February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 5

DAY 5 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13: MT. OF BEATITUDES, BEIT SHEAN, JERICHO, DEAD SEA

Today we left the Sea of Galilee area and drove south. Our final destination today on a day that started with steady rain through the first part of the morning was the Dead Sea. The weather improved as by late morning, with sun and clouds and highs in the 70s.

Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. of Beatitudes

The Mt. of Beatitudes on a rainy morning

Leaving our hotel shortly after 7:30 again, we first drove to the Mt. Of Beatitudes. This was one location where Jesus delivered His sermon on the kingdom principles (this sermon would be His “go-to” message, and He shared it in other places too, see Luke 6:17-49). Overlooking a natural amphitheater and huddling together under umbrellas, we heard part of Matthew 5 in Hebrew and then in English. We enjoyed a time of reflection, song, and prayer. The words of Jesus came alive here in this place!

Kinneret Cemetery

Rachel Bluwstein

The grave of Rachel Bluwstein at the Kinneret Cemetery

Driving south to the end of the Sea of Galilee, we made a brief “extra” stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. Here Shlomo shared with us about kibbutz life in Israel. We also heard of the story of a Russian/Ukrainian Jew named Rachel Bluwstein. She was an early Jewish pioneer in the land. She is famous for her poems. She died in 1931. Her face is now on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!

Beth Shean

Beth Shean

The Roman city of Beth Shean

Continuing south through the Jordan Valley, we arrived at Beth Shean. By the time we started our tour of this site, the rain stopped and the sun came out! Beth Shean was one of Israel’s most extensive archaeological site. It was on the ancient walls of the Old Testament city where King Saul’ body was hung after his death on Mt Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). Beth Shean was also a very large Roman city as well, peaking from the 2nd-5th century AD. We walked on the colonnaded stone pavements/streets, saw Roman bathhouses and many mosaics as well as the agora (market place), public latrenes, and the massive theater. Some in the group climbed to the top of the OT tel for a great view of the Roman city below. Following seeing the site, we had lunch near by.

Jericho

Jericho walls

The Late Bronze retaining walls of Jericho

From here we drove a little over an hour south down the Jordan Valley. At the northern end of the Dead Sea is the city of Jericho. This was our last stop of the day. Jericho was the first city taken in Joshua’s Conquest (Joshua 6). We saw the retaining/revetment walls of the city on top of which was a mud-brick wall. It was the later that came tumblin’ down when the shofars (trumpets) were blown (David actually blew a small shofar when we read the story! Just a couple of miles to the south was New Testament Jericho. It served as Herod’s winter palace. It was here where Zacheaus (Luke 19) and Bartemaeus lived (Mark 10). It was also here where Herod the Great died in 4 BC.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea and Moab

The Dead Sea and mountains of Moab (in Jordan)

Driving south along the Dead Sea, we enjoyed spectacular visibility. The mountains of Moab (in Jordan) and clouds in the sky were so colorful as the sun began to set. After we arrived at our hotel in Zin Bokek, we changed into our swim suits for a unique float in the Dead Sea. Again the backdrop of the Jordanian mountains was amazing! Following a good hot shower, we enjoyed dinner together and a free evening.

DAY 6 – WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 14: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JUDEAN DESERT

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Day 6 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 19: WADI QELT, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, GALILEE

Once again, we left the hotel shortly after 7:30 following breakfast and check-out. We woke up to no power in the hotel due to the unique storm in this Jericho area last night at 4 am. Today would be a day of driving through the Judean Desert, the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria, the Jordan River Valley, and finally to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. The weather was rainy at times throughout the day, especially the further north we went, with temps very cool/cold in the 40s – 50s.

Judean Desert- Wadi Helt & Desert of Pareth

Judean Desert

Judean Desert looking west to Jerusalem

Our first stop was Wadi Qelt and the heart of the Judean Desert. The view of this “wilderness” was spectacular even though we were there with wind and rain. We heard the words of Isaiah 40. It was here where this OT prophet “prepared the way” for the coming of God’s promise and redemption! About 700 years later, John the Baptist proclaimed the same words as he prepared the way for the Lord’s coming! From here we uniquely drove through another area of the Judean Desert referred by Jeremiah as the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13). This wadi (dry river bed) was gushing with water! As we drove we stopped for very nice panaramic views of this unique region as well as for the dozen or so gazelles we saw along the way. We also drove through the area of Michmash, the location where Jonathan defeated the Philistines (1 Samuel 13).

Shiloh

Shiloh and Tabernacle

Shiloh and the location where the Tabernacle once stood for 369 years!

Driving north of Jerusalem we past by Bethel where Abraham built an altar (Genesis 12, 28). It was around here where it started sleeting! Arriving at Shiloh, we walked through the rain climbed the tel and enjoyed a vey good presentation of the stories that took place here. Samuel was called by God here (1 Samuel 3). The Tabernacle, which stood here for 369 years, was destroyed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). We saw a few of the ruins from ancient Shiloh as well as the area where the Tabernacle most likely stood! During a wonderful break of sun, we paused to pray in celebration of the holiness of this area and God’s call upon our lives!

Beth Shean

Sheep and shepherd

A shepherd and his sheep in the Samaritan Hill Country

Our last stop of the day was a massive archaeological city located on the edge of the Jordan Valley called Beth Shean. On the way, we stopped to see huge flocks of sheep and goats along the road. The rain and flooded wadis in this generally dry area of the Samaritan Desert was exciting to see. We explored much of the Roman city here. The excavation of Beth Shean is the largest in Israel.

Beth Shean

Beth Shean – Roman city

We saw the bathouse, Roman street, many stone pillars, the theater and even the public latrines. A number in the group climbed the OT tel where Saul’s body was hung (on the walls, 1 Samuel 31).

Sea of Galilee

Driving north to the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee and then around the western side of this fresh-water lake, we arrived at Nof Ginnosar, our kibbutz-hotel for the next four nights. Along the way we enjoyed a rainbow over the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. Following check-in, some relaxing time, and dinner, we enjoyed a time of gathering down on the water’s edge.

We are looking forward to spending three full days here in the north!

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 20: JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, TIBERIAS, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE

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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8:

Capernaum synagogue

Standing in the 5th century AD synagogue at Capernaum

Today we checked out of the hotel and loaded up the bus. The day would once again by sunny, with highs over 100 at Jericho and the Dead Sea.

Before leaving the Galilee area, we visited Capernaum (the “Village of Nahum”). This town served as the “ministry base” for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 4-5th century synagogue, we read many of the stories that took place here (Mark 1, 9; Luke 7; John 6). It was here where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, the tax collector). Besides seeing the 4-5th century church also built here, we enjoyed a quiet time by the shoreline.

Beth Shean

The Roman city of Beth Shean

Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, we made a brief stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. This is where some of the early pioneers of Israel are buried, including a certain Rachel. She was a Ukrainian Jew who died of TB here in 1931. She is still known for her poetry.

Traveling south in the Jordan Valley, we came to Beth Shean. This is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in all of Israel. Here we saw the Roman city, complete with a bathhouse, a theater, colonnaded streets, and even a public latrine. The tall tel (ancient mound) preserves the story of 1 Samuel 31 (Saul’s body was hung on the walls of this OT city). Some in the group climbed to the top.

Jericho walls

The Walls of Jericho

After lunch nearby, we continued driving south to Jericho. Climbing the tel, we saw the ruins dating to the time of Joshua. This included the very retaining walls on top of which was the mud brick wall that came “tumblin’ down” according to the story of Joshua 6. Also among the ruins is the oldest tower in Israel, predating even the Canaanites.

Close by is the Dead Sea. Here we enjoyed a time of floating in this unique body of water (33% salt and minerals). It was a very unique experience!

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt in the heart of the Judean Desert

From here we drove to Jerusalem, literally ascending nearly 4,000 feet. On the way, we made one last brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt (part of the Judea Desert). Here “Isaiah” showed up and shared the comforting words of Isaiah 40. Shlomo also shared the Hebrew version of the song of Psalm 23.

Arriving at our hotel in Jerusalem, we enjoyed dinner, followed by an orientation walk to the Western Wall, the most holy place for Jews today. It was amazing to walk through this ancient city.

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9: JERUSALEM, OLD CITY, GARDEN TOMB

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 9 Summary

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JUNE 20:

Beth Shean

Beth Shean’s Roman City

This morning we left the Galilee area and headed south. Leaving about 7:30 on what would be another sunny and hot day (90s), we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Kinneret Cemetery. Here a famous Jewish pioneer is buried. Her name was Rachel. She was an Ukrainian Jew who immigrated here in the early 1900s. She wrote many poems that are still read and sung today. She was born in 1890 and died in 1931.

Driving south in the Jordan Valley, our next stop was Beth Shean. While this was both an Old Testament site mentioned in 1 Samuel 31 (where Saul’s body was hung on the walls), it was a huge Roman city. Here we saw the Cards, bathhouses, many mosaics, the agora, many pillars, a public latrine, and the theater. It was perhaps a city similar to this where the prodigal son ran to (Luke 15). Some in the group climbed to the top of the OT tel for a panoramic view of the area below.

Shepherds

Shepherding in the Hill Country of Samaria

Leaving Beth Shean, our route took us through the heart of the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria. Abraham came through this region a few times. So did Jacob. Jesus even did at least once as he confronted the Samaritan woman (John 4). We saw many shepherds along the way.

We eventually arrived at Shiloh. It was here where the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant resided for 369 years. Samuel grew up here as well. It was here where Samuel heard the voice of God calling to him in the night. We read from 1 Samuel 3 as well as Jeremiah 7. Among the ruins we saw an olive press as well as the probably located for the Tabernacle.

The walls of Jericho

The Canaanite retaining walls of Jericho

Driving past Bethel (Genesis 15, 28), and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), we drove through the rugged Desert of Parath (Jeremiah 13) and the Judean Desert. Following lunch here, we climbed the tel of Jericho. We first looked east across the Jordan River (Joshua 2, 2 Kings 2, John 1). We then looked south to New Testament Jericho (Luke 10, Mark 10). Among the ruins here, in addition to seeing the oldest tower ever found, we walked to the southern end of the site to see the stone retaining walls that supported the mud-brick walls that “came tumblin’ down” according to the Joshua 6 story. We celebrated the historicity of the Bible.

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt (Judean Desert)

On our way to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt (the main part of the Judea Desert). Here we heard the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23 within the context of this unique region of the Bible.

Continuing to Jerusalem, we checked into our hotel. Following dinner we enjoyed an orientation walk to the Western Wall. We are looking forward to three full days here in Jerusalem!

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21: JERUSALEM, MT. OF OLIVES, OLD CITY, BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 5

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 27:

Beth Shean

The Roman ruins of Bethshean (from the Old Testament site of the city)

Today we left the Sea of Galilee area. On this day with a mix of sun, clouds, and rain, it was an amazing day of rainbows! We saw at least 4 or 5 different rainbows throughout the day.

Driving south down the Jordan River Valley about 20 miles from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, our first stop was the massive city of Beth Shean. We approached this OT & NT city from the north. The path took us from the farthest city gate to the top of the OT tel. The view of the Roman city below was breath-taking! Before seeing this incredible Roman city, we first read 1 Samuel 31. It was on the walls of Beth Shean that Saul’s body as hung (he died close on Mt. Gilboa). As we descended down to the Roman city, we saw may things, including Roman streets, pillars a bathhouse, a theater, and even a public latrine. It was probably a pagan Gentile city like this one where the Prodical Son went too before running back to his compassionate father.

Rainbow

A rainbow in the Samaritan Hill Country

Leaving Beth Shean, we continued south in the valley before taking a road to the west. We ascended into the Hill Country of Samaria/Ephraim. While driving we saw many shepherds on the hillsides with their goat and sheep (Mt. 25). We also recalled the stories of Abraham and Jacob at Shechem (Genesis 12, 34), Joshua at Mt. Gerazim and Mt Ebal (Josh. 8), and Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Sychar (John 4). The landscape was scenic, especially with the spectacular rainbows that appeared!

We arrived at Shiloh just before noon. We walked to the top of the tel and saw a movie presentation. It was here where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years. It was also here where Samuel heard the voice of God (1 Samuel 3). We walked down to the place where some suggest the Tabernacle once stood! We also remembered the words of warning by Jeremiah who mentions this place (Jer. 7).

jericho rainbow

Rainbow over Jericho

Driving south, we past by Bethel (Genesis 12, 28), and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) before descending down into the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13). We saw many gazelles here on the hillsides.

We finally arrived at Jericho. After lunch here, we walked to the top of the tel. Looking east, we could see Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34), and the crossing of the Jordan (Josh. 2). Jesus was also baptized in the Jordan here (John 1). We also saw where NT Jericho was located (Mk. 10, Luke 19). We also saw the double Canaanite retaining walls that Joshua saw. The mud-brick wall on top of this wall was the one that “came tumbling down!” We also experienced a very unique but brief driving rain and wind storm here as well another rainbow!

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea at sunset

We ended the day by driving down to the southern end of the Dead Sea. Remarkably, it was even raining here. Some enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea pool at the hotel prior to dinner together.

DAY 6- SATURDAY, JANUARY 28: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 7

DAY 7 – MONDAY, JANUARY 16:

Beth Shean

Beth Shean. Located along the Jordan River Valley about 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee.

Today we depart from the region of the Sea of Galilee. The weather was once wonderful, with sun and temps in the 60s and low 70s. Our first stop was the Kinneret Cemetery where a famous Ukrainian Jewish woman pioneer was buried in the early 20th century. Her name is Rachel. She was born in 1890 and was part of Israel’s first kibbutz in 1910. She died in 1931. We heard some of her poems. Her picture will be featured on the Israeli 20 shekel bill this year or next.

Driving south in the Jordan River Valley, our next stop was a huge archaeological site called Beth Shean. This was both an Old Testament city (where Saul’s body as hung after his death, 1 Samuel 31) as well as a very large Roman city. Here we saw the pillar-lined Cardo (main street), a bathhouse, mosaics, a public latrine, and the city theater (and amphitheater from a distance). Some in the group climbed up to the top of the OT tel for a wonderful view of the city below as well as the Jordan River Valley.

Shiloh

The ruins of Shiloh. It is located in the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria.

From here we headed southwest through the heart of the Samaritan Hill Country (also called Ephraim). It was a beautiful ride through very biblical-looking lands! We recalled the stories of Jacob that took place at nearby Shechem (Gen 34, Joshua 24), and Mt. Ebal & Gerazim, Deut. 11, Joshua 8).

Arriving at Shiloh we climbed the tel and watched a wonderful video of the story of this place. It was here where the Tabernacle was established (Joshua 18) and stood for 369 years. This was also where Hannah dedicated Samuel who became the prophet who anointed Saul and David. Jeremiah also references this place (Jer. 7). We read from 1 Samuel 3 and the call of Samuel upon His life. We also read from Jeremiah 7 and heard the condemning words of this Jerusalem prophet. He mentions Shiloh in his address.

The Judean Desert

The Judean Desert

Leaving Shiloh we continued south past places like Bethel (Abraham & Jacob – Gen. 15, 28, 35) and Michmash (Jonathan – 1 Samuel 13-14). Driving through the Judean Desert (specifically here called the Pareth Desert, Jeremiah 13), we turned east towards the Jordan River. This drive down into this desert canyon was also spectacular! We saw a number of gazelles along the way!

Arriving at Jericho, we had lunch. We then climbed the tel (ancient mound). We first looked east across the Jordan River towards Mt. Nebo where Moses died and where the “leadership baton” was passed to Joshua (Deut. 34, Joshua 1). We also learned about the stories connected with New Testament Jericho (located about 1.5 miles south, Mark 10, Luke 10, 19. This was also where King Herod died in 4 BC). At the southern end of the tel we saw the retaining walls dating to the time of Joshua. We could see the story of Joshua 6 come to life! We rejoiced in the historicity and accuracy of the Bible!

Jericho

The retaining walls of ancient Jericho (Joshua 6)

Just about 5 minutes south of Jericho (Al Mog) was where we spent the night. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a relaxing evening.

 

DAY 8 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 17: QUMRAN, DEAD SEA, EIN GEDI, MASADA, KFAR HANOKDIM

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June 2016 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – SUNDAY, JUNE 26

The "blue shirt" group at Beth Shean

The “blue shirt” group at Beth Shean

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 Shean was 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 Decapolis on 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!

The walls of Jericho

The walls of Jericho

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.

Western Wall at night

Western Wall at night

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: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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May 2016 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – THURSDAY, MAY 26

Beth Shean

Beth Shean, a huge Roman city (and OT city)

This morning we left the Galilee area and headed south. It was another sunny day, with warmer temps (highs in the upper 80s). Checking out of our hotel, we first stopped at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee at the Kinneret cemetery. Here Shlomo shared about the kibbutz and the life of Rachel, an early pioneer to the land in the early 1900s.

