Biblical Israel Tour experiences of our 11 Day Biblical Israel Tour (with 4 Day Option to Jordan & Southern Israel)
June 21 – July 1, 2016 (with optional Jordan & southern Israel extension from July 1-4)
DAYS 1 & 2 – TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21-22
God gathered a total of 33 people for this June, 2016 Israel tour, with an option to Jordan. With excitement for traveling to the land of the Bible and seeing the Bible “come alive” in new and exciting ways, we boarded various flights to Tel Aviv. Following our night flights home (although some in the group already arrived in Israel on their own, with a few others scheduled on later flights), we landed at the Ben Gurion Airport. Meeting Shlomo (our guide) and David (our driver), we boarded the bus for an afternoon of seeing 3 biblical sites. All three sites are located in the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah.
The first site was Gezer. Located along the Ayalon Valley (Joshua 10), This Old Testament site is mentioned a few times in the Bible (Joshua 12, Judges 1, 1 Kings 9). Even the Egyptians knew of this city (Tel Amarna Letters, 14thcentury BC). We saw walls, a fortification tower, and a 6-chamber gate structure dating to the Middle Bronze or Canaanite Period. We were even shown the Canaanite Water System, an archaeological project that Dr. John participated in. From the days of Iron Age (Israelite), we also saw an impressive 6-chamber gate. Leaving the site we saw the messebot (“standing stones”) of Gezer, most likely used in cultic “high place” practices of the Canaanites. Gezer was a strongly fortified city located on a strategic route (the Via Maris).
Located along the Sorek Valley, Beth Shemesh was our second site. Samson was from nearby Zorah, Judges 13-14). We read from 1 Samuel 6 about the Ark of the Covenant being returned here by the Philistines. Some even explored a classic OT cistern chiseled from the soft limestone.
Our last site was Kh. Qeiyafa. Located in the Elah Valley we climbed this “tel” as well. The site had 2 ancient gates. Could this be the Shaaryimof the Bible? We read from 1 Samuel 17 about how David defeated Goliath and the Philistines here armed only with 5 smooth stones and confidence and trust in God. We could envision the story unfolding before our very eyes.
Returning to the airport to pick up the last 5 in the group, we then battled Tel Aviv traffic to get to Netanya. We checked into our hotel, enjoyed dinner together, a wonderful sunset on the Med Sea, and an “orientation” meeting that followed. Some walked down to the beach before retiring for the night.
DAY 3 – THURSDAY, JUNE 23
Today was our first full day here. We had full sun (typical for this time of year) with temps around 95 (a little humid along the Med Sea coast but not bad otherwise). After a great breakfast, we checked out and boarded the bus. Our first stop was Caesarea. This was a city started by King Herod the Great in 22 BC. Starting in the theater, we read from Acts 9,10, 12, and 26. We celebrated the boldness of both Peter and Paul who proclaimed their faith here. Walking from the theater, we also saw the palace, fresh-water pool, hippodrome, mosaics, the harbor area, statues, and the walls and gates of the much-later Crusader Period city. Leaving the city we made a brief stop to also see the aqueduct.
From here we depart to Mt. Carmel. We read the story of Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We also sang in the Carmelite chapel. It is called Muhraqa(burnt offering). Although it was hazy, the rooftop view of the Jezreel Valley below allowed us to see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), and the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7). We enjoyed lunch nearby at a place owned by a Druze family.
We proceeded down from Mt. Carmel and into the Jezreel Valleyto Megiddo. This is an archaeological site with over to dozen levels of ruins (dating back as early as the Early Bronze Age). The city in biblical days was a strategically located site. It was located on the main route into the Jezreel Valley. On the tel of Megiddo we saw 3 gate systems, a horse stable, a Canaanite altar, and a silo. We left the site by walking down through the city’s water system.
Across the Jezreel Valley was our next site, Sepporis. Located only 4 miles from Nazareth, this was the main city in the Lower Galilee area at the time of Jesus. As we walked the Roman streets of this city, we saw many mosaics, including the famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.”
Our last stop was to the precipice of Nazareth. Although only a traditional location for the “cliff” mentioned in Luke 4, the view of the Jezreel Valley was awesome. From here we once again saw Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Carmel. We read from Luke 4 and John 1. We were invited to “come and see”Jesus (Philip’s words from John 1). It was a great place to end the day!
