The Itinerary for the 14 Day Extensive Biblical Israel Study Tour
May 5-18, 2018
All Inclusive Price: $4,597 from Newark, NJ, $4,097 for “land only” travelers.
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(This link will take you directly to the web site of our Holyland travel agent, imagine Tours & Travel. This is a safe & secure way to place your $500 deposit instantly with your credit card and reserve your spot on this tour. Please enter the tour code – DeLancey518 – to register for this trip).)
Price of this Holyland Tour includes: Airfare & US & Int’l Departure taxes, hotels, 2 meals daily, all entry fees, and gratuities. $4,597 from Newark, NJ (an afternoon flight. Additional departure cites available upon request). The land only price includes all the above except the airfare. Sign-up deadline: March 5, 2018. Early bird discount of $150 by 3/1/17; $100 by 5/1/17; $90 by 6/1-17; $80 by 7/1/17; $70 by 8/1/17; $60 by 9/1/17 and $50 by 10/1/17.
This is a 14 day extensive Israel tour. We will see about 60 sites from south to north, many of which hardly any tourist groups go to. This itinerary is quite unique and complete! We head south first through the Lowlands of Judah (Shephelah) and the Negev. We see a number of sites not visited by any other group. We spend the night in Beersheba. Then we head to the Judean Desert where we stay in a Bedouin Village. The next morning we climb the Roman ramp at Masada. We then spend three nights in the Galilee before heading to Jerusalem through the Samaritan Hills. We spend the remainder of the trip in Jerusalem.
DAY 1 – SATURDAY, MAY 5: DEPART FOR TEL AVIV
We meet at the airport for our flight to Tel Aviv, Israel.
DAY 2 – SUNDAY, MAY 6: ARRIVE IN ISRAEL, PALMACH MUSEUM, INDEPENDENCE HALL, JAFFA
(Theme of the Day: Let the adventure begin!) We arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport in the mid-morning. Here we are met by our Israeli guide and driver. After a quick lunch (not included), we board our bus and head to Tel Aviv. This afternoon, we will be introduced to modern Israeli history. Celebrating Israel’s 70th year anniversary, we will visit the Palmach Museum and Independence Hall. We hear stories related to Israel’s Statehood and see the actual place where David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) signed the documents in May 1948. We also make a stop in Jaffa. This is where the Jonah story begins, as well as the story of Peter (Acts 10). Both were being asked by God to go to a people outside of Israel with the Good News of God’s grace. We spend our first night along the Mediterranean Sea. We enjoy dinner together, followed by an orientation meeting to help us prepare for the exciting days of studying God’s Word “in context.” (REGIONS to study: Coastal Plain)
DAY 3 – MONDAY, MAY 7: GEZER, BETH SHEMESH, GATH, KH. QEIYAFA & ELAH VALLEY, BEIT GUVRIN, LACHISH, BEERSHEBA
(Theme of the Day: Standing strong in God) We spend our first day in the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. We begin by driving to Gezer (in the Ajalon Valley). Here we see ruins from Solomon’s day (I Kings 9) and earlier. The famous “Gezer calendar” was found here. Then we drive to Beth Shemesh (in the Sorek Valley), where the Ark of the Covenant was returned (I Sam. 6). Next, we visit Gath (Tel es-Safi), the hometown of Goliath, the Philistine giant. Nearby, we visit Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Hiking to the top of the site, we reenact the scene in our imagination as we listen to the story and see before our very eyes how this famous battle took place! Continuing south, we visit Maresha in the Beit Guvrin Valley, where hundreds of bell-shaped caves were shaped by ancient Roman quarrying. This was the home of the prophet Micah (Micah 1). Our last site of the day is Lachish, a city that was conquered by the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 32). Here, we see where the famous “Lachish Letters” were discovered. We hike to the top of the tel to see the palace perhaps built by Rehoboam. We end the day by driving south to Beersheba for overnight. After dinner, we gather to review the day and prepare for tomorrow. (REGIONS to study: Shephelah, Negev)
DAY 4 – TUESDAY, MAY 8: BEERSHEBA, SDE BOKER, WILDERNESS OF ZIN, AVDAT, ARAD, JUDEAN DESERT
(Theme of the Day: Finding God in the Desert) Our first site of the day is the ancient site of Beersheba, the primary city in the Biblical Negev. We see the well and gate structure, the rounded streets, and a typical four room Israelite house (Genesis 21). Next, we drive south to Sde Boker, the home and tomb of Ben Gurion. We will get a great view of the Wilderness of Zin from here. Next, we enjoy hiking down in the majestic canyon of the Zin. There will be an option to hike all the way to the opposite rim of the canyon. Close by we will see the ruins of Avdat (Obada). This was a Nabataean city dating to the 2nd century BC. We ascend to the site to see a few of the ruins there. After lunch (not included), we drive north to the archaeological site of Arad, a Canaanite and later Israelite city where Josiah enacted his reforms (2 Chronicles 34). We end the day by driving into the Judean Desert. We are staying at Kfar Hanokdim, a Bedouin oasis (it is recommended to bring a towel with you). Accommodations include “Bedouin tent” dwellings (upgrades must be reserved in advance, at an additional cost). We enjoy a camel ride in the desert, sleep in tents and learn about desert life. After dinner, we enjoy devotional time out under the stars. (REGIONS to study: Negev, Wilderness of Zin, Judean Desert)
