May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 9

DAY 9 – SUNDAY, MAY 13: SEPPORIS, NAZARETH PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

(Theme of the Day: Learning to trust God in our battles)

Today we checked out of our hotel in the Galilee. Leaving shortly after 7:30, we headed to our first site on what would be another very nice day (with a mix of sun and clouds, good visibility, and temps in the high 70s).

Sepporis

Mona Lisa Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of there Galilee” mosaic at Sepporis

Located in the Lower Galilee, Sepporis was our first site. This was a huge Hellenized Jewish city in the time of Jesus and served as the capital city of the region. Here we saw beautiful mosaics, including the Nile and Mona Lisa of the Galilee mosaics. This was a cute that flourished through the Roman period. We also saw a small theater. Even though not mentioned in the Gospels, Jesus must have visited this city, especially while growing up only 5 miles away in Nazareth.

Precipice of Nazareth

Nazarerth

Precipice of Nazareth

Close by is the city of Nazareth. It is predominately an Arab city (who are Israeli citizens) of about 80,000 today. Driving through the edfe of this city, we arrived at the Precipice of Nazareth. Here we enjoyed our first of three views of the Jezreel Valley. We saw Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). We considered the story of Luke 4 (Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue) and John 1. We were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew. We also enjoyed a time of worship and reflection here as well.

Megiddo

Megiddo

The excavations at Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we visited Megiddo. This is an archaeological site that has over two dozen levels of occupation over a 2,500 year period (from Early Bronze to Israelite). Climbing the tel (ancient mound), we saw three gates complexes( from both the Canaanite and Israelite time period), Solomon’s stables, a Canaanite stone altar, and a grain bin (9th century BC) among other things. Looking out upon the valley (Armegeddon) we recalled Revelation 16 and celebrated that God has the final word in the end times! We exited the site through the water system.

Mt. Carmel/Muhraka

Jezreel Valley

The Jezreel Valley

Following lunch at a place owned by Druze, we made a brief stop at Muhraka. Here we gathered in a small chapel and read from Isaiah 35, Song of Songs 7, and 1 Kings 18. It was here God displayed His power and glory to Elijah. We enjoyed singing in the chapel too! The roof of the chapel provided us a marvelous last view of the Jezreel Valley below.

Caesarea

Caesarea

Hippodrome at Caesarea

Our last stop of the day was Caesarea. Tis was another huge city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Sitting the the theater, we read from Acts 10, 12, 21, and 26. Both Peter and Paul proclaimed their faith boldly here! We also saw the palace and hippodrome. Before leaving the site, we enjoyed seeing the aqueduct that was used to bring water into the city from the Carmel Range.

Jerusalem

Western Wall

Jerusalem Day at Western Wall

From here was drove about 2 hours to Jerusalem. Traffic was heavy heading into this capital city of Israel. We checked into our hotel, enjoyed dinner and then an optional walk to the Western Wall. It is both exciting and historic to be here for Israel’s 70th Anniversary tomorrow and the moving the the US Embassy to Jerusalem!

DAY 10 –MONDAY, MAY 14: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

(Theme of the Day: Jesus and His redemptive plan)

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May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 7

DAY 7 – FRIDAY, MAY 11: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, BETHSAIDA, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES

(Theme of the Day: Walking as “Talmidim” / disciples of Jesus) 

Today was entirely spent in the Sea of Galilee area. From the southern end to the northwest corner, we retraced the life and ministry of Jesus today. The weather was once again wonderful, with full sun and highs in the 80s, with an afternoon breeze.

Arbel

Arbel Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee from the top of Arbel

Following breakfast, we drove to the cliffs of Arbel. This is a high 800 foot cliff that overlooks the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. About 30 in the group hiked to the top, while others bussed around from the other side and walking about 400 feet to the top. What a fabulous view from here!  Matthew 13 (kingdom parable of the seed) as we saw all kinds of vegetation, including the thorn thistle.

Yardenit/Jordan River Baptism

Baptism in Jordan River

Baptism in Jordan River (at Yardenit)

Driving to the southern end of the lake, about 25 in the group were baptized in the Jordan River at a place called Yardenit. It was a special time of reaffirming our faith-walk with Christ. The water was warm and we had the place to ourselves.

Magdala

Magdala synagogue

Magdala synagogue

Driving back north along the western shoreline, Magdala was our next visit. This was a prominent 1st century city during the times of Jesus. A certain follower of Jesus, Mary, was from here. We saw the 1st century synagogue here (only one of about seven that date to the time of Jesus have been discovered so far), and we could picture Jesus teaching from the middle of this one!

Chorazin

Chorazin synagogue

The 3rd century synagogue at Chorazin

Following a wonderful “fish” lunch, we drove to the NW corner of the lake to Chorazin. Here we saw a 3rd century synagogue, along with the “Moses’ seat” that was discovered here. We read from Matthew 23 that mentions it. This city was one of three condemned by Jesus because of their unbelief (Bethsaida and Capernaum were the other two, see Matthew 11).

Capernaum

Capernaum synagogue

The ruins of Capernaum

Located down along the shoreline, Capernaum was our next stop. This major city served as Jesus’ “home base” for his ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (under which was the 1st century one), we read from many of there Gospel accounts of Jesus being here (Mark, 1,2, and 9; Luke 7 and 8; John 6). Jesus displayed his s’mekah (authority) here as well as his compassion and healing. We also considered that it was probably here where Jesus called at least five of His disciples (Mt. 4).

Sea of Galilee Boat Ride

Sea of Galilee

Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

Driving to Nof Ginnosar, we enjoyed seeing a 1st century ancient wooden boat that was discovered in 1986 by two brothers from the kibbutz here.  This was followed by our own “boat ride” out on the lake. We enjoyed a time of worship, Scripture (Mark 4, Matthew 14), and reflection as we remembered Jesus’ words, “Peace, be still.” What a promise when we encounter our own “storms” of life!

Mt. of Beatitudes 

Beatitudes

The Mt. of Beatitudes and Sea of Galilee

Our last stop of the day was to the Mt. of Beatitudes. This was where Jesus taught a message about the kingdom principles. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount (although this was probably Jesus’ “go-to” message elsewhere as well (see Luke 7). We heard Matthew 5 in both Hebrew (as it would have been spoken by Jesus) and in English. Most in the group walked down to the water’s edge to end this experience.

We returned to ur hotel for dinner and another free evening.

DAY 9 – SUNDAY, MAY 13: SEPPORIS, NAZARETH PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

(Theme of the Day: Learning to trust God in our battles)

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May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 6

DAY 6 – THURSDAY, MAY 10: JERICHO, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, SEA OF GALILEE

(Theme of the Day: Preparing and recommitting ourselves to trust God) 

Today we drove north to Galilee. On the way through the Judean Desert, Hill Country of Samaria/Ephraim, and the Jordan Valley, we saw some great sites that again connected us to the Bible.  It was another sunny day, with highs in the 80s.

Jericho

Jericho walls

The retaining walls of Jericho

Our first site was Jericho. Climbing to the top of the site, we first looked east towards Mt. Nebo. This is where Moses died (Dt. 34). Elijah and Elisha also had ministries in this area. Looking about 2 miles south we could see “New Testament” Jericho (where Zacheaus and Bartimeaus were from (Luke 19, Mark 10). Herod had his winter palace here. He also died here. Yet it was this Old Testament Canaanite site that Joshua conquered. We read from Joshua 6 as we saw the very retaining walls that Joshua saw! It was on top of this stone wall that a mud-brick wall was placed. It was the mud-brick wall that came tumblin’ down! We praise God for the reliability of Scripture and how archaeology confirms the biblical record!

Wadi Qelt/Judean Desert

Wadi Qelt

The Wadi Qelt & Judean Desert

Driving west towards Jerusalem, we cut off the main road for a panoramic view of the Wadi Qelt. Here we heard the words of Isaiah 40 from “the prophet.” This Judean Desert was the context for these words of hope and promise. John the Baptist would echo these same words! Shlomo also sang Psalm 23 for us as well. 

Shiloh

Ancient Shiloh

Ancient Shiloh

Continuing our drive through the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13) and past Michmash (I Samuel 13-14) and Bethel (Genesis 12 and 28), we arrived at ancient Shiloh. It was here where the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant was located until the Philistines took the city (1 Samuel 4). We read about the call of Samuel that took place here (1 Samuel 3) and Jeremiah 7 about this place. Before leaving, we walked down to the flat area of the site where most suggest the Tabernacle was located.

Beth Shean

Beth Shean

Beth Shean

Continuing our drive north through the Samaritan hills, we saw lots of shepherds along the way. We arrived at Beth Shean for lunch and to visit this huge archaeological Roman site. We saw the bathhouses, the pillared streets, the agora (market place), many mosaics, the public latrine, and the impressive theater. Some climbed to the top of the OT site of Beth Shean were Saul’s body was hung after he died on M.t Gilboa close by (1 Samuel 31).

Sea of Galilee

Driving about 30 minutes north to the Sea of Galilee, we arrived at our hotels. One is located on the southern shoreline of this “lake,” while some are staying on the NW corner in Tiberias. We enjoyed dinner together and a free evening.

DAY 7 – FRIDAY, MAY 11: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, BETHSAIDA, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES

(Theme of the Day: Walking as “Talmidim” / disciples of Jesus) 

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The Quiet Capernaum Shoreline

One of the many special places in Israel to experience is the Capernaum shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. Today Capernaum is a well-maintained archaeological site, with its property belonging to the Franciscan Catholics. Back in the days of Jesus, it was the main Galilean town located right on the northwest corner of the lake. It was a busy place. Yet, it was also a special place! A Special Place There are several reasons why this is such a special place still today: Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John here (Matthew 4). They were fishermen who were asked to leave their profession in order to follow the Master! Matthew (Levi) also lived here in Capernaum. He was a port tax collector … Continue reading

March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 6

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, MARCH 16: KINNERET CEMETERY, JORDAN NORTHERN BORDER CROSSING, JERASH, MT. NEBO, MEDEBA, PETRA

This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. We were once again greeted with sun, with eventual high temps in the 70s. Perfect once again!

Kinneret Cemetery

Rachel the Poet

“Rachel the Poet’s” grave – Kinneret Cemetery

Leaving at 7:15 following breakfast, we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Kinneret Cemetery. This was a cemetery used by early Jewish pioneers to the land. We stood around the grave of a certain Rachel (Bluwstein). She immigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1909 and died in 1931. She is known for her poetry. She even appears on the new 20 shekel bill.

Jordan Border Crossing/Jerash

Jerash Jordan

Jerash Jordan

Driving south about 20 miles through the Jordan Valley, we made our crossing into Jordan at the Sheik Border Crossing. With a little patience, we crossed without any issues. We we met on the Jordan side by our Jordanian guide, Sammy, and our driver.

After loading the bus, we drove about an hour and half to Jeresh. This was a huge Decopolis city of the Romans. Here we saw many things, including the hippodrome, the massive theater, and Temple of Athena, the many other ancient ruins.

Mt. Nebo

Mt. Nebo

The view of Israel from Mt. Nebo

Driving south through the edge of Amman we arrived at Mt. Nebo. Here we looked westward into back into Israel (the Promised Land) as Moses did before he died on this mountain. We read from Deuteronomy 34 and Joshua 1. We were encouraged to be “strong and courageous” in our walk of faith. Before leaving, we also saw the newly renovated chapel built over the ruins of a Byzantine church (4-5th century AD). The mosaics were beautiful! We also stopped briefly at a mosaic shop. Here we saw a replica of the Medeba Map, a 6th century AD map of the Holyland.

Drive to Petra

From here we continued through the city of Medeba and drove south on the Desert Highway to Petra. The drive took about 3.5 hours, with a short break on the way. Arriving at our hotel we enjoyed a late dinner together before retiring for the night. We are looking forward to visiting Petra early tomorrow!

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, MARCH 17: PETRA, WADI RUM

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 5

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MARCH 15: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

Today was a day of focusing upon the life and ministry of Jesus here in the region of the Sea of Galilee. It weather provided mostly sunny skies, with highs in the low 70s.

Arbel

Arbel

Mt. Arbel on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee

Following another plentiful breakfast, we drove about five minutes to the trailhead leading up a 800 foot cliff called Arbel. 11 in the group climbed, while the rest of the group bussed around to the other side and ascended the top with a shorter walk. The view from the top was stunning. We could see the entire NW corner of the lake (Sea of Galilee) below. Before leaving the top, a number of couples renewed their wedding vows! It was special!

Yardenit/Jordan River

Baptism in the Jordan

Baptism in the Jordan River

Driving to the southern end of the lake, six in the group renewed their baptism in the waters of the Jordan River. We had the entire placed (called Yardenit) to ourselves. While the water was a bit chilly still this time of year, the experience was rewarding!

Magdala

Magdala synagogue

The 1st century Magdala synagogue

Driving back through Tiberias, our next stop was Magdala. This was where a certain “Mary” was from. Unique to this archeological site is the 1st century synagogue uncovered here. It took a simple rectangular shape but no bigger than to hold about 60 people. We could picture Jesus teaching here!

Chorazin

Following lunch (the traditional St. Peter’s fish), we visited Chorazin. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus. In the 3rd century synagogue we read from Matthew 23 about the Moses’ seat. We also learned a life-lesson about humility. The entire city was built with black basaltic stone.

Capernaum

Capernaum

The 5th century Capernaum synagogue

Down on the shoreline, Capernaum is located. As we entered the site, we made our way to the 5th century synagogue (the 1st century one is below). Here we sat together and heard the many stories that took here involving Jesus (Mark 1, 2, 5, and 9; Luke 7; and John 6). Besides seeing other 1st century ruins of houses, and a 5th century octagonal church, we enjoyed a few moments of quiet reflection on the shoreline. This was most likely where Jesus called the fishermen disciples! He also called Matthew (Levi) here too to follow Him.

Boat Ride/Ancient Boat

Returning to Nof Ginnosar, we boarded our own boat for a 50 minute “sail” on the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed a time of worship and reflection. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the storm storm narratives about Jesus calming the stormy waters. Following this, we saw the ancient boat that dates to the 1st century! It was found in 1986 by two brothers.

Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. of Beatitudes

The Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

The last stop of the day was the Mt. of Beatitudes. While sitting on the rocks overlooking a natural amphitheater, we listened to the first part of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. It is possible that more than 5,000 would have listened to Jesus share these kingdom principles. Following a quiet time, many in the group walked down the pathway that leads to the water’s edge below. This sunset encounter was special and a great way to end the day.

We returned to our hotel for dinner. Many in the group enjoyed painting their stones collected from Capernaum.

It was a day where the life and ministry of Jesus came alive!

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, MARCH 16: KINNERET CEMETERY, JORDAN NORTHERN BORDER CROSSING, JERASH, MT. NEBO, MEDEBA, PETRA

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 4

DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14: GAMLA, QATZRIN, SYRIAN BORDER, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

Today we headed north to the Golan Heights. It was another sunny day, with perfect temps around 75. It would be a day of blessing.

Plain of Bethsaida

NE corner of Sea of Galilee

NE corner of the Sea of Galilee

Following a great breakfast (with freshly-squeezed orange juice), we left the hotel around 7:30. Driving to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, we then headed east towards Bethsaida (the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, John 1). While the muddy and rutted dirt road to El Araj (a new possible site for the Bethsaida) prevented us from seeing this new excavation, we drove to a wonderful overlook further east of the region below. Here we could see the eastern shoreline of the lake (Mark 5), Tiberias to the west, and with the good visibility even the top of Mt. Tabor far in the distance in the Jezreel Valley. To the north we could see Mt. Hermon (Israel’s highest peak – 7,300 feet, see Psalm 133). But looking down to the lake we read form Mark 8 (healing of the blind man from Bethsaida) and John 6 (the Feeding of the 5,000).

Gamla

Gamla synagogue

The 1st century synagogue at Gamla

Continuing to the plateau of the Golan Heights, Gamla was our next stop. This was a Jewish city from the 1st century BC. The city was one of the first major cities taken by the Romans during the First Revolt (66 AD). We walked to the 1st century synagogue here. Although not mentioned specifically, perhaps Jesus taught here as He did in many of the Galilean synagogues (Mt. 4). We even saw a few griffon vultures.

Katzrin

Katzrin house

Inside the Talmudic house at Katzrin

The Talmudic village of Katzrin (dating from 3rd-7th century AD) was our next stop. We were introduced to the Hebraic background of the culture, and specifically of the life and ministry of Jesus here. Entering the reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun, we read from Mark 2 about Jesus healing the crippled man lowered down to Him through the roof. We could see it happening in a stone house like this! Here, Jesus also displayed authority (s’mekah) in forgiving the man’s sins too. We paused to celebrate God’s forgiveness for us! Leaving the site we walked through the synagogue.

Bental

Mt. Hermon

Mt. Hermon from Bental

Eating bananas, apples, and snacks for lunch today, we made out way to Bental. We saw a few gazelles along the way! This old Israeli military outpost overlooks the border with Syria. Shlomo shared about the 1967 and 1973 wars that took place in this region. Looking across the border, we could see Kuneitra as well as numerous other Syrian towns. We felt perfectly safe here despite what has happened in Syria so close to the border. The up-close view of Mt. Hermon was amazing!

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi

The sacred area of Caesarea Philippi

Descending down off the Golan Heights, we visited Caesarea Philippi. This was a pagan city during the day so of Jesus. Yet it was in this region where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” We saw the grotto/cultic center of the city, which included a Temple of Augustus, and shrines dedicated to Pan, Nemesis, Zeus, and the sacred goats.

