DAY 8 – MONDAY, JUNE 24
This morning we said “goodbye” to this beautiful “retreat center” called Maagan and the Sea of Galilee. Leaving at 7:30, our first stop was the precipice of Nazareth. From here we got our first view of the Jezreel Valley. We saw Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, the Carmel Ridge (in the haze to the southwest) and of course the Nazareth Ridge. We recalled all the stories that took place here (e.g. Deborah & Barak, Gideon, Elijah) and how God brought victory to those who entrusted the results into His hands. We also read from Luke 4 and the story of Jesus teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth. Close by is Sepporis, the cultural center and primary city in the days of the 1st century. Small-town Nazareth lived in the shadows of this influential city just 4 miles away. This archaeological site is rich with mosaics, including the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.” What an impressive Roman & Jewish city this was.
From here, we drove across the Jezreel Valley to the impressive Old Testament site of Megiddo. Here, this ancient city has everything, from fortifications to gates, and storehouses & stables. We also descend 186 steps down to and through the water system. The purpose of the water system was to safely bring water into the city.
We continued to drive south and west towards our last stop of the day, the coastal city built by King Herod called Caesarea. Nestled along the sand-skirted Mediterranean Sea, we first saw the impressive aqueduct that was used to bring fresh water into the city from the Mt. Carmel range. Then we entered at the entrance of the theater. We saw the hippodrome as well as the palace area. Pontius Pilate was stationed here at the time of Jesus’ trial. We saw a replica of the inscription that bears his name.
We end the day by driving to Jerusalem. We arrived at our hotel, the Leonardo, and we look forward to spending four overnights here. We enjoyed dinner at 6:30, followed by an “orientation walk” to the Old City and the Western Wall. We are eager to spend our first full day in Jerusalem tomorrow.