September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6:

El Araj

The recent excavation at El Araj – possible “Bethsaida” of the Bible.

We began our day with a great breakfast before leaving the hotel at 7:45. We read from Matthew 4 about Jesus calling His disciples on the shoreline as we drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee. Our first stop was to El Araj, a brand new excavation! We took a small dirt road to get there. It is very possible that this site was ancient Bethsaida, the home of Peter, Andrew, and Phillip. Although the ruins were limited, it was thrilling to be here! We read from Mark 8 (blind man) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000), with both events taking place here.

Ascending to the Golan Heights, we visited Gamla next. This was a 1st century Jewish city that revolted against the Romans. In 66 AD the city was destroyed. A 1st century synagogue is located here. Jesus perhaps taught here.

Close by was Katzrin, a Talmudic village (3rd – 7th century AD). We crowded into the reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun. Here we read from Mark 2 about Jesus physically restoring the lame man and spiritually forgiving his sins. We also walked through the synagogue here.

Katzrin Rabbi Abun

Reconstructed Talmudic stone house of Rabbi Abun at Katzrin

With David providing bananas, apples, and snacks for us for lunch, we continued our way to the Syrian border. Here, Shlomo shared some “modern history” about the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. It was remarkable to learn that Israel continues of provide health services to 1000s of displaced Syrians from the war.

Traveling through a few Druze villages, we arrived at the base of Israel’s ski resort at Mt. Hermon. We took the chair lift to the top of this mountain (the mountain is shared by three country: Syria – peak of 9,200 feet, Israel – peak of 7,300, and Lebanon – peak of less then 7,000 feet). The view on top was excellent. We read from Psalm 133 about the “dew from Mt Hermon…”. Seven in the group took the very difficult hiking trail down, while the rest descended by the chair lift.

Mt. Hermon

View from the top of Mt. Hermon

Driving off the Golan Heights, our next stop was Caesarea Philippi. We read from Matthew 16 and heard the question Jesus asked His disciples – “Who do you say I am?” Here in the region of this pagan city, Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” We saw the grotto (cultic) area of the city, where the Temple of Augustus was as well as other pagan shrines.

Our last stop of the day was at the nature preserve and archaeological site of Tel Dan. We walked along the Dan spring under the shade of the Eucalyptus and fig trees. We stopped to listen to Shlomo share a song on his recorder. We also read (and sang) Psalm 42. We continued to the high place of Dan, established by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). He continued a pattern of disobedience from the time of the Judges (Judges 18) when the Danites re-located here. We also saw a Middle Bronze-Canaanite gate that dates close to the time of Abraham (Gen 14:14).

Mudbrick gate

The Canaanite mud brick gate at Tel Dan

Driving back to our hotel through the Huleh Valley and past Hazor (Joshua 11), we enjoyed dinner together as well as a gathering down on the shoreline. Under a brilliant full moon, we shared and reflected. About eight in the group went swimming under the moonlight afterwards.

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 4

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, APRIL 27:

Today we traveled north and east to the Golan Heights. It was another sunny day, with temps in the upper 80s to low 90s.

Gamla

Gamla in the Golan Heights

Departing after breakfast again at 7:30, we drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee where we made our first stop overlooking the Plains of Bethsaida. We read from Mark 9 (blind man healed) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000). Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from Bethsaida.

Climbing a bit more to the plateau of the Golan, Gamla was our next stop. Although not mentioned directly in the Gospels, no doubt Jesus was here, teaching in the 1st century synagogue here. Gamla was mentioned by Josephus as a Jewish city attacked by the Romans in 66 AD. The only indirect reference to Gamla may come in Acts 5 (which mentions a certain “Judas the Galilean” who may have been from here). From the panoramic view on top, we could look down and see the synagogue as well as the city’s fortifications. The Griffon Vulture also is protected here. We saw a few flying around.

Katzrin

A reconstructed house at Katzrin (Qatzrin)

Next, we drove to the primary city in the Golan, Katzrin (Qatzrin). Here we visited a Talmudic Village (3rd-7th century AD). Here we were introduced to the Hebraic background of Jesus’ ministry. We sat in the reconstructed stone house of Rabbi Abun where we read from Mark 2. We could see the story unfold before our very eyes! There is also a synagogue here as well.

Driving east to the border of Syria, we looked into the city of Quneitra within this war-torn country. On the top of Bental (an old military site), Shlomo shared a little modern history, particularly about the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. It was amazing to be so close to Syria. We paused to pray for the victims of the war here.

Caesarea Philippi grotto

Caesarea Philippi

This afternoon we descended down from the Golan to Caesarea Philippi. This was a very pagan city in Jesus’ day. We read from Matthew 16. It was in the region of this city where Jesus asked the question, Who do you say I am?” Here we saw the grotto area where the pagan temples and niches dedicated to Pan were located. The Banias spring here is one of the three tributaries of the Jordan River.

Close by is the nature preserve and archaeological city of Dan. We enjoyed walked on the quiet pathway along the largest of the three tributaries of the Jordan here. We paused to listen to Shlomo share on his recorder. We also considered the words of Psalm 42 (“as the deer pants for water…”). It was a nice quiet time of reflection. Continuing on the path to the archaeological site of Dan, we sat on the steps of the high place of Dan. Here we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the false worship that took place here. It was Jeroboam who set up a golden calf here (as well as in Bethel just north of Jerusalem). Upon leaving the site, we also saw a Middle Bronze/Canaanite mud-brick gate (used by Abraham, see Gen. 14:14), as well as the walls and gates of the Israelite city.

Lebanon

Looking into Lebanon from Misgav Am, Israel

On our way back to the hotel, we drove past Abel Beit Macaah where both Pastor John and Tom excavated in 2014. We read the primary story from 2 Samuel 20 about “Sheba” and the “wise woman” who lived in this city. We also ascended the hills of Naphtali to Misgav Am. Located on the border with Lebanon, we could look into southern Lebanon. We also had a wonderful panoramic view of the Huleh Valley and Mt. Hermon. Shlomo shared some more modern history about the conflicts Israel has had with this northern neighbor.

swimming

Swimming in the Sea of Galilee

Driving back to out hotel, we enjoyed dinner together (a few went swimming in the Sea of Galilee before dinner), followed by an optional devotional gathering on the water’s edge. It was a great day here in northern Israel!

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, APRIL 28: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT – BAPTISM IN THE JORDAN, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 4 Summary

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, MARCH 16:

Rabbi Abun

The reconstructed stone house of “Rabbi Abun” a Qatzrin

Today we traveled north to the Golan Heights. The weather in the morning was overcast and a big foggy, but in the afternoon we enjoyed breaks of sun. Temps were in the 50s.

Driving from the NW to NE corner of the Sea of Galilee, we made our first stop at an overview of the area of Bethsaida. This was the home town of Peter, Andrew, and Philip. We read from Mark 8 (blind man healed) and John 6 (Feeding of 5,000), two stories that took place here. We also considered Philip’s words – “Come and see” (john 1) in regard to seeing Jesus as the Messiah. We listened to The Lord’s Prayer before leaving this place.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi

Next as Gamla. With the fog setting in, visibility was poor, limiting our view of this ancient Jewish city below. The city was involved in the 1st Revolt against the Romans in 66 A.D. A 1st century synagogue is located here, no doubt one from which Jesus taught. The only indirect reference to Gamla is Acts 5 that mentions a certain Judas the Galilean who may have been from here.

Qatzrin was our next visit. This was a Talmudic village (3rd-7th century AD or so). We gathered in a reconstructed stone house (very similar to a house at the time of Jesus) where we read from Mark 2. We could see the story of the lame man healed physically and spiritually here unfold! We also saw the synagogue here dating to the same time period.

After lunch “on the fly” (bananas and apples), we drove north and east to the Syrian border. Here we learned about the 1967 and 1973 wars with Syria. We could see across the border to the Syrian town of Qunetra.