Driving south through the Jordan River Valley, we came to Beth Shean. This is a huge Roman site later known as Scythopolis. In this Roman city we saw many mosaics, a bathhouse, the Cardo (main Roman street of the city), the public latrine, and the theater. Some climbed the Old Testament tel for a great view. It was here where Saul’s body was hung after he and his three sons died on Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Sheep and goats

Sheep and goats in the Samaritan Hill Country

From here we drove through the Hill Country of Samaria. Passing nearby Shechem/Sycar (Genesis 34/John 4), we arrived at Shiloh. The Tabernacle was built here and the Ark of the Covenant resided here for 369 years. We climbed the tel and enjoyed a multi-media presentation of the story of Hannah and Samuel. We walked to the area where it is believed the Tabernacle once stood. We read from 1 Samuel 3, and Jeremiah 7.

Continuing south, we passed by Bethel (Genesis 12, 28) and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) before driving through the Desert of Perath (a part of the Judean Desert). We read from Jeremiah 13. We also saw a number of gazelles along the way!

Jericho

The walls of Jericho

Finding the main east-west road now, we drove east and descended to the Jordan River Valley and the city of Jericho. After lunch, we climbed the tel. We saw the oldest standing tower in Israel as well as portions of the double fortification wall that was destroyed by Joshua (Joshua 6). We celebrated the historicity of the Bible! We also considered what took place at NT Jericho located about 1/5 miles south (Luke 10, 19, Mark 10).

Western Wall

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Ascending about 3,500 feet, we drove to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem! Upon arriving, we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner. 10 in the group also enjoyed an optional “orientation walk” to the Western Wall. We enjoyed the special “festival of lights!” It was amazing to see the Old City all lit up with lights!

It’s wonderful to be here in Jerusalem!

DAY 7 – FRIDAY, MAY 27: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, and BETHLEHEM

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March 2016 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, MARCH 11 Today we checked out of our hotel here at Nof Ginnosar. Following a wonderful sunrise (it would be another perfect weather day, with temps around 80) and full buffet breakfast again, we drove south through Tiberias, down the Jordan River Valley to Beth Shean (also Beth Shan). This was a huge Roman city, the only Decapolis city located on the western side of the Jordan. Here we saw the massive bathhouse, Cardo (main Roman street), numerous pillars, a public latrine, and a theater. We read from 1 Samuel 31 about Saul’s death and the subsequent hanging of his body here on the walls of the Canaanite city. Some hiked to the top of the … Continue reading

January 2016 Israel Tour – Day 5

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 21

Beth Shean's Roman street

Beth Shean’s Roman street

Today was a nice bright and sunny day with temps in the 60s. We checked out of our hotel after breakfast and drove south. Before leaving the Sea of Galilee area, we made our first stop at the Kinneret Cemetery.  Here we learned about the life story of an early pioneer to the land named Rachel. We enjoyed Shlomo’s singing and playing his recorder.

Driving about 20 miles south through the Jordan Valley, Beth Shean our next stop. This is a huge, huge, archaeological site displaying both Old Testament and Roman ruins. Here was saw a Roman bathhouse, villas, mosaics, a pillared Roman street, and a beautiful theater. Some in the group climbed the steps to the OT tel to get a great view of the Roman city below. We read from 1 Samuel 31, about the bodies of Saul and his sons being hung on the walls following their death on Mt. Gilboa.

A gazelle seen in the Judean Desert

A gazelle seen in the Judean Desert

From here, we drove west through the Samaritan Hill Country (also referred to the Hill Country of Ephraim). We drove past biblical sites such as Shechem/Sychar, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim en route to Shiloh.  We saw a lot of sheep and goats grazing in the winter fields as well as a number of gazelles.  The ancient city of Shiloh was where the Tabernacle was located for 369 years. According to 1 Samuel 4, the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in battle. We saw a wonderful high-tech show of the story of Samuel and the Tabernacle. We also heard he words of Jeremiah 7 as the prophet looked back to the days of Shiloh.

Old Testament Jericho

Old Testament Jericho

Traveling now past places like Bethel (Gen. 15, 28) and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), we drove east through the Judean Desert to Jericho.  The route we took took us on a unique road that went through part of the Wadi Qelt and Pareth (mentioned in Jeremiah 13).  After lunch here in Jericho, we climbed the tel, we heard the many stories that took place here. Standing by the 2 retaining/revetment walls of the city dating to the time of Joshua, we read the conquest story from Joshua 6. Praise God for the historicity of the Bible!

We ended the day by driving to the southern end of the Dead Sea (at Ein Bokek). Here we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner and a free night. We are looking forward to “floating” in the Dead Sea tomorrow morning!

DAY 6- FRIDAY, JANUARY 22: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH

 

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