DAY 7– MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, MEGIDDO, MT. CARMEL, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM
Today we were greeted by a wonderful sunrise and partly sunny skies. The high temps in the afternoon were in the high 80s. Jerusalem was cooler when we arrived at the day’s end.
After breakfast and loading the bus, we left the Sea of Galilee and drove to the Lower Galilee to see two sites. Sepporis, the largest Jewish city in the days of Jesus and only 4-5 miles from Nazareth, was our first site. After arriving here and seeing a model of the city, we walked on the Roman pavement to see a few mosaics. We then walked to the top of the site to see a more incredible mosaic called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. No doubt Jesus visited this site, especially in his younger years.
Precipice of Nazareth
Close by, we battled the morning traffic to get to the Precipice of Nazareth. From here we enjoyed our first view of the Jezreel Valley. We could see Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). We read from Luke 4 about Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue. We also read from John 1 and listened to a song as we were inspired by Philip’s invitation to “come and see” Jesus anew!
“Today we left the Sea of Galilee area. Sort of sad. However, the day was filled with more great sites and experiences. I especially enjoyed the time we spent on the Precipice of Nazareth.” -Tour Member-
Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we visited the Old Testament site of Megiddo. This site has about 25 layers of occupation/stratigraphy that span about 2,500 years of history. Climbing the site, we saw a series of fortification gates (two Canaanite and one built by Solomon, 1 Kings 9), walls, a storage house, a horse stables, a palace, and a grain bin. We exited the site by walking down through the massive water system.
From here we ascended Mt. Carmel for our last view of the Jezreel Valley from a place called Muhrakah (“burnt offering”). Here we read from 1 Kings 18 about Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal and Asherah. We also read from or referred to 2 Kings 4, Songs of Songs 7, Isaiah 33 & 35, all mentioning Carmel. We then viewed the Jezreel Valley from the roof of the chapel.
Our last site to visit was Caesarea Maritima. Located on the Mediterranean Sea and built by Herod the Great in 22 BC, this harbor city was quite impressive to see. Sitting in the reconstructed theater, we read from Acts 9, 10, 12, and 26. Peter, Paul, and Philip were all here and shared their faith boldly. Herod Agrippa (who reigned from 41-44 AD) died here. Among the other ruins we saw the palace (with a fresh-water swimming pool), the hippodrome (for horses), mosaics, and the area of the harbor (used by Paul several times). Before leaving the site we saw a tall marble statue and the aqueduct that brought water into the city from the Carmel Range 5-6 miles away.
Following a 2 hour drive, we arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem. Following check-in and dinner, many in the group walked to the famous Western Wall. We all are looking forward to the next number of days here in the ancient and modern capital of Israel!