Day 01 Fri . Jan . 22
After connecting flights from around the U.S., our journey of a lifetime begins with an evening departure from Newark on United Airlines. After take-off, we will be served dinner and breakfast in route.
Day 02 Sat . Jan . 23
TEL AVIV / NETANYA
We arrive in the Holy Land this morning where we are met by our Wilcox Tours agent and guide. Enjoy a scenic drive through Jaffa, the oldest port in the world. From here Jonah set sail for Tarshish, but he was swallowed by a whale. Jaffa was also the home of Tabitha who was raised from the dead by Peter. And, while lodging in the home of Simon the Tanner, Peter has his vision. 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 . Jan . 24
MEGIDDO / NAZARETH / TIBERIAS
Today we proceed northward to Caesarea Maritima from where the Apostle Paul sailed to Rome. Extensive ruins of the Roman aqueduct and amphitheater built by King Herod remain, including the sunken harbor and the hippodrome. We then drive to Mt. Carmel, with a panoramic view of the Plain of Jezreel. We continue to Megiddo for the background to Armageddon; more than 5,000 years old and once used by Solomon as an important chariot city. Journey through the Jezreel Valley to Nazareth, Jesus’ boyhood home, where we see the Grotto of the Annunciation and Nazareth Baptist Church. In Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle by turning water into wine. Then we cross over to the Arbel cliff for a magnificent view over the Sea of Galilee and the sites of Jesus’ mission. We continue to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and the next three overnights.
Day 04 Mon . Jan . 25
AROUND 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 Capernaum where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter. Then drive 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 home town 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. We end our day at the newly discovered and exciting archeological site of the fishing Village of Magdala where we 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.
Day 05 Tue . Jan . 26
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 to Katsrin and visit its ancient Talmudic Village to understand aspects of daily life at the time of Jesus. Drive 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. Next, we’ll have the opportunity to see the “Jesus Boat” in the Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar, one of several communal farms in Israel. Afterwards, we end our day on the lake in a wooden boat modelled on one from Jesus’ time.
Day 06 Wed . Jan . 27
Among Israel’s most impressive ruins are those found in Beit She’an. Excavators have discovered 18 successive towns featuring black and white stones, marble columns, mosaics, and a 6,000 seat. Byzantine amphitheater. Journey further south to the oldest city in the world, Jericho, settled in 9,000 BC. It is also the lowest, at 820’ below sea level. This was the first city conquered by the Israelites in the Promised Land, under Joshua’s command. View the Mt. of Temptation where Jesus was led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil, after His baptism. Continue through the deep and picturesque gorge of Wadi Kelt to Jerusalem, the city of David. The next three nights in Jerusalem.
Day 07 Thu . Jan . 28
AROUND THE CITY OF JERUSALEM AND BETHLEHEM
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. We continue down to Gethsemane with a visit to the garden and the church where we will have some quiet time. We then drive 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. Next 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 then walk up to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. We view 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. Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Driving south to the Bethlehem region passing Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, we go to Shepherds’ Fields. We then visit Bethlehem, where we will walk through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. From there we drive back to West Jerusalem passing by the Knesset the Israeli Parliament on our way 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. Return to the hotel for dinner. After dinner we will have the opportunity to visit the Western Wall Tunnel. We then return to the hotel for the overnight.
Day 08 Fri . Jan . 29
MASADA AND QUMRAN
We drive to Bethany the home of Martha and Lazarus. From there we drive through the Judean desert to Qumran. Here we view Cave #4, which contained the greatest quantity of Dead Sea scrolls. We continue south to Masada where we take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod’s mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). After floating in the Dead Sea (at minus 1390 feet, as low as you’re ever likely to get), we enter the nature reserve of Ein Gedi, rich in flora and fauna, and walk to a lovely waterfall. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 09 Sat . Jan . 30
DAY IN AND ROUND THE OLD CITY
This morning 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. From there we take the bus to the Garden Tomb. If scheduling permits, we’ll have a private communion at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. This afternoon is at your leisure. 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 10 Sun . Jan . 31
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.