GETHSEMANE / JACOB’S WELL AND SEBASTIA
This day we will start the tour with an orientation to the beautiful city of Jerusalem, the hub of the three monotheistic religions. Our tour starts with an ascent up the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the Old City and then progresses to the Old City of Jerusalem. We walk down the Palm Sunday Road to the Church of Dominus Flevit and reflect on Jesus' weeping over the city that has yet to know peace. We next stop at the beautiful Russian Church of Maria Magdelena before we get to the Church of Gethsemane, meditating on the sorrow of Jesus the night preceding his judgment – 'father let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but your will be done' (Luke 21). We will marvel at the gnarled ancient olive trees and gather for prayer in the garden. We then drive through the Kidron called the Valley of Jehosafat, where God will judge the nations of the world. Another name for the valley is the Vale of the King; it was once intensely cultivated, and the revenues went to the king. Continuing north we go through to visit Nablus and 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. The Biblical heartland, Nablus (Schechem), is the standing stone of Joshua where he renewed the covenant. and to Jacob's Well at Sychar, where Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman.
DAY 9 Fri . Nov . 24
OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
First thing this morning, we can opt to take the ramparts walk on the Old City Walls from Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall. Descend from the Old City Wall and take the time to examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, which includes steps where you may be certain that Jesus taught, and He and his disciples walked. We walk up to the Western Wall Judaism holiest site and view the Dome of the Rock the masterpiece of Islamic art. Spend some time walking around the Jewish Quarter. Walk along the Cardo, the ancient Roman road; View the Broad Wall. Visit the Wohl Museum. Exit Jerusalem by Dung Gate and 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. The rest of the afternoon is left free for personal interest, or an option to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum dedicated to the six million Jews who lost their lives before and during the World War II. This evening we have a special treat, walking through underground tunnels to see the remnants of the Temple Mount of Jesus' day including hewn stones of over 400 tons!
DAY 10 Sat . Nov . 25
POOLS OF BETHESDA / VIA DOLOROSA / HOLY SEPULCHRE / SHOPPING
We transfer to St. Stephens Gate Dung gate and walk through the gate to the Church of St. Anne a Byzantine Basilica and possesses amazing acoustics perfect for Gregorian chant, with sounds moving across the open space and up from the grotto. This makes the church a pilgrimage site for soloists and choirs. Currently St. Anne's belongs to the French government and is administered by the White Fathers, an order of the Catholic Church. Also, in the same compound we view the two Pools of Bethesda built during the Roman period as a pagan shrine to either the Egyptian god Serapis or the Greek god Asclepius, both gods of healing and it is where Jesus healed the crippled person. Along the Via Dolorosa - “Sorrowful Road,” we see the stations connected with Jesus’ crucifixion. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre represents the final station where He was crucified. Then we walk through the Arab Souks and bazaars to Damascus Gate. This evening we will have a farewell dinner before we transfer back to Ben Gurion Airport for our flight back home.
DAY 11 Sun . Nov . 26
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.