DAY 3 – TUESDAY, MARCH 13: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full day of the tour. We enjoyed the sun all day long, with highs in the mid 70s. Perfect!
Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after a great breakfast and checkout, we drove north to Caesarea. This was a city located right on the Mediterranean coastline by Herod the Great in 22 BC. We started in the Roman theater. We read about Peter (Acts 10), Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), Philip (Acts 21), and Paul (Acts 26). Walking through the rest of the site we saw the palace, the hippodrome, many mosaics, a few statutes, and the harbor area. We exited the site by walking through an impressive Crusader gate. We also saw the stone water aqueduct before leaving.
Leaving the Sharon Plain, we headed to the Mt. Carmel Range. Driving to the top (called Muhraqa), we read the story of Elijah (1 Kings 18) and celebrated God’s amazing and awesome display of power and might! We also enjoyed singing a few songs in the small chapel! The roof of the chapel provided the first of three views of the Jezreel Valley below. It was a bit hazy, limiting the view. Close by we ate lunch at the Druze restaurant. We had our first opportunity to eat a falafel sandwich! 🙂
Descending down off the Carmel Range, we drove along the edge of the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This is a large archaeological site with over two dozen levels of occupation that span about 2,500 years (from Early Bronze-Canaanite to Iron Age II-Israelite). We talked about the strategic importance of the city and saw a nice model of the tel (“ancient mound:) before climbing the site itself. On our way to the top we saw three gate structures as well other structures (e.g. Solomon’s stables). From the top we recalled the promising words of Revelation 16 (a reference to Armageddon). We celebrated that in the end, God has the final Word when Christ returns! After seeing the grain silo, we exited the site by descending down 180 steps through the ancient water system.
Leaving Megiddo, we drove across the Jezreel Valley to a Jewish-Hellenistic city called Sepporis. This city served as an administrative capital of the Lower Galilee during the days of Jesus (Josephus called it the ornament of the Galilee). Walking on the Cardo (the main stone pavement through the city, we saw amazing mosaics from the Roman and Late Roman period. The highlight was seeing the incredibly detailed mosaic called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.
Precipice of Nazareth
Our last stop of the day was to the precipice of Nazareth. This provided us yet another perspective of the valley below. We also could see Mt. Tabor (Deborah and Barak – Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Gideon -Judges 7), and Mt. Gilboa (Saul & his three sons, 1 Samuel 31). Sitting on rocks we read for Luke 4 and John 1. We were invited to heed the word shared my Philip to “come and see” Jesus anew! We enjoyed a quiet time of reflection before walking back to the bus.
Driving through the edge of Nazareth and Cana (John 2), we arrived at our “kibbutz-hotel” called Nof Ginnosar. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a free night. It was a great first day here in Israel!