DAY 6 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8: BETH SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, JUDEAN DESERT, JERICHO
Today we left the Sea of Galilee area and drove south. Our final destination was the southern end of the Dead Sea. It was another sunny day with highs in the 80s.
We started our day with reading the words of Jesus from Matthew 6 and 7 as we drove about 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. We arrived at Beth Shean at opening time. This city was a massive Roman city excavated in the 1980s and 90s. Prior to this period, Beth Shean was a Canaanite city. The bodies of Saul and his three sons were hung on its walls (1 Samuel 31). At the site we saw the impressive bath house, colonnaded streets, the agora/forum, many mosaics, the public latrenes, and the best-preserved theater in Israel. Many in the group also climbed to the top of the OT tel for a great view of the Roman city below.
“All the sites we visited today once again connected me to the Bible. Seeing these stories come alive for me at each site was once again incredible. The trip has been life-changing so far!” -Tour Member-
From here we drove uniquely on a road that took us through the Samaritan Hill Country. This route took us through more isolated areas. When we arrived at Shiloh, we climbed to the top of the site to watch a video. The Tabernacle was located here for 305 years until it was destroyed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). Overlooking the ruins recently excavated, we read from 1 Samuel 3 (Samuel & Eli), and Jeremiah 7. When God speaks to us, we were encouraged to respond like young Samuel, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Next, we drove past or near Bethel (Genesis 12, 28), Ai (Joshua 7-8) and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) on our way to south from Shiloh. Turning eastward, we drove through the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13) to finally reach Jericho. After eating lunch here, we climbed to the top of the site. Looking eastward towards the Jordan Valley, we remembered Moses (who died on Mt. Nebo, Dt. 34), and the crossing into the Promise Land (Joshua 3-4). Elijah also ascended into heaven here (2 Kings 2). Jesus was also baptized in this area (John 1). Jesus was also tempted in the Judean Desert for 40 days. We saw the oldest structure in Israel before seeing the double stone walls at the southern end. These stone walls supported a mud brick wall, and it was this was that came tumblin’ down (Joshua 6). We celebrated the accuracy of Scripture.
Dead Sea Hotel
At dusk, we drove further south to our hotel in Ein Bokek, located along the Dead Sea. We checked in and then enjoyed dinner together. Some also enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea. Others will wait until tomorrow morning to encounter this unique experience as the sun rises over the Moabite mountains!
DAY 7 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM