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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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 7 Summary

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, JUNE 18:

Gamla

Gamla – the “Masada of the north”

Today we headed north to the Golan Heights. We would once again have sunny skies, with temps a bit cooler (highs around 90). Driving around the the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee, we first stopped to overview Bethsaida. This was the home town of Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1). We read from Mark 8 (blind man healed) and John 6 (Feed of the 5,000) the took place in this area.

Driving to the plateau of the Golan Heights, Gamla was our second stop. It is located 6 miles east of the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee. This was a Jewish city in the time of Jesus, and the first city to revolt against the Romans in 66 AD. Although the road down to the 1st century synagogue was closed, the view of this “camel-shaped” city was great from above. Even though not mentioned in the Bible, we read from Acts 5 that mentions a certain “Judas the Galilean” who some think may have been from here.

Qatzrin

Qatzrin – Reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun

Continuing north, The Talmudic village of Katzrin was our next stop. Here we were introduced to the Hebraic background of Jesus. Sitting in a reconstructed stone house similar to one during the time of Jesus, we read from Mark 2 (that actually took place in Capernaum) about the lame man being lowered through the roof. We could see the story taking place in front of us! We also saw a synagogue dating to the same time period (4th-7th century AD).

Close by we drove to the border with Syria and looked into this war-torn country. Quneitra is the city we could see directly across the border. Shlomo shared with us some history of the 1967 and 1973 wars with these northern enemies of Israel. Today, Israel medically treats many wounded Syrians.

Mt.. Hermon

View from top of Mt. Hermon

Eating lunch on the go today (apples, bananas, and snacks), we next drove through the dew Druze villages to Mt. Hermon. This is the highest mountain in Israel (7,300 feet!). Taking the ski chair-life up to the top, the view of the region from here was spectacular. Five couples renewed their wedding vows here as well. It was special for all. Most took the ski life back down although a few in the group joined Pastor John in waking down the steep trail back to the bus. We read from Psalm 133 that mentions this mountain.

Descending down off the Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi was our next site. It was “in the region” (Matthew 16) of this pagan city where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” We walked to the grotto area of this ancient cultic center. Also here was one of the three tributaries (called the Banias) of the Jordan River.

Lebanon

Looking into Lebanon from Kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel

Our last site we visited was Dan. This is actually both a nature preserve as well as an archaeological site. The walk along the Dan (the largest of the tributaries) was beautiful. On the walk we stopped for a brief time of song and devotional (Psalm 42). We also considered the stories of Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 while sitting on the steps of the high place of the archaeological site of Dan. It was Jeroboam who established false worship here. Upon leaving the site, we saw the Middle Canaanite mud-brick gate that perhaps was used by Abraham (Genesis 14) as well as the Israelite gate complex from the 9th century BC.

On our way back to the hotel, we ascended to Misgav Am located on the Hills of Naphtali. The view into Lebanon, Mt. Hermon, and the Huleh Valley below was incredible. We read from 2 Samuel 20 (about Sheba and Joab at Abel Beat Macaah) and heard Shlomo share some modern history about Lebanon.

Driving back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and an optional gathering down at the shoreline of the lake together. It was another great day here in Israel!

DAY 8 – MONDAY, JUNE 19: ARBEL, MAGDALA, CHORAZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT

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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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