Driving through Cana (John 2) and the hills of the Lower Galilee, we arrived at our hotel for the next three nights, Nof Ginnosar. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a free evening.
DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JUNE 24
Today was another sun and warm day, with temps in the high 90s (although cooler on Mt. Hermon). Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after breakfast, we drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee, climbing the Golan Heights. Here we read from Mark 9 (blind man from Bethsaidahealed) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000). Although it was hazy this morning, we could see the area where these stories took place. The Healing of the Demoniacstory took place on the eastern side as well, but further south.
Further east is Gamla. This was an important Jewish city that revolted against the Romans in 66 AD. Josephus describes the battle that took place, with 1,000s of Jews losing their lives. Here we saw from a vantage point the city walls, the round tower, and the 1stCentury synagogue. Although not specifically mentioned in the Gospels, Jesus no doubt taught here. He only indirect reference to Gamla in the Bible is through the name “Judas the Galilean” who was from here. He is mentioned in Acts 5 and he was a part of an earlier revolt (in 6 AD) here.
Continuing north in the Golan Heights we stopped at Katzrin, a Talmudic Village (3rd-7thCentury AD). Here we saw one house that was partially reconstructed as well as another house fully restored. Crowded together in this house, we read from Mark 2 (the lame man who was lowered down through the roof to be healed by Jesus). We celebrated God’s grace to us and the gift of His forgiveness.
Driving now north and east, our next stop was along the Syrian border. Shlomo shared some more modern history about the 1967 and 1973 wars that took place on this front. We prayed for Syrian refugees misplaced as well as Christians killed by ISIS in this country.
After grabbing a quick fruit lunch, we drove to the Israel’s ski resort where we took the chairlift to the top of Mt. Hermon. It is a 7,200 foot mountain (with the Syrians controlling the highest peak at over 9,000 feet). Who would have thought that Israel not only has a snow-capped mountain 6 months/year, but also a ski resort? The wild mountain flowers on top were beautiful! Because of time, we all took the chair lift down as well (some hoped to hike down).
Descending the slopes of the Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi was our next stop. Matthew 16 was shared. It includes the key question Jesus asked His disciples – “Who do you say I am?” Here we saw the grotto area of this pagan city. This included seeing the area where the temple of Augustus once stood, various niches for Pan(the shepherding god), as well as other evidences of pagan worship here.
The nature preserve and archaeological site of Tel Danwas next. After walking along the Dan tributary of the Jordan River (the largest one of three), we enjoyed Shlomo’s song he played on his recorder. We also read from Psalm 42 and sang “As the Deer.” Walking from here into the archaeological part, we read from Judges 18 and I Kings 12 about the patterns of disobedience that took place here. Here we saw the high place and the altar area. Leaving the site we saw a mud-brick gate dating to the time of the Middle Bronze Period. Perhaps Abraham saw or even walked through this gate (Gen. 14:14)?
On the way back to the hotel, we ascended 1,800 feet (to 2,500) to the top of the hills of Naphtali.Here the looked across the Lebanon border. We read from 2 Samuel 20 (about Abel Beit Maacah). Shlomo followed by sharing about the situation both past and present with Lebanon.
We drove back to the hotel for dinner and a nice gathering down on the shoreline of the lake to end the day.
DAY 5 – SATURDAY, JUNE 25
Today was another warm day, with the usual sun and temps in the high 90s. The breezes made it OK though. After breakfast, we started off towards Mt. Arbel. After opening the day with one of the kingdom parables (Matthew 13), 17 in the group choose to hike the trail to the top (800 foot ascent that took 70 minutes), while the bus took the rest of the group to the top from the western approach. Although the view from on top was hazy, we could see almost the entire Sea of Galilee from here.
Driving back through Tiberias, we arrived at Magdala. Mary Magdalene was from here. One of only seven 1stCentury AD synagogues was uncovered here. Even though not mentioned in the Bible specifically, we could see Jesus teach from this simple structure.
The site of Chorazimwas next. This was one of three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11). Here we read from Matthew 23 as we stood inside the 3rdCentury AD synagogue. The whole city was made with basaltic stone from the area.
Just down the hill on the shoreline of the lake is Capernaum. This was the home center of ministry for Jesus here in Galilee. We read from Luke 7 and John 6, to of several stories that took place here. We visited the 4-5thCentury AD synagogue and the octagonal 5thCentury AD church built around what some believe to be Peter’s house (Mark 1). It was here Jesus display his s’mekah (authority) in both his healing (Mark 2) and teaching ministry (Mark 9).