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 9: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, DEAD SEA, JERICHO, JUDEAN DESERT
(Theme of the Day: Claiming God as our fortress & thirsting for Him!) Following breakfast, we approach the famous site of Masada from the west and walk up the ramp built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. (Those who can’t climb will be driven around to the eastern side, an hour and a half ride, and ascend to the top in the cable car. While you wait for the group to finish the guided tour, you will be fascinated with the view.) We hear the story of the Jewish zealots who resisted the Romans for three years after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. Leaving the site, we have the option of walking down the Snake Path or riding the cable car down. Next, we drive north along the Dead Sea to Ein Gedi, where we relive the story of David hiding in a cave from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). We have a chance to hike into the valley, enjoying the waterfalls as well as soaking our feet in the cool waters. If there is time, we will see the ancient synagogue (3rd-6th century AD) and its beautiful mosaic. Further north is Qumran, the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. During lunchtime, those who want to have the option of hiking to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found in 1947. We celebrate both the preservation and preciousness of the Scriptures (Psalm 19). At the site, we see first century miqvaot (ritual baths), a scriptorium, and cisterns. Next, we get the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. Nearby is Jericho. Here we see the portion of the actual revetment wall dating to the time of Joshua (Joshua 6). Our last stop of the day (hopefully for a wonderful sunset) is an overview of the Judean Desert. We will make a stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt where we consider the powerful words of Isaiah 40. We stay overnight at Al Mog, a Jewish Kibbutz on the northern edge of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47). After dinner, we again meet to review the day’s encounters. (REGIONS to study: Judean Desert, Dead Sea)
DAY 6 – THURSDAY, MAY 10: QASR EL-YAHUD BAPTISM SITE, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, SEA OF GALILEE, HIPPOS-SUSSITA
(Theme of the Day: Preparing and recommitting ourselves to trust God) We first stop for the day will be the baptismal site at Qasr El-Yahud. According to John 1, Jesus was baptized in this area, called Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Those desiring to reaffirm their faith in Christ will have the opportunity to be baptized here. Then we drive north in the Jordan River Valley before turning west into the hills of Samaria and the newly-displayed site of Shiloh. Here we revisit the stories of Eli, Samuel, and the Ark (1 Samuel 2-4), and see where the Tabernacle once stood. From here we drive through the hill country of Samaria, talking about the stories that occurred here at nearby Bethel (Genesis 28), Shechem (Joshua 24), and Sychar (John 4). Our last site is Beth Shean, a massive Roman city. In the days of the Old Testament, this is where the body of Saul was hung on the city walls (1 Samuel 31). But in the days of Jesus, it was a large Roman city. Here we see the Roman street, bath houses, and theater. An option will be given to climb to the top of the Old Testament tel for a great view of the region and the Jordan River Valley. We drive north to the Sea of Galilee area to Tiberias where we will spend the next three nights. If there is time, we will visit Hippos-Sussita. This was a Hellenistic & Roman site located on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Following dinner at the hotel, we meet on the quiet shoreline to review the day. (REGIONS to study: Judean Desert, Samaritan Hill Country, Jordan River Valley, Sea of Galilee)
DAY 7 – FRIDAY, MAY 11: GAMLA, KATZRIN, SYRIAN BORDER, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN, OMRIT
