DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 27:
Today we left the Sea of Galilee area. On this day with a mix of sun, clouds, and rain, it was an amazing day of rainbows! We saw at least 4 or 5 different rainbows throughout the day.
Driving south down the Jordan River Valley about 20 miles from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, our first stop was the massive city of Beth Shean. We approached this OT & NT city from the north. The path took us from the farthest city gate to the top of the OT tel. The view of the Roman city below was breath-taking! Before seeing this incredible Roman city, we first read 1 Samuel 31. It was on the walls of Beth Shean that Saul’s body as hung (he died close on Mt. Gilboa). As we descended down to the Roman city, we saw may things, including Roman streets, pillars a bathhouse, a theater, and even a public latrine. It was probably a pagan Gentile city like this one where the Prodical Son went too before running back to his compassionate father.
Leaving Beth Shean, we continued south in the valley before taking a road to the west. We ascended into the Hill Country of Samaria/Ephraim. While driving we saw many shepherds on the hillsides with their goat and sheep (Mt. 25). We also recalled the stories of Abraham and Jacob at Shechem (Genesis 12, 34), Joshua at Mt. Gerazim and Mt Ebal (Josh. 8), and Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Sychar (John 4). The landscape was scenic, especially with the spectacular rainbows that appeared!
We arrived at Shiloh just before noon. We walked to the top of the tel and saw a movie presentation. It was here where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years. It was also here where Samuel heard the voice of God (1 Samuel 3). We walked down to the place where some suggest the Tabernacle once stood! We also remembered the words of warning by Jeremiah who mentions this place (Jer. 7).
Driving south, we past by Bethel (Genesis 12, 28), and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) before descending down into the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13). We saw many gazelles here on the hillsides.
We finally arrived at Jericho. After lunch here, we walked to the top of the tel. Looking east, we could see Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34), and the crossing of the Jordan (Josh. 2). Jesus was also baptized in the Jordan here (John 1). We also saw where NT Jericho was located (Mk. 10, Luke 19). We also saw the double Canaanite retaining walls that Joshua saw. The mud-brick wall on top of this wall was the one that “came tumbling down!” We also experienced a very unique but brief driving rain and wind storm here as well another rainbow!
We ended the day by driving down to the southern end of the Dead Sea. Remarkably, it was even raining here. Some enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea pool at the hotel prior to dinner together.
DAY 6- SATURDAY, JANUARY 28: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH