The Holy Land: Off the Beaten Path
DAY 01: USA / EUROPE. Tour members will gather at the ticket counter at the airport two hours prior to their departure to Europe. Dinner and breakfast will be served in-flight.
DAY 02: EUROPE / TEL AVIV. Upon our arrival at the Tel Aviv airport we will be met and transferred to our hotel. Some time at leisure before dinner is served at our hotel.
DAY 03: TEL AVIV / GALILEE. After breakfast we enjoy a city tour of Tel Aviv including Rothschild Boulevard in the center of the city and visit Independence Hall. Drive through the citrus groves and farms of the rich land of Sharon, northward along the Mediterranean Sea to Haifa and Mt. Carmel - the biblical site of Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal (IKings:18). Visit the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz (Lohamei Haghetaot) Memorial. Visit the Bahai Gardens and then Stella maris (Monastery of Our Lady). Check in at our hotel in Haifa, the major port city of Israel.
DAY 04: ACRE / MEGIDDO / TIBERIAS. This morning we drive to Acre to see the Bahai Gardens of Akko, an historic walled port-city with typical urban components such as the citadel, mosques, khans and baths. The present city is characteristic of a fortified town dating from the Ottoman 18th and 19th centuries. We drive through the Jezreel Valley to the fields of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) and visit Megiddo. Then to Sepphoris (Zippori, or "birdy"), a major Roman and Byzantine city, the capital and heart of the Galilee province. Dinner and overnight at our hotel on the shores of the beautiful Sea of Galilee.
DAY 05: TIBERIAS / KURSI / CAESAREA PHILLIPI / CAPERNAUM. This day will be an exciting day in the Galilee area after a delicious breakfast. We will depart from the Roman hot springs resort city of Tiberias and see Kursi known for a herd of demon-possessed pigs stampeding into the Sea of Galilee. We will then proceed to upper Galilee and the site of Peter's confession (Matt. 16:16) at Caesarea Phillipi and to Mt. Hermon (Psalm 89:12) the probable site of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8) and the present day Golan Heights where Israel, Lebanon and Syria come together. Continue to Mount Bental, one of two craters of an extinct volcano and stands an impressive 1,171 meters above sea level, offering some of the most spectacular views in the region. Atop the mount is a now disused Israeli army out-post, complete with old Israeli bunkers. We drive to Capernaum (John 6:24) to visit the ancient ruins of the first century synagogue where Jesus preached (Matt. 4:13-17). Then on to the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matt. 5-7) and to Tabgha - the chapel dedicated to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes - (Mark 6:34-44). Visit the Church of the Primacy (Mensa Christi). Continue to the ruins of Magdala where Mary Magdalen lived. Then a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 06: NAZARETH / SHILOH / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM. Early morning departure to Cana and then on to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, where we will visit the Church of the Annunciation (Luke 1:5-42) and Mary's Fountain (Luke 4:16‑22). Stop at Mt. Precipice. We then continue to Tel Shiloh - the excavation findings here include an archaeological park of "Ancient Shiloh". We drive south to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus, and Shepherds Fields (Luke 2:1‑20) then the Field of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 1:16 17 & 4:13). Check in at our hotel in the Holy City of Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 07: JERUSALEM / BETHANY / MASADA / QUMRAN / DEAD SEA / JERICHO. This morning we drive to Bethany and the Tomb of Lazarus. Then we drive via the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Visit Masada, a truly remarkable piece of history. Ascend by cable car to visit the magnificent ruins of the fortress where from 70 to 73 A.D. the Jewish defenders made a last stand in their revolt against Rome and where the remains of storehouses, cisterns and a 6th century Byzantine church are still on view. Stop for a visit at the Dead Sea. Continue to Qumran, where we will see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Afterwards, we travel to ancient Jericho where the walls came tumbling down and a commanding view of the Mt. of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11) and Elisha's Fountain. We continue up to Jerusalem through the Judean wilderness. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 08: JERUSALEM. This morning we drive to Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives (Matthew 24:3) with a panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem. Here, we visit the Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of Pater Noster and the Dominus Flevit. We walk along Hosanna Road to the Gethsemane to visit the Church of All Nations which stands on the Rock of Agony where Jesus was betrayed by Judas (Matthew 26:36‑57). See the Pillar of Absalom, the Eastern (Golden) Gate and the Pinnacle of the Temple. We then drive to Mt. Zion where we visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu on the site of Caiaphas' House, the Room of the Last Supper (Luke 22:14‑20) and the Tomb of King David. Visit the Garden Tomb and Golgotha - Place of the Skull - for a worship service. Then visit the Israeli Museum (Bible Lands Museum). Continue to Yad Vashem - the immensely moving memorial to the six million martyrs of the Holocaust. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 09: JERUSALEM. Today begins with a tour through the Rabbinical Tunnel (by appointment only). Then continue with the Old City of Jerusalem. Starting at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) where the faithful Jews cry their petitions to God. Continue to the Temple Area of Mt. Moriah. Visit the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock which is built on the ancient site of Solomon's Temple (Genesis 22:9-14) and over the Rock of Sacrifice where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22) and the ceremonial sacrifice of animals took place. Visit the Southern Steps. After this we walk along the Via Dolorosa to Pilate's Judgment Hall, the Chapel of the Flagellation, the Ecce Homo Arch (John 19:13) where Jesus was tried before Pilate (Mark 15:6). Time this afternoon for activities of your own in the Old City. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 10: JERUSALEM / HERODIUM / HEBRON / BEN GURION TOMB. This morning we visit Herodian. Herod the Great built this monumental fortress and palace on the highest hill in the Judean desert, south of Jerusalem. Herod was buried in the site which bore his name. The site was later a rebel stronghold and hiding place during the great revolts against the Romans. It is one of the most fascinating sites in the Holy Land. We drive to Hebron to see the Cave of the Patriarchs, also called the Cave of Machpelah. According to tradition, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot. Continue to Beersheba (Beersheva). Abraham, father of the Israelites, dug a Well as part of his covenant with King Abimelech of Gerar. The continuing excellence of the water supply in and about the town makes it an important source of irrigation for the surrounding area. Near by we will visit Ben Gurion’s Tomb. The graves of David and Paula Ben-Gurion overlook a breathtaking view of the Tsin canyon and the Avdat highlands in the heart of the Negev. It is now a national park and garden. Return to our hotel for dinner and packing our luggage. Early morning wake-up call to depart for the airport.
DAY 11: JERUSALEM - TEL AVIV - NORTH AMERICA. Early morning departure from Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv Airport for our return home - the end of a most enjoyable journey.