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The day has arrived, and we depart from our local airport on an overnight trip to Israel. Round trip flights from your local airport can be arranged by Christian Expedition for an additional charge.
Today we arrive in Israel at Tel Aviv – Ben Gurion Airport. Airport to hotel transfer not included. We meet our tour director at the hotel and check-in. A welcome dinner will be held this evening with Jesse.
After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and travel to Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea Maritima was a magnificent city with Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader ruins. He we will elaborate on the story of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10), and on the travels of Paul. Caesarea Maritima became a springboard of the preaching of Christ to the West. We will travel on to Mount Carmel, or Muhraqa, where the confrontation between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal came to a head (1 Kings 18). We will have lunch together before moving on to Tel Megiddo, or “Armageddon,” reflecting on the end of days battle between good and evil mentioned in Revelation 16:16. During our visit we will see the Solomon city gate, stables and palaces from the time of Ahab, a high place, and an impressive water system dating to the 9th century BC. We will travel to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. Here we will visit the Church of the Annunciation, which was built over the house of Mary where the angel appeared to her announcing the birth of Jesus. We’ll also visit the Upper Basilica and the nearby archaeological museum where we will see the remains of Nazareth from the time of Jesus. We will pass through Cana of Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, en route to our hotel at the Sea of Galilee.
Following breakfast we enjoy a sail on the Sea of Galilee on a replica of a boat from Jesus’ time. We dock at Ginosar where we visit the ancient boat museum containing a 2,000-year-old fishing boat. We visit the Mount of Beatitudes where we enjoy its enchanting gardens and reflect upon Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Then its on to Capernaum, where we see the house of the Apostle Peter’s mother-in-law and an ancient synagogue where Jesus taught. For lunch we enjoy St. Peter’s fish from the Sea of Galilee, which would have been commonly eaten by people in Jesus’ time. In Tabgha we visit the Church of St Peter’s Primacy, where Jesus appeared to his disciples for the third time after his Resurrection. We move on to Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, which contains the ruins of which include a 1st century synagogue. We finish our day at the Yardenit Baptismal Site, where there will be an opportunity to be baptized in the same river as was Jesus himself.
This morning we head south, following the Jordan Valley Road towards Jericho. We stop at Beit She’an, which was the capital of the Decapolis. Here we see the ruins of the Roman and Byzantine cities and discuss the demise of King Saul and his sons, whose bodies were hanged on the city’s walls. We press on to Jericho for lunch before visiting Bet Arabah (“Qasr el Yahud”), which is also known as Gilgal. This is where the Israelites cross into the promised land, where Jesus was baptized, and the place from which Elijah was taken to heaven. We return to Jericho where we see Tel Jericho, where the city stood at the time of Joshua. We enjoy a view of the Mount of Temptation and a panoramic tour of Jericho, including an ancient sycamore tree which reminds us of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus. We depart Jericho for Jerusalem, stopping to enjoy a view of St George Monastery and to reflect on the story of the Good Samaritan. Finally we arrive in Jerusalem, where we check in to our hotel.
After a buffet breakfast we visit the Mount of Olives. From there we enjoy a panoramic view of Jerusalem. We walk from there along Palm Sunday Road, stopping at Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over the city. We travel then to the Israel Museum, where we see a model of the city of Jerusalem as it looked in the 1st century and “the Shrine of the Book” which contains some of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered at Qumran. We drive to the Shepherd’s Field, where the angels appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of Jesus. These fields are also the setting of the Book of Ruth. In Bethlehem we visit Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, which was build over the Cave of Christ’s birth. We return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
In the morning we depart for Masada, the fortress built by King Herod the Great and known as the site of the famous last-stand by the Zealots in 73-74AD against the Romans. We visit the fortress and see the ruins, which are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After Masada we visit Ein Gedi, an oasis in the desert where a meeting between David and King Saul took place (1 Samuel 24) and where some of the psalms were written by David. We then stop at Qumran, seeing the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and buildings that formed the Essenes’ public center. We then visit the nearby Dead Sea where we enjoy a float in its salty waters (conditions permitting). We then drive back to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Early this morning we leave the hotel for the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple stood until its destruction in 70AD. We reflect on Jesus’ ministry at the Jerusalem Temple and see the Dome of the Rock, a possible location of the Holy of Holies. We then make our way to St Anne’s Church, a perfectly intact Crusader church. It is traditional to test this church’s magnificent acoustics by singing a song, sometimes with others from around the world. Here we also see the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man (John 5). We proceed to Mount Zion where we visit the Cenacle, which commemorates the Upper Room in which Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples. Afterwards we visit King David’s tomb. We visit the Southern Wall excavation site where we will walk on the very stones walked upon by Jesus as he made his way to the temple, and see the place where Jesus taught the Scriptures. We visit the Western, or Wailing, Wall, a section of the Western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, and Judaism’s holiest site. We enter the Western Wall Tunnels, reflecting on the massive stones which once formed the western exterior retaining wall of the temple. We reach Warren’s Gate, which is an important site for Jews as it is the closest point the Holy of Holies which they can access. We visit Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter, one of the oldest areas of the city. Here we see the Roman Cardo, King Hezekiah’s Broad Wall, Hurva Synagogue, and the Golden Menorah.
After breakfast we will begin our day with a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where amid the 2,000 year old olive trees we see the Rock of Agony on which it is believed Jesus prayed. We also see the nearby Gethsemane cave, where Jesus often spent nights and where he was arrested at the hands of the High Priest’s Guard. We then walk the Kidron Valley, following the footsteps of Jesus and seeing Absalom’s Tomb, Gihon Spring, and the Water Gate. We reach the Pool of Siloam which was only recently – and accidentally – discovered. This is the place where Jesus instructed the blind man to wash mud off his eyes. Then its on to the House of Caiaphas, the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, where we see parts of the streets that Jesus was dragged on by his captors. We visit a dungeon where he was kept overnight. In the Old City we visit Ecce Homo, a site named for Pontius Pilate’s words “Behold the man,” where Jesus was beaten, crowned with thorns, and clothed in a purple robe. We see stone pavement, lithostratos, on which Jesus walked. We walk the Via Dolorosa, following the traditional route of Christ’s Passion, making our way toward the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After lunch we visit the Garden Tomb, which is believed by many to be the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
After breakfast, our tour comes to an end. The return airport transfer is not included.