Highlights: Joppa, Caesarea, Sea of Galilee, The Sources of the Jordan, Nazareth, Jacob’s Well, Dead Sea, Masada, Ein Gedi, The Western Wall, Jerusalem
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Day 01 – TUE. FEB. 18 – DEPARTURE – Today we depart Norfolk via Delta Airlines for our flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in JFK.
Day 02 – WED. FEB. 19 – TEL AVIV / NETANYA – We arrive in the Holy Land this afternoon where we are met by our Wilcox Tours agent. Enjoy a scenic drive through Jaffa, the oldest port in the world. From here Jonah set sail for Tarshish. 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 had his vision. One overnight in Netanya at our hotel on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
.Day 03 – THU. FEB. 20 – NETANYA / 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 (I Kings 18 – the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal). We continue to Megiddo for the background to Armageddon (Revelations 16); 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 (Matthew 4). We continue to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and the next two overnights.
Day 04 – FRI. FEB. 21 – UPPER GALILEE / TIBERIAS – This morning we take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, pausing en route for a special service. The ancient synagogue and St. Peter’s house still stands in Capernaum. Bethsaida Archaeological Park has been under excavation since 1987, and is now open to pilgrims around the world! This ancient fishing village was home to the Apostles Phillip, Simon and Andrew. Jesus spent much of His time here performing miracles. We’ll see authentic first century homes and streets that have not been built over in the past two thousand years, but miraculously preserved from the days of Jesus’ ministry! Marvel at the view of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount. Next we go to Tabgha, the traditional site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. After a St. Peter’s fish lunch, we continue through the Hula Valley (part of the Great Rift Valley) to Hazor. Drive to Dan and Banias Springs at the foot of Mount Hermon. Here at Banias is Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made his great confession of faith. 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.
Day 05 – SAT. FEB. 22 – TIBERIAS / JERICHO / DEAD SEA – Today we make our way to Jacob’s Well, site of Jesus conversation with a Samaritan woman. 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). 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. Our journey continues to our hotel on the Dead Sea. Enjoy a float in this unique body of water.
DAY 06 – SUN. FEB. 23 – MASADA / EIN GEDI / QUMRAN / JERUSALEM – Our day tour begins with driving to nearby Masada. We ascend by cable car to reach the mountain top site of Masada. The cliff’s remoteness and difficult approach made it a perfect fortress, and it was here that King Herod built two fortified palaces over 2,000 years ago. After exploring the archeological ruins of Masada with our guide, we will return to the base and drive to to our next stop at Ein Gedi. We enter the nature reserve of Ein Gedi, rich in flora and fauna, and walk to a lovely waterfall. Here we can also try to imagine a possible cave that brings to mind the biblical reference (1 Samuel 24:1-3), “Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of En Gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.” Retracing our way north along the shores of the Dead Sea we stop at the ancient settlement of Qumran. Here we will have the opportunity to view the many caves where approximately 900 parchment documents of religious significance were discovered – the fabled Dead Sea Scrolls. Further north, we connect with the Jerusalem/Jericho highway. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, stop for a look at picturesque desert monastery of St. George’s built deep in the gorge of Wadi Kelt. Passing the Good Samaritan Inn on the way, we finally get atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem.
DAY 07 – MON. FEB. 24 – O JERUSALEM! – 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 (Matthew26) 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. 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 Jerusalem and return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 08 – TUE. FEB. 25 – THE ARCHAEOLOGIY OF JERUSALEM AND THE NEW CITY – We begin with 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. We then examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, including steps where we may be certain that Jesus and the disciples walked. We may then descend the slope of the first Jerusalem (“City of David”) to the Gihon spring, and view the knee-high water through Hezekiah’s tunnel, which led the water to a pool at a safe remove from Assyrian arrows. We then motor to West Jerusalem passing by the Knesset to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in Qumran, and the Israel Museum, including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD. We end our day at Yad Vashem the Holocaust Memorial
DAY 09 – WED. FEB. 26 – DAY IN AND AROUND THE OLD CITY – We transfer to Dung Gate where just inside, we 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 (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, 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 where we end our tour with a special visit and the possibility of having a private communion on its grounds. We get together for our farewell dinner before we transfer down to Ben Gurion Airport for our late flight back home
DAY 10 – THU. FEB. 27 – ARRIVE USA. – Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.
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