DAY 3 – TUESDAY, JUNE 18: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full day here in Israel. We saw a total of five sites, making connections with the Bible all day long. The weather was sunny, with highs around 90. A nice breeze kept it comfortable.
Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after a full breakfast, we drove north to Caesarea. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, the city was built by Herod the Great beginning in 22 BC. Among the ruins we saw the palace, fresh-water swimming pool, the hippodrome (for horse / chariot races), mosaics, the harbor area, statues, and part of the Crusader city. In the theater we read from Acts 8 (Philip), Acts 9, 21, and 26 (Paul), Acts 10 (Peter and Cornelius), and Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa). Before leaving the site we saw the aqueduct that was used to bring fresh water to the city from the Carmel Range.
Driving from the Sharon Plain, we ascended to the heights of the Carmel Range. At a place called Muraka, we enjoyed our first view of the Jezreel Valley. We read from 1 Kings 18 (Elijah) and other passages (Amos 1, Isaiah 35, Song of Songs 7, 2 K kings 4) We also sang a few songs in the chapel before viewing the valley from the rooftop. Nearby we ate lunch at a Druze restaurant.
“It was a great first day here. It was incredible to see the cities and areas where Bible stories actually took place. The Bible is already coming alive for me and it’s only got through the first full day.” -Tour Member-
Following lunch, we descended down the edge of the Jezreel Valley to one of the many impressive archaeological sites in Israel, Megiddo. This ancient site has about 25 levels/layers of occupation spanning about 2,500 years. Among the ruins we saw three city stone gates, fortification walls, a palace, a Canaanite sacrificial altar, and an Israelite grain bin. We also could clearly see Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), and the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Sam. 31). We read from Revelation 16 that mentions Armageddon. We rejoice that God will have the final word when Jesus returns!
Driving along the Jezreel Valley, Sepporis was our next site. This was the largest Jewish city in the days of Jesus in the region of the Lower Galilee. Located only about 4 -5 miles from Nazareth, Jesus would have been very familiar with this city. Among the ruins we saw massive stone pavements, the theater, and many mosaics. The two most famous mosaics are the Nilometer and the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.
Precipice of Nazareth
Our final stop of the day was to the Precipice of Nazareth. Walking to the edge of the rocky quarry, the view of the Jezreel Valley was stunning from here. We enjoyed a closeup view of Mt. Tabor and the Hill of Moreh especially. Enjoying a time of reflection together, we read from Luke 4 and John 1 about the ministry of Jesus. Heeding Philip’s three words, we were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew. It was a great way to end our first day here.
We drove through Cana (John 2) to the west side of the Sea of Galilee. We passed Mt. Arbel (the mountain we will hike tomorrow morning) towards the end of our drive to our hotel. We enjoyed dinner together and an optional gathering down by the water’s edge. What a great first day!