(Theme of the Day: Mountain top experiences with God) We begin the day by driving into the Golan Heights. Stopping on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, our first stop overlooking the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee. Here we consider the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6). Ascending the Golan Heights we next visit Gamla, a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s AD. Here we will see a first century synagogue (one of seven that date to the first century, as well as the ruins of the city, called the “Masada of the north.” Close by is the site of Qatzrin, a partially reconstructed Talmudic village. We see what a typical village looked like during the days of Jesus. Sitting in a reconstructed stone house, we’ll read from Mark 2 about the lame man being lowered down to Jesus through the roof. Driving northeast, we look down into Syria. Here we learn about the modern wars of Israel, primarily the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. Next, we descend the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16). Nearby is the amazing nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan and one of the sources of the Jordan River. We walk through this quiet national park impressive Old Testament city and hear the stories of disobedience that took place here (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12). We end the day by driving to Omrit. An impressive Roman temple is here dating to the 1st-2nd century. We drive back through the Huleh Valley past the biblical site of Hazor to our hotel in Tiberias. After dinner, we meet to review the day. (REGION to study: Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee)
DAY 8 – SATURDAY, MAY 12: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, BETHSAIDA, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES
(Theme of the Day: Walking as “Talmidim”/disciples of Jesus) We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. An option will be given to hike to the top of this 800-foot cliff (the bus will take others to the top from the other side). This is part of the “Jesus Trail” that extends from Nazareth to Capernaum. The view from on top is the best there is of the whole Sea of Galilee! From here we drive to Magdala to see another ancient synagogue that dates to the time of Christ. Mary “Magdalene” was also from here (Luke 8). Located also on this corner of the Sea of Galilee is Chorazim, one of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11). We see the basaltic ruins and synagogue, which dates to the 2nd-3rd centuries. The “Moses seat” was found here (Matthew 23). Bethsaida is next. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from this city (John 1). We will see ruins dating from both the time of the New Testament and the Old Testament (it was probably Geshur, the home of David’s wife Maacah, the mother of Absalom). Before lunch we will also visit Capernaum, the home center of ministry for Jesus in Galilee. Here we read from the Gospels about the many things that took place here (Mark 1, Luke 7 & John 6) in the 4th-5th century synagogue. Following a late lunch (not included), we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a quiet and peaceful worship service together. We recall the storm narratives (Mark 4 & 6). Upon landing, we also see the “Jesus boat” from the first century, a vessel found nearby along the shores of Galilee in 1986. We end the day on the Mt. of Beatitudes, focusing on the words of Jesus (Matt. 5-7). (REGIONS to study: Sea of Galilee, Lower Galilee)
DAY 9 – SUNDAY, MAY 13: SEPPORIS, NAZARETH PRECIPICE & VILLAGE, MEGIDDO, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM
(Theme of the Day: Learning to trust God in our battles) This morning we visit Sepporis, a primary city in the Lower Galilee in Jesus’ day. We see amazing mosaics, even one called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Nearby is Nazareth. Our first view of the city will be from the “precipice.” Here we also enjoy our first full view of the Jezreel Valley. We talk about Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5) and the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7) among other stories. We spend some reflective time here as we consider that this was the “backyard” of Jesus. Next, we enter Nazareth to visit the Nazareth Village, which includes 1st century ruins from the time when Jesus lived here. We continue into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo (Har Megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon in Revelation 16). We see some of the many ruins here, including gate structures, storage rooms, a sacrificial altar, a grain silo, and the water system. Winding our way through the Mt. Carmel range, we remember the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Descending to the Sharon Plain, our last site is Caesarea Maritima. Here we view part of the city initially built by Herod the Great. We visit the theater, palace area, and aqueduct. From here we drive to Jerusalem. After checking in to the hotel and dinner, we enjoy an “orientation walk” to the Western Wall within the Old City. (REGIONS to study: Lower Galilee, Jezreel Valley, Sharon Plain, Hill Country of Judah)
DAY 10 –MONDAY, MAY 14: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM
(Theme of the Day: Jesus and His redemptive plan) We start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday Road to the church known as the Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”). We stop to read the passages related to this area (Luke 19, Acts 1, Zechariah 14). We continue down to Gethsemane, where we take time to meditate on the Gospel text. From here we enter the Old City where we first visit the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period with remarkable acoustics. We then walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional location for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. In the afternoon, we’ll leave the Old City and drive south to Herodium. This “palace-fortress” built by King Herod (Mt. 2) is located on the edge of the Judean Desert, where he would be eventually buried. We end the day by visiting the Shepherds’ Field and the Church of Nativity (the oldest church in Israel) in Bethlehem. We also visit an olive wood workshop and store. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner, with another walk around the city. (REGION to study: Hill Country of Judah)
DAY 11 – TUESDAY, MAY 15: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER & SHORASHIM, CHURCH OF ST. PETER GALLICANTU, YAD VASHEM
(Theme of the day: Facing the “walls” of life) We begin the day by entering the Old City through the Dung Gate. We walk 400 yards through the Western Wall Tunnel along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount itself. From here we visit the Jewish Quarter and see the Cardo. We also visit Shoreshim where we hear Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, talk about his faith. After lunch in the Jewish Quarter (not included), we walk to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu. This is the traditional location for the House of Caiaphas where Jesus was bound and where Peter denied him three times. We end the day by visiting Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Memorial. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. Another optional walk will be offered. (REGION to study: Hill Country of Judah)
DAY 12 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 16: TEMPLE MOUNT, TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT, ISRAEL MUSEUM & NEW IAA ARCHAEOLOGY CAMPUS, FREE TIME
We begin today by visiting the Temple Mount. This is where both Solomon’s and Herod’s temples once stood. Today, the Dome of the Rock stands in their place. We will also see the inside of the Eastern Gate (the Golden Gate) that has been closed since the early 800s AD. Next, we will drive to the Mt. of Olives to the Temple Mount Sifting Project (9:30 a.m.). We have the opportunity for hands-on archaeology, carefully sifting through debris from the Temple Mount. After lunch (not included), we drive out to West Jerusalem where we visit the Israel Museum and the spectacular Jerusalem Model of the Second Temple Period. Dr. DeLancey will take us around the archaeological display, seeing the highlighted artifacts from sites we’ve visited. We also hope to see the newly finished IAA Archaeological Campus located in the same area. In the mid-afternoon, there will be a few hours of free time to explore the Old City (e.g. walk the rampart wall, Tower of David/Citadel museum, etc.) (REGION to study: Hill Country of Judah)
DAY 13 – THURSDAY, MAY 17: CITY OF DAVID, SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, A FEW FREE HOURS, GARDEN TOMB
(Theme of the Day: Seeking God to restore the “ruins” of our life) This morning begins with an extensive visit to the City of David (2 Samuel 5) and the new excavations of David’s palace. Those who want to can then take an optional adventurous walk through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long, 2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 8 & 37). We then sit on the steps of the Siloam Pool and listen to the story of the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9). From here we walk to the southern Temple excavations through a 1,300 foot newly-discovered Herodian drainage tunnel. We exit at the southwest corner of the Temple and the southern steps. We see the massive stones erected by King Herod as well as sit on the very steps used by Jesus and His disciples. After lunch in the Jewish Quarter (not included) and a few free hours to shop or explore on your own, we end the day at the Garden Tomb. Following a tour of the premises and the tomb itself, we enjoy a time of worship and Communion. We drive back to our hotel for our Farewell Dinner. We then drive to the airport for our flight home this evening. (REGION to study: Hill Country of Judah)
DAY 14 – FRIDAY, MAY 18: ARRIVE BACK IN THE U.S.A.
We arrive back in the States today. Praise be to God for a life-changing experience!
*While we do our very best at making sure all items listed in your itinerary are included, there are times when conditions beyond our control affect your program/itinerary, including but not limited to air carrier changes, delays, weather, political climate, time constraints, or changes by your tour leader and tour guide.