Tel Dan

The group at the nature preserve at Tel Dan

Driving west down of the Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi was the next stop. One of the tributaries of the Jordan River (Banias) begins here. We read from Matthew 16 and considered the question Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” We walked up to the Grotto area where some of the pagan temples and ritual places once stood.

Close by was the nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. Walking along the largest tributary of the Jordan through the wooded preserve was impressive. We stopped to listen to Shlomo play his recorder. We also read from Psalm 42 and enjoyed a quiet time of reflection. Entering the archaeological part of the site, we saw the high place established by Jeroboam. We read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the pattern of disobedience displayed here. Upon leaving the site, we also saw a Middle Bronze / Canaanite gate (Gen 14 … used by Abraham perhaps) and the gate structure dating to the Israelite Period.

Lebanon border

The Lebanon Border

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Misgav Am. This is located ½ mile away from the Lebanon border. The view was spectacular, not only into Lebanon, but also Mt. Hermon and the Huleh Valley. We read about Abel Beit Maacah, an archaeological tel located below in the valley (2 Samuel 20) and heard some modern history about Lebanon.

Upon arriving back at the hotel in Tiberias, we enjoyed dinner together and a free evening.

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, MARCH 17: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 4

house of rabbi abun qatzrin

The house of Rabbi Abun at Qatzrin

DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 13:

Following breakfast we departed around 7:40 and drove north today to the Golan Heights. The weather was foggy for the first few hours of the day, but it later cleared up nicely, with temps in the 60s. Our first stop was to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee. Shortly after ascending the Golan Heights, we stopped for an overview of the region below. Looking down to the city of Bethsaida (where Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from, John 1:44), we read from Mark 9 (healing of blind man) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000). It was from here where the disciples got caught in a storm while sailing back to Capernaum at night. Jesus came walking to them on the water.

As we drove further up in elevation, the visibility worsened. We turned into Gamla, our scheduled next site, but it was too foggy to see anything (the pictures displayed at Gamla are from a previous tour). Gamla was a Jewish city built on a camel-shaped ridge. THere is a 1st century synagogue here. Jesus no doubt taught here. So we left Gamla without seeing anything and drove to Katzrin, with the visibility improving as we drove. At Katzrin we visited the reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun. Although it dates to the Talmudic Period, we enjoyed listening to the Mark 2 passage about the man being lowered through the roof to Jesus within this restored stone house that was probably very similar to the houses of Jesus’ day. We could see the story unfold before our eyes!

caesaea philippi grotto

The Grotto at Caesarea Philippi

From here we drove north and east to the Syrian Border. We could look across the border and see the city of Quneitra. Shlomo shared some modern Israeli history of the 1967 and 1973 wars. Nearby we also stopped by the Valley of the Tears where the famous tank battle took place.

Following a lunch of bananas, apples, and pretzels, we descended the Golan Heights. On the way to Caesarea Philippi we made a brief stop to see the Sa’ar waterfalls. The city of built at the Banias Spring, one of the three tributaries of the Jordan River. We read from Matthew 16 and pondered the question Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” We visited the grotto area of the city.

Close by was Tel Dan, our next stop. We walked through the nature preserve that is located along the largest of the three tributaries of the Jordan. We stopped in the middle of the walk to listen to song played by Shlomo on his recorder. We also enjoyed reading and singing Psalm 42 as well. The pathway led us to the archaeological part of Dan. We read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the pattern of disobedience that was on display here. It was here where Jeroboam established a high place and a sacrificial altar. Located right on the border with Lebanon, we also heard some of the recent history about this northern neighbor of Israel as well.

Herodium temple omrit

The Herodium temple at Omrit

On our way back to the hotel, we made an extra stop at Omrit. Hiking through the cow pastures, threw mud, and up a narrow lane, we reached this impressive Roman city. Against the backdrop of the beautiful snow-capped Mt. Hermon, we saw the remains of a newly discovered Roman imperial temple complex. Its temple is identified as the Augusteum described by Josephus and built by Herod. Driving back along the Huleh Valley, we arrived back to our hotel on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After dinner we enjoyed a group gathering down on the water’s edge. It was a great second full day!

DAY 5 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 14: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT

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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 7

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6

gamla synagogue

Sitting in the 1st century synagogue at Gamla (in the Golan Heights)

Today we headed north to the Golan Heights. It was another sunny and beautiful day, with temps around 80. Departing after breakfast at the hotel, we drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee and up the Golan to where we made our first panoramic stop. With Bethsaida below us, we read from Mark 8 (blind man healed) and Matthew 14 (also John 6). The Feeding of the 5,000 took place right below us! From this corner, Jesus also walked on the water in the middle of the night to His disciples’ boat (Mark 6).

Our first site we visited was Gamla. This was the predominate Jewish city on this NE corner of the lake. Here, the 1st Jewish Revolt took place against the Romans. Here is also a 1st century synagogue. Even though not mentioned, there is a high probability that Jesus taught here (Mt. 9). For this reason, it was special to actually sit in this synagogue! The indirect reference to Gamla is Acts 5 (e.g. about a certain “Judas the Galilean” who may have been from here). Josephus (who was in this battle) records the details in his Jewish Wars.

Rabbi Abun's house katzrin

A reconstructed house at the Katzrin Village (Golan Heights)

Continuing to drive on the plateau of the Golan, Katzrin (also Qatzrin) was our next stop. We visited this Talmudic village where we sat in a reconstructed stone house similar, no doubt, to the houses in Jesus’ day. While crowded in this stone house, we read from Mark 2 about the paralyzed man being lowered down through the flat roof to Jesus below. Jesus not only healed him physically, but also spiritually. Praise God for the “authority” (S’mekah in Hebrew) of Jesus to forgive sins! There is also a synagogue here as well.

Driving now north and east, we stopped at the border with Syria. Shlomo shared some modern history about the 1967 and 1973 wars against these northern neighbors. We actually were able to look over the border into Quneitra, Syria! We prayed for those innocent victims of the civil war in this war-torn country.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi

Grabbing lunch “on the go” (e.g. bananas, pretzels, and snacks), we spent the afternoon at two more national parks. The first one was Caesarea Philippi. This was a pagan city during Jesus’ day. But it was in the “region” of this city where Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” It was Peter who replied, “You are the Christ!” (Matthew 16) Here we saw the cultic grotto used in pagan worship, including the niches used for Pan. The Banias spring here serves as one of three tributaries of the Jordan River. The transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17) also may have taken place here too!

Coming down off the Golan now our last stop of the day was Dan. We first walked through the nature preserve. Here is the largest of the tributaries of the Jordan. The walk along the river was beautiful! We enjoyed Shlomo’s recorder playing. We also considered Psalm 42 and sang together. The path leads into the archaeological part of Dan. We sat on the steps of the high place as we read from Judges 18 (the Danites conquered this city, called Laish, and relocated here) and 1 Kings 12. Jeroboam set up a false worship center here, including an altar and golden calf. We also saw the mud-brick gate of Dan, dating to around the time of Abraham.

Dan nature preserve

The Dan Nature Preserve

Since we still had ample daylight, we ascended the hills of Naphtali to Misgav Am. Here we had a tremendous view of Mt. Hermon to the east and Lebanon to the north. We literally were about 1/2 mile from the border. Shlomo shared some modern history about Lebanon. We also heard the story from the Bible (2 Samuel 20) that took place at the tel of Abel Beit Maacah below.

Driving back south through the Huleh Valley, we arrived at our hotel for dinner. We enjoyed an optional gathering down at the water’s edge to conclude the night.

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6 – MT. ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MT. CARMEL, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

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September 2016 Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Gamla tour group

September 2016 Israel tour group at Gamla

Greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the Sea of Galilee, we began this new day by driving to the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. The day would be another sunny and mild day, with cooler temperatures. As we started out, we saw a herd of gazelles. Climbing into the Golan Heights, we first stopped to overview Bethsaida, the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip. We read the stories about the blind man being healed here as well as the Feeding of the 5,000 miracle (Mark 8, John 6). These stories both took place in this area.

Next, we climbed further to the plateau of the Golan Heights to Gamla. This was a Jewish city that revolted against the Romans several times. There is a 1st century synagogue here, only one of seven found in Israel that dates to the time of Jesus. We read from Acts 5, the only indirect reference to the city (Judas, the Galilean may have the been from here). We even saw a few griffon vultures here.

Driving north now, Katzrin was our next stop. At this Talmudic Village (4th – 7th century AD), we sat in a reconstructed stone house very similar no doubt to the houses of Jesus’ day. We read from Mark 2, and envisioned the story unfolding before our very eyes! We celebrated God’s grace in forgiving us. Here we also saw a synagogue.

Driving to the border with Syria, we stopped briefly to look into this war-torn country, specifically to the town of Quneitra. Shlomo shared with us some of the history of the 1967 and 1973 wars that took place here. We learned that Israel provides medical care for inflicted Syrians (both civilians, soldiers, and rebels alike) on a regular basis. We also paused to pray for the Syrian refugees.

mt hermon ski resort

Mt. Hermon Ski Resort

This afternoon, we drove to the base of Mt. Hermon. Here we enjoy the unique experience of riding up the chair lift at Israel’s ski resort. The ride was actually quite cool. The view from on top was very good. Some in the group hiked down the steep boulder path back down to the bottom. Mt. Hermon is mentioned a few places in the Bible (Ps. 42, 133).

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop. This city was built on one of the three tributaries of the Jordan River, the Banias Spring. Here we read from Matthew 16 and heard Jesus ask the question, “Who do you say I am?” We walked up to the grotto area where there was one a Temple of Augustus as well as sacred places dedicated to Jupiter, Pan, and Nemesis.

Coming back down off the Golan Heights, the nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan was our next stop of the day. We walked along this tributary of the Jordan as well. We enjoyed a time of quiet reflection (Psalm 42). Shlomo also shared a song on his recorder. We also saw the high place of Dan, and read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. On our way out of the site, we also saw a well-preserved Middle Bronze mud-brick gate as well as part of the Israelite walls and gate system.

lebanon border with israel

Mt. Hermon near Lebanon border

On the way home, we climbed the Hills of Naphtali for a spectacular view of Lebanon, Mt. Hermon, and the Huleh Valley. We read the story of Abel Beit Macaah (2 Samuel 20) as we looked down upon this OT site. Shlomo also shared some modern history about Lebanon. E literally looked into this northern country of Israel only ½ mile away!

Driving south back to the Sea of Galilee and our hotel, we enjoyed a free evening. It was a great day up north.

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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June 2016 Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JUNE 24

Gamla

Gamla – the “Masada of the North”

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 Bethsaida healed) 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 Demoniac story 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 1st Century 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.

Mt. Hermon

Mt. Hermon ski lift

Continuing north in the Golan Heights we stopped at Katzrin, a Talmudic Village (3rd-7th Century 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).

Lebanon

Looking into Lebanon

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 pegan 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 Dan was 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: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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May 2016 Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – TUESDAY, MAY 24

Gamla

Gamla (on the Golan Heights)

This morning we embarked on this new day at 7:40. The weather was very unique this morning, with scattered showers (very unusual for mid-May!). Temps were very comfortable, with highs in the 70s. The skies cleared this afternoon.

Driving to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee and into the Golan Heights, we made our first stop overlooking the city of Bethsaida. We read from Mark 8 (blind man) and John 6 (feeding of the 5,000), with both stories taking place in this area.

Continuing to the plateau of this southern Golan area, stopped at Gamla. While unfortunately the road that leads down to the 1st century synagogue was closed, we viewed this Jewish city form above. We read from Acts 5 pertaining to an indirect reference to one “Judas the Galilean” was perhaps was from Gamla. It was here in 66 AD that the 1st Jewish Revolt began against the Romans.

Middle Bronze Gate

Middle Bronze (Canaanite) gate at Dan

Close by was the Talmudic village of Qatzrin. Here we saw a reconstructed house of a man called Rabbi Abun. We crowded into this house and read the story of Mark 2 about the paralyzed man who was lowered by friends through the roof. We could see it happening right before our eyes! We also saw another synagogue (4-5th century AD).

Driving northeast from here, Bental was our next stop. This was an old Israeli military outpost. It played an important role in the 1973 war. We looked across the border into Kuneitra, Syria from here. Shlomo shared some modern history about Syria and the challenges it poses Israel. We saw firsthand how stragically important the Golan Heights are to Israel today to preserve the safety of their citizens.

Driving through a few Druze villages and following lunch (at Birhat Ram), Caesarea Philippi was our next site. We read from Matthew 16 before ascending to the grotto area of the site. This was a pagan city during Jesus’ day. But here in the region of this city Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” One of the three tributaries of the Jordan is here (called the Banias springs).

Lebanon Border

Lebanon border (from Mashag Am)

A little west is Dan, a nature preserve and archaeological site. We walked along the Dan springs (another tributary). We enjoyed Shlomo playing of his recorded. We also read from Psalm 42 and sang “As the Deer” together while listening to the quite sounds of the springs. We walked to the high place of Dan and read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the pattern of disobedience displayed here in the days of the Bible. It was here where the Danites relocated from the coastal plain. Leaving the site, we also saw Middle Bronze mud-brick gate. Perhaps Abraham walked through this very gate? (Genesis 14:14).

With the clear skies and visibilities, on our way back to our hotel we enjoyed an extra site. Climbing 1,500 feet up the Naftali mountains, we had a spectacular view into Lebanon from the Mishgav Am kibbutz. We looked down to an Old Testament site (Abel Beit Maacah, 2 Samuel 20) and also listened some modern history about Lebanon.

Driving back through the Huleh Valley back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and a free evening tonight. It was another great day of connecting the dots with Scripture.

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 25: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES, and YARDENIT

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April, 2016 Israel-Egypt Tour, Day 5

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, APRIL 14

Sea of Galilee, Kinneret

Sea of Galilee sunrise!

Today was a perfect weather day, with sun, puffy clouds, and temps in the high 60s/low 70s. We left the hotel around 7:30. Driving north on the east side of the Sea of Galilee (past the area where the Geresene demoniac was healed – Mark 5), we began climbing the Golan Heights. Our first stop was an overview of the NW corner of the lake near where Bethsaida was located. We read from Mark 8 and John 6.

Our first site we visited was Gamla, the “camel-humped Masada of the north.” This was a city that led the 1st Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD. Although we cold not descend down to the 1st century synagogue (no doubt where Jesus taught), we could see it from above. Even though not mentioned directly in Scripture, a certain “Judas the Galilean” (founder of the Zealots in 6 AD) was from here (Acts 5).

Overlooking Gamla (in the Golan Heights)

Overlooking Gamla (in the Golan Heights)

Driving northward on the Golan Heights now, Qatzrin was our next site. This was a “Talmudic” village (3rd-7th century AD). Here we sat in a reconstructed stone house no doubt similar to the type of houses that existed in Jesus’ time. Crowded in the house, we read from Mark 2 (the paralytic lowered down to Jesus). We considered Jesus’ remarkable ministry of compassion and mercy to the “shamed” of the world.

Driving northeast, we climbed an dormant volcano called Bental where we viewed the border with Syria. Shlomo shared with us some of the modern day history (1967 and 1973 wars) with Syria. We paused to pray for those inflicted by war in Syria these last few years.

After lunch at a Druze restaurant located on the foothills of Mt. Hermon (Psalm 133), we descended off the Golan Heights to Caesarea Philippi. Here we read from Matthew 16 about Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” We saw the grotto and the shrines of this pagan city, as well as the plentiful amounts of water that flow from these springs originating from Mt. Hermon.