Following a great fish lunch, we returned to Nof Ginnosar and saw the 1stCentury AD wooden “Jesus boat” found here in 1986. We even got to meet Yuval, one of the two brothers who discovered it when the level of the lake was low. From here we also enjoyed our own boat ride on the lake. It was a time of worship and reflection as we read from Mark 4 and then from Matthew 14.
Driving to the southern end of the lake to Yardenit, 12 in the group were baptized in the Jordan River. It was a special time for all. The water level was low, but it was warm.
We ended the day be driving to the Mount of Beatitudes. We heard Mathew 5 read in both Hebrew (as Jesus would have shared it), and in English. Hearing again these “kingdom principles” at a possible location where Jesus shared them was special. We then walked down the pathway in solitude, recollecting the transforming words of Jesus shared in this place. We return to our hotel for dinner and an optional gathering once again by the water.
We returned to the hotel (our third and final night) for dinner and a free evening. What a great day it was seeing the ministry of Jesus “come alive” before us!
DAY 6 – SUNDAY, JUNE 26
Today we left the area of the Galilee and headed south to Jerusalem. It was another warm day, with temps around 105 in the afternoon. After packing up the bus, we drove to the southern end of the lake and visited the Kinneret Cemetery. Here, Shlomo shared with us about life in the kibbutz as well as about the life of a certain Rachel.She was an early pioneer to the land of Israel. We visited her grave and read a few of her poems.
Driving south through the Jordan River Valley, Beth Sheanwas our next stop. Located about 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, this was both an impressive OT and quite massive NT site. In the Roman city (actually the only city of the Decapolison the western side of the Jordan River) we saw ancient bathhouses, mosaics, the Cardo (“main street”), many pillars, a public latrine, and a large theater. Some climbed to the top of the OT tel. This is where Saul’s body was hung after his death on Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). The view from the top is spectacular!
Leaving Beth Shean, we drove westward through the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria. This is a unique road through the heart of the country. We passed by places like Shechem/Sychar (Genesis 28, John 4) en route to Shiloh. Along the way we saw many gazelles. Shiloh was where the Ark of the Covenant was for 369 (according to the Talmud). Climbing the tel, we saw ancient walls and an impressive olive press. The high-tech presentation on top reviewed some of the stories that took place here at Shiloh. We read about the life of Eli, Hannah, Samuel, and the capturing of the Ark by the Philistines (1 Sam. 2-4). We even walked down to the place where it is believed the Tabernacle once stood.
Leaving Shiloh, we continued south past places such as Bethel (Genesis 12, 28) and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14). Driving through the amazing Judean Desert and the Desert of Parath (Jeremiah 13), we descended to Jericho for a late lunch.
Following lunch, we climbed the tel of Jericho. We remembered the many stories that took place in this area (Elijah/Elisha, John the Baptist/Jesus’ baptism, Zacheaus & Bartimaeus, Herod the Great, etc…). Seeing the actual retaining walls of Jericho during the days of Joshua, we also remembered the conquest story of Joshua 6. We celebrated the historicity and truth of the Bible.
On our ascent to Jerusalem, we briefly stopped overlooking the Wadi Qelt & the Judean Desert. We heard the powerful words of Isaiah 40 predicting the coming of the Messiah as well as Psalm 23.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, we checked in to our hotel, enjoyed dinner, and an optional walk to the Western Wall. We’re looking forward to spending the next few days in this amazing city, Israel’s ancient and modern capital!
DAY 7 – MONDAY, JUNE 27
Today was a cooler day here in Jerusalem. With sun and temps in the high 80s, it as very pleasant. Our day began with driving to the Mt. of Olives. The view of the Old City and the Temple Mount is spectacular! We walked down the path that leads to the Garden of Gethsemane. On the way, we stopped at the Dominus Flavetchapel to read passages such as Luke 19, Acts 1, and Zechariah 14. Christ rode into Jerusalem proclaimed as “king” and He will once again return recognized by the world as “King!” In the quiet Garden of Gethsemane, we read from Matthew 14 and Luke 22. We enjoyed a few moments of quiet reflection.
