Classic Biblical: 10 Days

Day 1:

Depart from place of destination, enjoy a wonderful meal aboard the plane.

Day 2:

Your journey begins with a drive north along the Mediterranean Coast to Caesarea, the great Roman port city, and one of the largest archeological digs in Israel. This is where the Roman centurion Cornelius was baptized by Peter and became the first gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10) and where Paul was tried by Festus (Acts 25:6-12). Visit the Roman theater, Herod’s Palace, the Amphitheater and the Crusader City and Harbor. Climb Mount Carmel and stop at Mukhraka, where Elijah fought the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18: 20-40).   Continue to Tel Megiddo (1 Kings 9:15), a fascinating excavation comprising 26 ancient civilizations superimposed on one another, overlooking the Valley of Jezreel also known as the Valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Then, time permitting, drive on to Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle, turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). Couples wanting to renew their marriage vows can do so at the chapel. Finally, drive down to the Sea of Galilee and your hotel. Overnight in Tiberias.

Day 3

This day begins by visiting the biblical sites around the Sea of Galilee: Our first stop will be Mt. Arbel,  with a magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha and more.  Next, to  Nof Ginnosar to see the 2,000-year-old “Jesus Boat” unearthed from the Sea of Galilee, there you will enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee docking at Capernaum.  Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Yeshua gave the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12); Tabgha, where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes (Luke 9:10-17); and Mensa Christi, the chapel that commemorates where Jesus instructed Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17); Capernaum, the town where Jesus lived during His Galilee ministry (Matthew 4:13; Mark 3:1); Crossing the Jordan River north of the lake, continue east to Bethsaida, where a street from the time of Jesus and a fisherman’s house are among the highlights, as well as massive walls from the biblical city of Geshur. Now that you are on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Finally, stop at Yardenit for a baptismal service in the Jordan River before returning to your hotel in Tiberias. Overnight in Tiberias.

Day 4:

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 “Massada 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 Katzrin and visit its ancient Talmudic Village to understand aspects of daily life at the time of Jesus as they are reflected in Gospel stories. Drive along Israel’s border with Syria and stop at the Kuneitra overlook. Continue to Kibbutz El-Rom to attend the audio-visual presentation that tells the story of the battle at the nearby “Vale of Tears” where a few Israeli tanks fended off waves of Syrian forces during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Following the presentation descend from the Golan to the Hula Valley via the Druze villages. 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. Overnight in the Sea of Galilee area.

Day 5:

Today you’re heading up to Jerusalem! But before you leave the Sea of Galilee area, begin the day with an inspiring visit to Yardenit, the baptismal site located at the Jordan River on the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Driving south along the Jordan Valley your next stop will be the ancient city of Beit She’an. On the walls of this once-powerful city that controlled the gateway to the land of Israel the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and his three sons, whom they had defeated in battle on nearby Mount Gilboa. You can climb to the top of the huge mound of biblical antiquities, and see many magnificent remnants of this city that was the capital of the Decapolis cities where the Gospels say the fame of Jesus spread during his public ministry. Continue down the Jordan Valley, seeing Jericho, and the Mountains of Ammon and Moab in Jordan, as you ascend through the Judean Desert to the Holy City. Before heading to your hotel in Jerusalem, stop for your first moving view of the Holy City from Mount Scopus, and open your Bibles to read “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem (Psalm 122:2) and others of the Psalms of Ascent. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 6:

Welcome the day with one of the most magnificent views in the world: ancient Jerusalem as seen from the top of the Mount of Olives. Take the “Palm Sunday Walk” down the Mount of Olives in the footsteps of Jesus. On the way, stop at Dominus Flevit Church (The Lord Wept), marking the site of Jesus’ weeping over the city (Luke 19: 37-42). At the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the mountain, you can spend time pondering and praying about the time Jesus spent here with his disciples before his arrest. Enter the Old City via Lion’s Gate, also known as St. Stephen’s Gate to the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a paralytic (John 5: 2-9). Christian groups love to raise their voices in song at the adjacent Church of St. Anne. Walking up through the Old City streets, your next stop can be the Sisters of Zion Convent, built over the Praetorium, where Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate and took up the cross, marked by the Ecce Homo (“Here is the Man” – John 19:5) Arch over the street. This site marks the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, which tradition says Jesus went with the cross to Calvary. Today, it passes through the colorful Old City markets to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the site venerated by the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox world as the place of crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The day will end with a visit to the Garden Tomb. Located 500 meters to the north of Damascus Gate, this ancient cemetery discovered approximately 130 years ago by the British General Charles Gordon has become a moving site in which to recall the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and spend time in these peaceful garden surroundings in prayer, song, fellowship and communion. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 7:

Start the day with a visit to Mt. Zion and its many sites, among them: King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. Enter the Old City via Zion Gate and stroll through the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter, overflowing with historic sites and archaeological treasures. Stop at the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Herodian Temple Mount destroyed by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. While at the Western Wall, we will arrange your schedule to join a special tour of the Western Wall Tunnels that’s part of  the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. Explore the Southern Wall Archaeological Park located around the southwestern corner of Temple Mount. Here you can stand on the very street that Jesus would have walked 2,000 years ago and view other archaeological remains that shed light on other New Testament events. You can also visit the magnificent Davidson Visitors Center in the basement of an eighth-century-CE palace. Look into the possibility of seeing its virtual-reconstruction, high-definition interactive model, and enjoy the high-definition film open to all visitors that depicts ancient pilgrimage to the Temple in a unique way. Continue to the most ancient part of Jerusalem: the City of David. This area has been excavated more than any other place in Jerusalem in the past 120 years and boasts some of the most important discoveries in biblical archaeology to date. End the day with a walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, named after the king who ordered it hewn to keep Jerusalem’s water from the Assyrians when the city was under siege. A highlight of this visit is a stop at the Pool of Siloam, where new excavations have uncovered the actual remains of the pool where Jesus healed a blind man. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 8:

Start the day with a visit to Yad Vashem the Holocaust memorial, with its astounding new historical museum, Hall of Remembrance, Children’s’ Memorial and other moving sites. Proceed to Ein Karem. This picturesque village is full of winding lanes, enchanting architectural features and lush green gardens. There are seven monasteries and convents inspired by various traditions at Ein Karem. It is said that John the Baptist was born here and that Mary drank from the Spring of the Virgin, still bubbling from a cave at an abandoned mosque near the center of the village. Continue to the Israel Museum, home to the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century – the Dead Sea Scrolls. An impressive model of Jerusalem in 69 CE sets the stage before entering the special shrine that contains the Scrolls. Stop at the square opposite the Knesset, to view Israel’s legislature and see the magnificent bronze menorah with its carvings depicting the biblical history of Israel and Zechariah’s immortal words “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit…” (Zec. 4:6). Finish the day with a visit to downtown Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda and Nahalat Shiva pedestrian malls and meet Jerusalemites over a cup of coffee or a local dish at a cafe or restaurant, or stroll the open-air fruit and vegetable market, Mahane Yehuda. (Ask at your hotel about optional evening tours). Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 9:

Head east out of Jerusalem through the Judean Desert to visit Qumran, where the famed Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Modern scholarship places a community of Essenes at this site, and it is possible that John the Baptist spent some time with the community here. Drive along the shore of the Dead Sea, to the oasis at Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul, and you can hike to a desert waterfall. In the afternoon, take the cable-car to the top of Massada, scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the great revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the visitor’s center reveals the secrets of the daily life of the rebels, the story of the excavations, and how the site became one of Israel’s most important symbols.Enjoy a healthful and relaxing dip in the Dead Sea, the lowest, saltiest body of water on earth, before returning to Jerusalem. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 10:

Drive west to the Valley of Ayalon, where Joshua called on the Lord to make the moon stand still. Stop at Emmaus on the road to which Jesus appeared to two of his disciples when they left Jerusalem after his crucifixion. Continue to the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath. Drive up Tel Azekah to enjoy the fine overview of the famous battleground. Continue to Beit Guvrin National Park and Tel Maresha, the Israelite/Idumean town of Maresha – believed to be the birthplace of King Herod. Visit the underground network of man-made caves and see the Roman amphitheater. In the afternoon, visit the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve where the flora of the Scripture comes alive, along with biblical tools and industrial implements: oil presses, wine presses, cisterns and more. A stop at the Mini Israel theme park, with over 400 precise scale models of sites and monuments throughout the country, is a fun and interesting way to end your day and your Israel experience.