DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY, JANUARY 14:
Fight and arrival in Israel
Today our departure date finally arrived! With enthusiasm, we met at the Newark Airport in NJ for our flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. Praise God that everyone’s flight was on time getting into Newark. Our international flight took off at 4:50 p.m. After dinner, a few movies, a few hours of sleep (for most of us), and breakfast, we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport shortly after 9 a.m. Flying over the coastline of the land of Israel was exciting! Following going through the Passport Control and luggage, we were greeted by our guide (Shlomo Ben Asher) and our driver (David Elimelech).
Leaving the airport at about 10:30, we drove to our first site of the day, an Old Testament site called Gezer. Located in the Shephelah (“Lowlands”) of Judah along the Aijalon Valley, Gezer was strategically located city during the Canaanite and Israelite Periods. We read from Joshua 10 (the “sun standing still over Aijalon…), I Kings 9 (Solomon re-fortifying the city) and Ecclesiastes 3 (the “seasons of life”). We also read from the Gezer Calendar (found here about 100 years ago). Archaeologically, we saw the Canaanite tower, wall, gate, and water tunnel, and the Israelite wall and gate. Leaving the site we passed by the standing stones (messabot) of Gezer.
Driving into Tel Aviv (a city of about 400,000 people started in 1909) we enjoyed lunch along the Rothchild Boulevard before visiting Independence Hall. It was here where Israel became a State! It was on May 15, 1948 and in a very modest building where David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) declared Israel’s statehood!
Our last stop of the day was to Joppa (Jaffa). We enjoyed walking through the quiet alleyways of this city located just south of Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean Sea. We read from Acts 9 and 10 (about Peter) and celebrated God’s redemptive plan now widening to include Gentiles.
Arriving at the Tal Hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv, we checked in and enjoyed some rest time before dinner. Following dinner some in the group enjoyed walking along the beautiful sandy beach!
Although tired from the long flight and jet lag, we are thrilled to be here in the land of the Bible!!