DAY 7 – SATURDAY, MAY 2
Today we said goodbye to the Sea of Galilee. Checking out and loading the bus on what would be another sunny and warm day (temps in low 80s again), we drove south through the Jordan Valley to Beth Shean. We entered the site by walking in through the upper gate. On the way we saw a snake giving birth to little snakes in a hole she burrowed. It was very unique to see this. Climbing the tel of Old Testament Beth Shean from one side, and then looking down to the Roman city below was amazing. The view was spectacular. Walking down 180 steps, we visited the agora (market place), the colonnaded Roman street, the bathhouse and the theater. With only about 10% exposed to this point by archaeologists., there is a lot to see here. We spend over 2 hours here at this massive site.
Continuing our drive south through the Jordan Valley, we came to Jericho. First, we visited the OT tel of the city. From on top, we reviewed the stories of Moses (who died on Mt. Nebo, Dt. 34), Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3-4), the ministry of Elijah & Elisha (2 Kings 2), and Jesus’ baptism at “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (John 1). We also could see the location of NT Jericho about 1.5 miles south of OT Jericho. We reviewed the stories of Zacheaus (Lk. 19), Bartimeaus (Mk. 10) and The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). We saw not only the oldest tower in antiquity in Israel (some say in the world), but also the stone retaining/revetment walls of the Canaanite city conquered by Joshua (Josh. 6). It was the mud-brick walls on top of the stone retaining walls that came tumblin’ down.
Following lunch (and since Shiloh was closed today), we enjoyed a nice “surprise.” We took the cable car to the high cliff called Jebel Quarantel (Mt. of Temptation). The view was spectacular of the entire Jericho valley below. We also could see the northern part of the Dead Sea from here. Even though the gate into the Greek Orthodox monastery was locked, we enjoyed the view and the reading of Joshua 6 and Matthew 4.
Leaving Jericho en route to ascending 4,000 feet to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop to a place overlooking the Wadi Qelt and the Judean Desert. We read from Isaiah 40 (“Prepare the way for the Lord…”) and heard Shlomo sing Psalm 23. Arriving in Jerusalem, we already could see the Dome of the Rock and the walls of the Old City. Checking in at 4:30 gave us some free time before dinner at 6:30, followed by an optional walk to the Western Wall at 7:30. To see the Wall at night was truly incredible!
We are looking forward to our first full day here in Jerusalem tomorrow!
DAY 8 – SUNDAY, MAY 3
We plan to visit the Mt. of Olives, Old City, Via Dolorosa, Herodium, and Bethlehem.