Walking into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called Lion’s and Jericho Gate), the Church of St. Anne’s was our next stop. It actually dates back to the Crusader Period. The acoustics are wonderful, providing an 8 second echo. Next to the church is the Pool of Bethesda(“house of mercy”). We read from John 5 about the healing of the lame man here.
Walking through the Old City we followed the traditional Via Dolorosa (“way of the cross”). We ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the most likely area where Jesus was buried. Lunch followed here in the Christian Quarter.
Following lunch, we walked out of the Jaffa Gate and boarded the bus. Our next stop was Herodium, a “palace-fortress” of Herod the Great. It was here that he was buried following his death in Jericho. We hiked up the site, we gained a good view of the surrounding area (Jerusalem to the north, Bethlehem to the west, Tekoa to the south, and the Judean Desert to the east). After seeing the Herodian royal archway and frescos, we descended down in and through the cistern system.
The Shepherds’ Fieldsoutside of Bethlehem were our next stop. We enjoyed the breeze as we read from Luke 2 about Christ’s birth. “Just at the right time God sent His Son (Gal. 4:4).” We enjoyed singing Christmas carols in the Shepherds’ Chapel too.
Lastly, we stopped at an olive wood factory and store. We enjoyed a time of shopping here.
On our way home we made a brief stop in Shlomo’s community. With a great view of the city of Jerusalem below, Shlomo shared a little about the current situation between Israel and the Palestinians.
Driving back to the hotel, we enjoyed dinner, followed by an optional walk to Ben Yehuda Street in western Jerusalem. We even got a quick peak of the famous “signature floor” in the King David Hotel! It was a great first full day in and around Jerusalem!
DAY 8 – TUESDAY, JUNE 28
Today was expectantly warmer than today since we spent the entire day in the Judean Desert/Dead Sea area. Leaving again shortly after 7:30, we drove east of Jerusalem, down to the Jericho area, then turned south. Driving along the Dead Sea, we arrived at our first site of the day, Masada!
Masada was another palace-fortress built by Herod the Great. Taking the cable car up to the top of this “stand-alone” mountain (about 1,000 feet up), we heard the story of Masada (the resilience of 967 Jews again the Romans who ended up taking their own lives in 73 AD) and saw a few of the ruins (cistern, palace, casemate wall, synagogue, bathhouse). We were reminded of Psalm 18:1-2 that God is our “metzada” – our fortress when we trust in him! Unfortunately because of the heat, the Snake Path was closed which prevented us from hiking down. So we all took the cable car down.
Driving back north along the shoreline of the Dead Sea, Engediwas our next stop. We read from Songs of Songs 1 (henna blossoms from Engedi), 2 Chronicles 20 (Jehosophat & Ascent of Ziz), and 1 Samuel 24 (David & Saul in a cave). We hiked back to the water falls, some going all the way to the high falls.
Continuing north to Qumran (located at the northern end of the Dead Sea and where the Dead Sea Scrolls written by the Essenes were found in 1947), we ate lunch and saw the ancient site. During lunch, a number in the group hiked up to the famous Cave 1 (where the scrolls were found initially, including the Isaiah Scroll among others). We read from “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm found here among), 2 Timothy 3, and Psalm 19.
Our last experience of the day was the Dead Sea. Here almost everyone experienced the “floating” sensation of this body of water that is 33% minerals and salt. It was an enjoyable encounter even though the temps reach in the low –mid 40s C (110 F). Many enjoyed coating themselves with mud.
From here we drove back to our hotel in Jerusalem. We enjoyed dinner and a free night.
DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29
Today was a sunny and comfortable day, with highs in the high 80s. We left the hotel around 7:25 and headed directly to the Western Wall. This wall served as the western retaining wall of the Temple that Herod the Great expanded in 20 BC. What we did is enter what is called the Western Wall Tunnel and walked parallel to this wall most of the entire distance (about 400 yards). The stones put into place were massive, with one (called the Master Course) weighing an approximate 400-500 tons. No wonder the disciples commented about the beauty of the Temple (Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5). Leaving the tunnel, we returned back to the Western Wall for an opportunity to go down to the Wall and pray.
Meeting our bus outside the Dung Gate, we drove to the Mt. of Olives for participating in Temple Sifting Project. What we did is “wet-sift” through buckets of debris that came from the Temple Mount. We found all kinds of pottery (even from the 1stTemple Period), mosaics, Roman glass, and other items from various archaeological periods. One even found a metal coin from the 2ndTemple Period! It was fun to participate.
This afternoon we drove to the Israel Museum. Following eating lunch here, we saw three things: The 1:50 model of 2ndTemple Jerusalem (seeing what Jerusalem looked like during the time of Jesus), the Shrine of the Book (some of the Dead Sea scrolls), and the archaeological wing of the museum itself (seeing things like the Dan inscription, the Moses’ Seat from Chorazim, the “to the place of trumpeting” from the SW corner of the Temple, and the Pilate Inscription from Caesarea, among many other things).
We end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We first heard Shlomo’s family story from Poland before walking through the Children’s Memorial and the museum itself. It was a moving and emotional encounter, being reminded of the level of evil in the world.
We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and am optional gathering with Gaby Barkay, one of Jerusalem’s leading archaeological scholar. Some also enjoyed a walk on the Promenade.
DAY 10 – THURSDAY, JUNE 30
Today was our last day in Jerusalem. With sunny skies and temps eventually in the high 80s again, the day started by driving to the City of David. This is a massive on-going excavation. Called the city of Jebus in the days of Joshua, David conquered the city and built a palace here. Among the excavations we saw the palace of David, house structures, even a stone toilet. We walked down through Warren’s Shaft to the Gihon Spring, the water source of the city. Some walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 foot water tunnel chiseled out of bedrock between 705-701 BC, 2 Kings 20 & 2 Chr. 32, Isaiah 36-37), while others took the “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we heard John 9 read in dramatic form.
From here, some walked up through the Herodian drainage channel up to the “Southern Wall excavations,” while others bused up to this area of the Temple. The drainage channel was built under the street, upon which Jesus, the blind man, and everyone living in the days of the NT walked. Above this street level was “Robinson’s Arch,” remnants of a bridge used by priests that would have led into the Temple. Walking past the SW corner of the Temple (the “pinnacle,” Mt. 4), we walked up the southern steps of the Temple. These steps would have been used by Jesus, His disciples, Peter (Acts 2), and even Paul (Acts 21) as well. We remembered the stories of others who used these steps (Simeon, Luke 2; Pharisee & tax collector, Luke 18; the disciples, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5), etc…
For the next three hours we enjoyed some free time for lunch and shopping. Some went into the Shorashim store owned by Moshe and Dov, two Orthodox Jews. Moshe shared about His Jewish faith. It was quite interesting. Others went to Oscar Schindler’s grave, the Upper Room, and the traditional House of Caiaphas.
Leaving the Old City at 3 p.m., we met our bus and drove to the Garden Tomb. This place is an alternative site for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. Here we enjoyed a time of worship and Communion.
After driving back to the hotel to freshen up, we drove to our Farewell Dinner at the Olives & Fish restaurant. We enjoyed our “last supper” together before saying goodbye to one another. Some are flying home tonight, while others leave tomorrow. Eight in the group travel to Jordan tomorrow.
It was a great life-changing trip of a lifetime! Praise God!
DAY 11 – FRIDAY, JULY 1
This morning, some in the group arrived back in the U.S. after a safe night-flight home. Still others in the group checked out of the hotel following breakfast and drove to the airport for their flight home today. Eight of us, however, drove to the southern Jordanian Border crossing called the Rabin Crossing. It is located at the Red Sea. In order to get there, we first of all drove east from Jerusalem (not before getting our last glimpse of the city) to the Jericho area, and then south along the Dead Sea, past Qumran, Ein Gedi, and Masada, and then on through the Aravah.We stopped in Ein Bokek for a rest stop, at Mt. Sodom (a mountain of salt), as well as at Yotvata (a dairy kibbutz) for an ice cream stop.
Arriving at the Rabin Border crossing (near Elat and the Red Sea), David dropped us off and we proceeded through the passport booth. Walking our luggage across the border, we were greeted by our guide and agent on the Jordanian side. Once again after taking care of our passport and visa, we boarded our van and drove on the Desert Highway about an hour to Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum is a spectacular place. In two jeeps (pick-up trucks with seats in the bed), we explored the mountains and sand dunes for the next two hours. We stopped at a Bedouin tent and enjoyed tea. The unique beauty of God’s creation here was amazing!
Getting back in the van, we drove north and eventually turned on the King’s Highway(Numbers 20-21) towards Petra. Approaching the Seir mountains (Petra), we made two brief stops before arriving at our hotel in Wadi Musa (located just a block from the entrance to Petra). We enjoyed dinner together before retiring.
We are looking forward to 7 hours in Petratomorrow! It is one of the seven wonders of the world!
DAY 12 – SATURDAY, JULY 2:
This morning we got an early start into Petra. Very quickly, we realized why this unbelievable site is one of the seven wonders of the world! The temps this morning were actually perfect, with full sun with afternoon temps in the 80s.
We arrived at the entrance of this red-rose city at about 6:45. Petra represents the heart of the Seir Mountains, Land of Edomites, as mentioned in the Bible. Off to the distance we could see the traditional tomb of Aaron (Numbers 20), the highest in Petra.
We first walked through the Siq (canyon), the main entrance into Petra. We were the very first people into the site too, claiming Petra “all to ourselves.” With high cliffs on both sides, the Siqwinds down to the first monument “The Treasury” or “Al-Khazneh.” This well-preserved monumental tomb appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” It served as the tomb of Aretas III, a Nabataean king (2 Cor. 11 mentions Aretas IV). We were all amazed at how well preserved it is even after more than 2,000 years.
From here the site really begins. We walked further down through the site with all of its tombs and burial chamber to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. It was a 3000-seat theater from the 1st century carved in the sandstone mountains at the bottom of the High Place. Past the theater high on the cliff was also the Urn Tomb as well as many others. There are a total of about 4,500 tombs here.
When the Romans took over this city in 106 AD, they added their own structures to the site. This included a well-preserved Roman street. We walked down this street in order to access the trail that leads to the Monastery Tomb of Petra. While the climb was uphill, the view of this famous tomb was worth it. Five in the group hiked here. For a viewpoint higher above this tomb, looking west we could look back into the Aravah and Negev of Israel.
Walking back to the Roman street, three in the group took an optional hike up to the High Place. The trails that winds around from the back side is picturesque. The view from the top is even more spectacular. Others in the group who didn’t make this climb enjoyed exploring on their own some of the other royal tombs. Some even rode camels. It was a lot of fun for everyone.
We all walked back out of the site and returned to our hotel by 2 p.m. From here we drove a little over two hours to our deluxe hotel in Aqaba. It was hot here (over 100), but we still enjoyed swimming in the Red Sea and relaxing by one of their three pools. This evening we enjoyed a fabulous buffet dinner located down by the shoreline.
What a great day here in Jordan. We cross back over to Israel tomorrow morning!
DAY 13: SUNDAY, JULY 3
Today was the last full day of our trip. After breakfast here at our wonderful hotel in Aqaba (and the beautiful Red Sea), we were transported to the Rabin Borderin order to re-cross into Israel. The crossing went as normal, with Shlomo and our van meeting us on the other side.
After loading the van, we drove only about 15 miles north to Timnah. This was an ancient city that served as an ancient copper mine for Egyptians here. We enjoyed seeing a full-sized replica of the Tabernacle. The OT dedicates about 50 chapters to the Tabernacle and all its details. We also saw a short movie about the copper mines.
After lunch at Yotvata (a dairy kibbutz with green cows HA), we drove north up the Aravah. We then turned on the Negev road that goes through the Desert of Paran. Eventually, this led us through Israel’s “grand canyon” called the Machtesh Ramon. This area is really a geological wonder in many ways.
Continuing into the northern Negev, we stopped at Sde Boker and the grave of David and Paula Ben Gurion. He was Israel’s 1stPrime Minister. As we walked on the trail to see his grave, we saw dozens of ibex (wild goats). The grave also overlooks the Desert of Zin. The 12 spies came up through this region (Numbers 13) on their way to exploring the Hill Country and beyond.
From here we past by Beersheba. This was a city mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Gen. 21, 26, 1 Kings 19). Both Abraham and Jacob made a treaty here.
Driving past Gath (where Goliath was from), we arrived at a wonderful restaurant in Jaffa for dinner. There were more than 15 different dishes served. It was an amazing food. From here we were taken to the airport for our “night-flights” home.
This optional extension to Jordan and southern Israel was both wonderful and fun!
DAY 14: MONDAY, JULY 4
We arrived back in the U.S. this morning. We proceeded through Customs before making our connecting flights home. The end of a great trip! Praise God!