Day 1 & 2 – Sunday-Monday, August 6-7: Depart U.S, Flight & Arrival in Israel
Our trip began today! Various flights were used for the 24 of us to fly to the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Some arrived early, while half the group arrived late to a 4-hour flight delay out of Newark. However, we all arrived safely, with luggage in hand too (which is a blessing in today’s travel world). Eventually by 10 p.m the Newark group arrived at the first night’s hotel in Netanya. We all are anticipating our first full here in Israel tomorrow.
Day 3 – Tuesday, August 8: Caesarea, Megiddo, Beth Shean, Precipice of Nazareth, Tiberias
Today was our first full day here in Israel. We are all excited to engage with the Bible and the primary land where biblical events took place. The day’s weather was very warm and with full sun (to be expected in August). After a wonderful full breakfast, we loaded the bus and left about 7:30. We read Psalm 100 as we drove north to our first site. We also learned the song, “Oh, the Sun’s Coming Up.” 🙂 Everyone was thrilled to meet Mary, our “hiker” using “Rosie,” BIMT’s new one-wheel device purchased this spring. Thanks to Pastor Kevin and his team to joining us (again) for another Israel trip!
We drove north in the Sharon Plain to get to our first site, Caesarea Maritima. It was a city built between 22-10 BC by Herod the Great.We started the the theater where we read portions of Acts 10, 12, 21, and 26. Peter, Phillip, and Paul were all here sharing their faith in Christ. Among the ruins the praetorium (palace, where we saw a replica of the Pilate Inscription found in 1961 in secondary use), hippodrome, and the area of the harbor. We then entered the Crusader part of the city. We ascended to the top for a great view of the harbor below. Before leaving the site, we also saw the aqueduct that brought fresh water into Caesarea from the Carmel Range.
“The August Isreal trip is now in full swing. We all arrived safely (all 24 of us) to Israel. We just enjoyed our first full day here in the land of the Bible, with many biblical connections along the way. We now have arrived at our hotel in Tiberias.”
Leaving Caesarea, we drove through the Carmel Range (or Mt. Carmel), using the Jokneam Pass. This range separates the Sharon Plain with the Jezreel Valley. We descended to the edge of the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, an archaeological site that has about 25 levels of occupation that span 2,500 years! After seeing a model of the tel (ancient mound), we walked to the top of this Canaanite/Israelite site. We saw two Canaanite gate complexes, the gate, stables and palace area of Solomon (1 Kings 9:15), a sacrificial altar (Canaanite), and a grain silo. The also enjoyed a great view of the surrounding hills from here and the valley itself (Revelation 16:16). We left the site through the impressive water system that was designed and engineered to safely bring water into the city. Mary and “Rosie” even made it down into the water system! Remarkable.
Next, we drove east through the Harod Valley (and eastern extension of the Jezreel Valley) to Beth Shean, the only city of the Decapolis on the west side of the Jordan. We passed by Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Shunem (2 Kings 4), and the site of Jezreel (1 Kings 18, 21; 2 Kings 8-9), on our drive east. Beth Shean is a massive archaeological site, primarily Roman. Following a quick lunch in modern Beth Shan, we entered the site from the back gate. We walked to the top of the OT site that provided a great view of the Jordan Valley to the east and the Roman city below us to the west. We walked down 190 steps to see the Roman bathhouse, the colonnaded street, and the impressive theater.
Precipice of Nazareth
We drove back into the Jezreel Valley to get to the area of Nazareth. We ascended towards the top of the Precipice. A short walk took us to a panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley. We enjoyed a beautiful breeze from here. We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ synagogue teaching. While Nathaniel asked, “What good can come out of Nazareth?” It was Philip who replied, “Come and see!” (John 1). We celebrated Jesus as Messiah!
Sea of Galilee
It took about an hour (past Cana, John 2 and 4) to arrive at our hotel in northern Tiberias (Ron Beach) along the western coastline of the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed dinner here followed by free evening.