Dan

mud-brick Dan gate

The Canaanite mud-brick gate of Tel Dan

Our last stop of the day was to the nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. Walking along the largest tributary of the Jordan River (Banias and Hatsbani are the others), we enjoyed the beauty of this area. We stopped along the path to listen to Shlomo share a song on his recorder and to read (and sing) Psalm 42. Walking further, we entered the archaeological site. At the altar and high place built by Jeroboam, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. Overlooking the Lebanon border to the north, we also heard Shlomo share about the present situation with this country. Leaving the site, we saw a mud-brick gate that possibly dates to the time of Abraham.

Back to the Hotel

From here we drove back home through the Huleh Valley. Passing Abel Beit Macaah (where Pastor John dug in 2014), we read from 2 Samuel 20 about the “wise woman.” On our way back to the hotel we also passed by Hazor, a major Canaanite city destroyed by Joshua (Josh. 11). We returned to the hotel for dinner and a nice gathering down by the water’s edge.

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MARCH 15: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 3

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, MARCH 13: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS Today was our first full day of the tour. We enjoyed the sun all day long, with highs in the mid 70s. Perfect! Caesarea Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after a great breakfast and checkout, we drove north to Caesarea. This was a city located right on the Mediterranean coastline by Herod the Great in 22 BC. We started in the Roman theater. We read about Peter (Acts 10), Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), Philip (Acts 21), and Paul (Acts 26). Walking through the rest of the site we saw the palace, the hippodrome, many mosaics, a few statutes, and the harbor area. We exited the site … Continue reading

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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February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 4

DAY 4 – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, CHORAZIM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MAGDALA

Today was all about Jesus, with a focus on the “where and what” He taught and “how” He shared His kingdom message. The weather was actually very comfortable. While we had some showers in the early morning, we actually had breaks of sun and clouds the rest of the day, with highs in the 60s.

Mt. Arbel

Sea of Galilee from Arbel

The view of the Sea of Galilee from on top of Arbel

Leaving the hotel shortly after 7:30, we drove to the trailhead (in the Valley of the Doves) for the path that leads to the top of Mt. Arbel. Seven in the group decided to climb this peak (about an 800 foot ascent taking about 80 minutes) while the majority in the group drove to the visitor center on the back side, and walking about 300 yards to the top. The view from the top was breath-taking, enabling us to see the entire NW corner of the Sea of Galilee below. This was primarily where Jesus served!

Magdala

Magdala synagogue

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala

Driving back down through Tiberias, we arrived at Magdala. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue. While not specifically mentioned in the Gospels, it is highly probable that Jesus taught here! Among the other ruins we saw the marketplace, miqveh (ritual baths), and the harbor area. We also enjoyed a time of singing in the newly-built chapel on the grounds. The acoustics were very good.

Chorazim

Chorazim synagogue

The 3rd century AD synagogue at Chorazim

Following a “fish lunch” in the area, we drove to Chorazim. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus because of their unbelief and lack of repentence (the other two were Bethsaida and Capernaum). Located on a hillside on this NW corner of the lake and about a few miles away from the water’s edge, we saw the 3rd century synagogue. We read from Matthew 23 about the Moses’ Seat (one was found here in earlier excavations) and about Jesus condemnation of the Pharisee’s hypocrisy.

Capernaum

synagogue Capernaum

The 5th century synagogue at Capernaum

Driving back down to the shoreline of the lake, we visited Capernaum. This city served as the home-base for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (built overtop the 1st century one), we read from Mark 1,2, and 9; Luke 7 and 8; and John 6. Jesus taught here and performed many miracles of healing here. Besides seeing some of the 1st century ruins, we spent some reflective time down on the shoreline. It was most likely here where Jesus called at least five of His disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew – see Mt. 4) Each of us also picked up a smooth stone (for painting after dinner).

Boat Ride

Sea of Galilee boat ride

Mt. of Beatitudes from our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day with a boat ride on the lake. After seeing the small 1st century boat found here in 1986, we “sailed” to the northern end of the lake. On the way we read from Matthew 14; Mark 4, 5, and 8; and John 6. The two storm narratives were particularly meaningful as we sailing on the water ourselves. We also enjoyed a time of worship, reflection, and journaling.

We returned to your hotel for dinner and a gathering. We painted the rocks we collected from Capernaum. It was a great day of focusing on the life and ministry of “Rabbi Jesus!”

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

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