Welcome to the Holy Land
Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel. After passport control and baggage claim, meet your guide for transfer to your hotel.
Begin the day exploring Caesarea Maritima and Sebastos, the beautiful seaside harbor. This Roman bridgehead to the land became the Christian springboard to the West. Next, ascend Mt. Carmel, the site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). Proceed to the mound of Megiddo (har Megiddo in Hebrew), the site of Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16. After surveying the Plain of Jezreel, end the day at the Arbel cliff, which affords a stunning view over the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus’ ministry. Dinner and overnight at Sea of Galilee hotel.
Mount of Beatitudes & Capernaum
Spend the day around the Sea of Galilee. Journey to the Yarmuk River and ascend the Aphek Plateau for an unobstructed view of the Sea of Galilee from the east. Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, the site where Jesus preached his most famous sermon (Matthew 5-7). Travel to the black basalt city of Chorazin, one of three cities Jesus cursed for their failure to repent despite the many miracles he performed. Enjoy lunch with the option of choosing St. Peter’s fish. After lunch, visit the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, memorializing Jesus’ first feeding of the multitude (Mark 6). Walk to the nearby shores where the breakfast of John 21 took place. Then, head to Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry. See the old synagogue and the site where archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter (Mark 1 and 2). Marvel at the remains of a fishing boat from Jesus’ day before spending an hour cruising on the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight at Sea of Galilee hotel.
The morning begins in Sepphoris, which Josephus named “The Jewel of Galilee.” Sepphoris is a stunning example of a mixed Jewish-Gentile city and boasts some of the most magnificent mosaics in Israel. After lunch, travel four miles to nearby Nazareth where Jesus grew up. Visit Mary’s Well, the chief springs of the ancient village. Ascend the Nazareth ridge to get a view over the Jezreel Plain, recalling stories from both Testaments (Luke 4 and Judges 4). Return to the Sea of Galilee for free time in the afternoon which includes an opportunity to swim in the very lake where Jesus walked on water. Dinner and overnight at Sea of Galilee hotel.
Tel Dan & Caesarea Philippi
The first stop of the day is Hazor, the land’s biggest Canaanite city. Next, walk through the beautiful nature reserve at Tel Dan to the headwaters of the Jordan. See the ruins, including the high place where Jeroboam, son of Nebat, king of Israel, set up the golden calf (I Kings 12). Proceed to Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ at the foot of Mt. Hermon (Matthew 16). Meander through the ruins of Agrippa’s Palace. Nearby at Kibbutz HaGoshrim, enjoy a chance to experience the Jordan in another way—be carried by its current in a rubber boat. The kibbutz has a swimming pool that can be used for a fee for those who do not wish to float on the Jordan. Journey through the Golan Heights before returning to the hotel. Dinner and overnight in Sea of Galilee hotel.
Beit Shean & Jezreel Valley
Begin the day surveying the expansive ruins of Beit Shean. This city, under the Roman name of Scythopolis, served as the capital for the Roman Decapolis. Stand on the tell above the ruins to view the setting for the last days of Saul (I Samuel 28 – II Samuel 1). After lunch, drive up the Jezreel Valley to the tel of Jezreel, recalling the story of Naboth’s Vineyard and Jezebel’s fate as prophesied by Elijah. It was here that Saul surveyed the Philistine army on the Hill of Moreh. Continue to Beersheba in the Negev desert for dinner and overnight.
Beersheba & Avdat
Spend the day in the Negev desert. Begin with a visit to Abraham’s Well in Beersheba. Drive south to view the exquisite wilderness of Zin. Then, enjoy the spring of Avdat (Ein Avdat), a stunning oasis in the desert. An optional climb is available for those interested. Next, visit the well-preserved desert city of Avdat, founded by Nabatean Arabs and developed by the Byzantines. Dinner and overnight in Beersheba.
Masada & Jerusalem
The day begins at the ruins of the ancient Israelite temple at Tel Arad. Next, ascend to the top of Masada, Herod’s impressive desert fortress. This site played a crucial role in the last days of the Jewish revolt against Rome. Enjoy lunch and then a leisurely float in the Dead Sea. End the day with a drive to Mount Scopus for a view of majestic Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Mount of Olives & The Old City
The morning begins with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Follow the traditional Palm Sunday route to Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”), where it is said that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19). After viewing the Golden Gate, continue downhill to Gethsemane. Enjoy time for reflection in the peaceful gardens. After lunch, visit the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5). Revel in the remarkable acoustics of nearby St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Follow The Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
The scenic wilderness awaits. Drive to the beautiful desert oasis of Ein Gedi where Saul caught up with David in pursuit of his life (I Samuel 24). Enjoy a hike to the waterfall. Next, visit the excavations of the religious community at Qumran, where the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. View Cave #4, which contained the largest quantity of the scrolls. Travel to ancient Jericho and see the remains of the world’s oldest city. Gaze at the mountain believed to be the site of Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4). Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Day of Leisure
Take a “free day” to enjoy the Holy Land at your leisure.
Western Wall & Mt. Zion
Begin the day at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy site. Journey through an archaeological tunnel beneath the old Temple grounds, exploring the full length of the Herodian Temple wall. Next, visit the grounds of Peter in Gallicantu, a church that affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Many believe that this is the site of the house of the High Priest Caiaphas where Jesus was interrogated on the night of his arrest. Then on to Mt. Zion and the City of David. Proceed to Warren’s shaft, next to Gihon Springs, Jerusalem’s primary water source during the Bronze and Iron Age. Continue to Hezekiah’s Tunnel, carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water into the city (2 Chronicles 32).
Temple Mount & Bethlehem
Journey to the famed Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, perched atop the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Explore the Jewish Quarter excavations, including the Byzantine main street (Cardo) and the Broad Wall of King Hezekiah. Next, visit the remarkable excavations of Ophel at the foot of the Temple Mount. After lunch, travel to Bethlehem. Meander through the alleys and markets on a journey to the Church of the Nativity where the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Garden Tomb & Holocaust Museum
Experience a poignant morning at the Garden Tomb. Enjoy communion in the serene gardens of the second proposed site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Proceed to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea scrolls. Survey the open-air model of Jerusalem (scale 1:50), representing the city as it looked in 66 AD on the eve of the Jewish revolt against Rome. Next, take time to explore the Holocaust Museum, Yad Va Shem. In the evening, transfer to the airport for the flight home.