Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel. After passport control and baggage claim, meet your guide for transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Coast to the Negev
Travel from the coast to the Negev. Begin the day at Joppa (Jaffa), where Jonah boarded the ship to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) and Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:40). Drive to Beth Shemesh, the area of conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines. Head south to the scene of David’s encounter with Goliath in the Valley of Elah. Continue through Philistine country to Beersheba, the city of the Patriarchs. Dinner and overnight in Beersheba.
Spend the day exploring the Negev Desert. Visit Abraham’s Well in Beersheba before driving south to the exquisite wilderness of Zin. Continue through the Negev to Timna. Proceed to Eliat for dinner and overnight.
Begin the day with a drive to the Arava Desert on the border of Israel and Jordan. Cross the border into Jordan and proceed along a possible Exodus route to Wadi Rum. Made famous by Lawrence of Arabia and the Hashemite Bedouin, Wadi Rum also has an important biblical history. In the heartland of Midian, it played a crucial part in Israel’s faith (Exodus 2:15; 3:1-14, 18). Experience the area through a jeep tour and hiking. Dinner and overnight in Petra.
Spend the day touring glorious Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world. A walk through the Siq, the main entrance of the ancient city, leads to the Treasury, the first great monument. Continue through the outer Siq, with its tombs and burial chambers, reaching a massive theater carved out of the sandstone. Proceed to the Royal Tombs, which afford a great view of the city. Next, visit the Byzantine church and view its mosaics. Enter the so-called Palace of Pharaoh’s Daughter, one of Petra’s oldest Nabataean temples. Eat lunch and then enjoy free time to wander through the Civic Center and climb to the High Place of Sacrifice or hike up to the Ad Deir. Toward day’s end, walk or buy a buggy ride back to the entrance. Dinner and overnight in Petra.
In the morning, continue driving north along the Exodus route, following the famed King’s Highway and passing the Crusader fortress of Karak. Drive through Wadi Mujib to Umm al-Rassas, whose churches offer fine examples of mosaic art. Visit Madaba with its mosaic floor from the 6th century, showcasing a map of the Holy Land as envisioned by Christian pilgrims. Travel to Mount Nebo, where God showed Moses the Land. End the day with a float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight at Dead Sea hotel.
Crossing the Jordan
Begin the morning at a recently excavated site along the Jordan River, identified by ancient pilgrims as the location of Jesus’ baptism. There are strong indications that this significant event happened near an old fording place where Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha crossed the river on dry ground. Next, drive to the Allenby Bridge for border proceedings to return to Israel. Travel to Jericho and visit the tell of the ancient city, the oldest discovered in the world. View the mountain traditionally believed to be the site of Jesus’ temptation. Proceed north through the Jordan Valley to survey the expansive ruins of Beth Shean. This city, under the Roman name of Scythopolis, served as the capital for the Roman Decapolis. The ruins include a well-preserved theatre, bathhouses with mosaic tile, ancient bathrooms, market areas, and a colonnaded street at the heart of the city. Stand on the tell above the ruins to view the setting for the last days of Saul (I Samuel 28 – II Samuel 1).
Sea of Galilee
Cruise the Sea of Galilee on a boat modeled after one from the time of Jesus. Land on the shores of Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’ public ministry. See the old synagogue and the site where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter (Mark 1 and 2). Then, ascend the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached his most famous sermon (Matthew 5-7). Visit Tabgha, memorializing Jesus’ first feeding of the multitude (Mark 6), and the nearby shores where the breakfast of John 21 took place. After lunch, drive along the north end of the Sea of Galilee heading east, stopping at one of the two possibilities for Bethsaida, the fishing village that was home to Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44). Jesus performed several miracles in Bethsaida, including the healing of a blind man and the feeding of the 5,000. This town, along with Capernaum and Chorazin, was cursed by Jesus for their failure to repent despite the many miracles he performed there. Continue driving around the eastern shore, passing Kursi, thought to be the “Gergesa” mentioned in Matthew 8 where Jesus sent demons into a herd of swine. End the day with a visit to the modern baptismal site where the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight at Sea of Galilee hotel.
Sources of the Jordan
Journey to Hazor, the largest Canaanite city. Gaze at the newly uncovered Canaanite palace and enjoy the view of Mount Hermon. Travel to Dan for a nature walk beside the Upper Jordan with views of the ancient ruins, including the Israelite high place that supported a golden calf (I Kings 12). Next, visit the spring of Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16). View the exquisite remains of a first-century palace belonging to Agrippa II. Drive around Mount Hermon for a glimpse of Damascus, 45 miles away, then head back over the Golan Heights to the Sea of Galilee hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 10: Journey to Jerusalem
Begin the day with a tour of the ancient village of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. Proceed to the mound of Megiddo (har Meggido in Hebrew), site of Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16. Next, ascend Mount Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). After descending the mountain, enjoy the beauty of Caesarea Maritima and the impressive ruins of Herod’s seaside palace. End the day atop Mount Scopus savoring the spectacular view of majestic Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Mount of Olives and Bethlehem
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. Drive to Mount Zion for a visit to 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. Next, visit Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s primary water source for almost 2000 years. Travel to Shepherds’ Fields and then on to Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened” (Luke 2:15). 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.
Temple and Holy Sepulcher
Journey to the famed Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, perched atop the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Continue to 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) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Enjoy lunch in the Old City and then spend time at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy site. Experience a poignant visit to the Garden Tomb, the second proposed site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In the evening, drive to West Jerusalem, passing the Israeli parliament (Knesset) on the way to the Israel Museum. Tour the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Survey the open-air model of Jerusalem representing the city on the eve of the first revolt against Rome around 36 years after the Passion of Jesus. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Travel to Masada, Herod’s impressive mountain fortress and site of the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). After an optional float in the Dead Sea, visit the nature reserve at En Gedi, where Saul caught up with David in pursuit of his life (I Samuel 24). Head north to Qumran, where the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Among the excavations of an ancient religious community, view Cave #4, which contained the largest quantity of scrolls. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Day 14: Departure
Depart Jerusalem, traveling to the airport in Tel Aviv for the flight home.