Dan, Israel

The nature preserve at Dan

Our last site of the day was Dan. This is in part a beautiful nature preserve in addition to an archaeological site. Here, we walked along the largest of the Jordan tributaries, enjoying the shady trees. We stopped by the quiet waters where we enjoyed Shlomo playing his recorder. We also read from Psalm 42. Walking to the “high place of Dan, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the “pattern of disobedience” here. It was Jeroboam who established this high place and golden calf here. The city was destroyed in 722 BC by the Assyrians.

The drive back to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to our hotel was beautiful, with great visibilities of the region and a great sunset. We enjoyed dinner together and another gathering of worship and reflection on the water’s edge. It was another great day!

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, APRIL 15: MT. ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIN, CAPERNAUM, ANCIENT BOAT, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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March 2016 Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9

Overlooking the Bethsaida Plain (NE corner of Sea of Galilee)

Overlooking the Bethsaida Plain (NE corner of Sea of Galilee)

It was another perfect weather day today, with sun and temps around 75. After breakfast, we drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee. We began to climb the Golan Heights. Although a bit hazy, the view from our first stop of the plain of Bethsaida below set the context for the stories of Mark 8 (blind man healed) and John 6 (Feeding of the 5,000). Following this miracle, Jesus sent his disciples off in a boat heading back to Capernaum while He stayed behind to pray. As the nightly storm arose, Jesus came walking on the water. This took place at this corner of the lake.

Driving further eastward, we visited Gamla. Driving down to the site itself, we walked to the ruins of this 1st century city. We sat in the synagogue here as we considered how Jesus taught in many towns and villages. We also read from Acts 5 about “Judas the Galilean” who was probably the one who led a revolt here in 6 AD. Here we also saw a number of the Griffon vultures.

1st century synagogue at Gamla (Golan Heights)

1st century synagogue at Gamla (Golan Heights)

Qatzrin (Katzrin) was our next site. This was a Talmudic village (3rd-7th century AD). We sat in a marvelous reconstructed stone house, probably very similar to the type of houses during Jesus’ day. We heard the story of the lame man being lowered through the roof (Mark 2). We celebrated Jesus’ physical and spiritual healing of this man. Jesus came to save sinners like us. By His grace we are saved too! There is also a synagogue here as well, but it dates much later than Jesus’ day.

Driving north, Bental was our next stop. This was the location of an Israeli military bunker/lookout built high on a old volcano. From the top we could look into Syria. All was quiet. Shlomo shared with us some of the history involving the 1967 and 1973 wars and the strategic importance of this place.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi

Stopping at a grocery store in one of the Druze villages (for a quick lunch of bananas and pretzels J), this allowed us ample time to visit Caesarea Philippi as well as the nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. It was in the region of Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say I am?” (Mathew 16). This was a powerful question Jesus with which He challenged His disciples. We visited the grotto area of this pagan city, which included a Temple dedicated to Augustus as well as a worship center for Pan, the shepherding god.

Dan was our last site here in the north. We walked through a beautiful nature preserve located along the headwaters of the Jordan River. We enjoyed a quite time of song and reflection (Psalm 42). Here we considered the pattern of disobedience displayed here throughout Israelite history. We sat on the steps of the high place established by Jeroboam as we listened to the stories of Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. The Lebanon border can also be seen from here. We saw the Middle Bronze (Canaanite) mud-brick gate here as well as we left the site.

Sitting on the Mt. of Beatitudes

Sitting on the Mt. of Beatitudes

Heading back to the Sea of Galilee, our final stop was the Mt. of Beatitudes. We heard the reading of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. We considered these kingdom principles for our lives as followers of Christ. Most in the group walked down to the water’s edge, enjoying a time of solitude and reflection.

Arriving back to our hotel, we freshened up for dinner. This was followed by a time of fellowship and sharing once again at the water’s edge. It was another great day!

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MARCH 10: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT (OPTIONAL BAPTISM)

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