Biblical Israel Tour Experiences for the 12 Day Israel Tour (with option to Jordan & Southern Israel)
November 3-14, 2019 (Jordan option: Nov 14-17)
GROUP DRONE VIDEO:
DAYS 1 & 2 – SUNDAY/MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3-4: DEPART U.S.A., LAND IN ISRAEL
Today we departed for Israel, the land of the Bible. God brought together 83 people for this trip form all over the world. Using a number of different airlines and routes (with a few folks being delayed), we all finally arrived safely at the Ben Gurion Airport. Here we met our guides (Shlomo and Ralph) and our drivers (David and Meshiach). We loaded our luggage on the bus and fought the Tel Aviv traffic north to Netanya. We checked in and enjoyed a great dinner together. Many enjoyed a walk on the beach following dinner.
It’s great to be here in Israel and we are all looking forward to a great trip together!
DAY 3 – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIA
Today was our first full day here in Israel. It was also enjoyed great weather, with full sun and highs in the low 80s.
After a full breakfast, we loaded the two buses and drove a short distance to Caesarea. This was a site built by Herod the Great in 22 BC (completed in 10 BC). Among the ruins we saw the palace, a replica of the Pilate Inscription, the hippodrome, the area of the harbor (that Paul used at least three times), and the Crusader walls and gates of the city. In the theater we read from Acts 9, 10, 12, and 26. Both Peter and Paul shared body their faith here. Paul spent two years here before he sailed to Rome. Before leaving the site we saw the aqueduct that brought fresh water into the city from the Carmel Range.
Leaving the Sharon Plain we ascended to the heights of the Carmel Range. After eating lunch at a Druze restaurant we visited Muhraqa, a Carmelite chapel on the highest peak of the range. We read from 1 Kings 18 about Elijah. We also referenced other passages connecting us with Carmel (Song of Songs 7, 2 Kings 4, Amos 1, Isaiah 35). While it was a bit hazy, the view of the Jezreel Valley from the roof of the chapel was impressive.
Descending off the slopes of the Carmel, we arrive at Megiddo. Located strategically on the edge of the Jezreel Valley and guarding the most direct route into the valley from the Sharon Plain, this ancient city was has about 25 occupation levels that span about 2,500 years! The ruins date from the Early Bronze/Canaanite period to Iron Age/Israelite period. Climbing the tel (“ancient mound”), we saw three different city gates, Solomon’s stables, the palace, and a grain silo from the 9th century BC. We also had a great view of the valley, along with Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), Nazareth Ridge (Luke 1,4), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). We also remembered Revelation 16 about how God has the final word when Christ returns!
Precipice of Nazareth
Our last stop of the day was to the Precipice of Nazareth. From here we gained our third and final view of the Jerzeel Valley below. We read from Luke 4 (Isaiah 61, 58:6) and John 1 about Jesus. We paused to see Jesus anew, adhering to Philip’s invitation to “come and see” Him. We also enjoyed a nice sunset.
Nof Ginnosar/Sea of Galilee
Challenged by the traffic through Nazareth and Cana, we finally arrived at our hotel for the next three nights, Nof Ginnosar. Located just north of Tiberias, the hotel was built along the shoreline of the lake. After checking in and dinner, we enjoyed a brief time together down on the water’s edge.
DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6: BETHSAIDA PLAIN, GAMLA, QATZRIN, SYRIAN BORDER, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DA
Today we traveled north to the Golan Heights. We viewed the borders with Syria and Lebanon. It was another day of connecting the dots between the sties we saw and Scripture. The weather was perfect, with sunny skies and temps around 80.
Plain of Bethsaida
We started once again shortly after 7:30 after a full breakfast. We drove to the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee where we looked westward from the western slope of the Golan Heights down the the Plain of Bethsaida. Three disciples were from this small village located on the northern side of the lake, Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1). We read from Mark 8 (healing o the blind man fro this village) and John 6 (the Feeding of the 5,000). The Demoniac story (Mark 5) happened on the east side of the lake nearby as well.
Next, we continued to the plateau of the Heights where Gamla is located. This was a Jewish city established in the 1st century BC. From high above the city, we could see the 1st century synagogue discovered here (one of only 7 or so found here in Israel that date to the time of Jesus). Even though Gamla is not mentioned directly in the Gospels, it is likely that Jesustaught here (Matthew 9). This city was destroyed by the Romans in 66 AD. We also saw a few Griffon Vultures.
The largest city of the Golan Heights is Katzrin. Here we visited an ancient village from the Talmudic Period (3rd-7th centuries AD). In a reconstructed stone house, we read from Mark 2. Even though this story took place in Capernaum, wecould see it unfold before our very eyes. Jesus displayed His s’mekah (“authority”) once again in not only healing the paralytic physically, but also forgiving his sins. We also saw the synagogue here.
Driving northeast, we made a brief stop overlooking the border with Syria. Shlomo and Ralph (our guides), shared about the 1967 and 1973 wars that took place here. We could see the town of Kuneitrain Syria! It was incredible to be able to look across the border into this war-torn country. We pray for peace in Syria!
Driving through a few Druze villages and then descending down off the Golan Heights, we arrived at Caesarea Philippi. Here we read from Matthew 16. In the region of this pagan city Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say I am?” We also saw the ruins of the grotto area that once included a Temple of Augustus, Zeus (Jupiter), Pan, and Nemesis.
Nature Preserve and Site of Tel Dan
Close by is the nature preserve and archaeological site of Tel Dan. We started out the visit by walking along the river that is fed by the spring of Dan. After enjoying a time of song (Shlomo played his recorder) and singing (Psalm 42), we sat on the steps of the high place of Dan built by Jeroboam. We read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the patterns of disobedience displayed here until the fall of this city to the Assyrians in 722 BC. We also saw a mud-brick gate that dates to the Middle Bronze period. Perhaps this was a gate used by Abraham (Gen. 14:14)?
Misgav Am/Lebanon Border
We returned south towards our hotel but not before ascending the hills of Naphtali for a view across the border with Lebanon. Here at the Misgav Am kibbutz Shlomo shared about the recent past and current history with Lebanon. From here we returned back to our hotel through the Huleh Valley for dinner and a free evening.
DAY 5 – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7: ARBEL, JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDE
Today was a day of focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus. We spent the entire day around and actually on the Sea of Galilee. Once again, we enjoyed sunny skies with temps around 90.
After breakfast we drove to the trail-head of Mt. Arbel. We read Matthew 13 on the way. About 25 in the group hiked to the top while others bussed around through Tiberias and approached the top from the west. The view of the lake below was incredible! We could picture Jesus taking His disciples here or even meeting them here after the resurrection (Mt. 28:16?).
From here we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River. About 40 in the group renewed in baptism their faith and commitment to be followers of Jesus in the river. It was a special time. Jesus Himself was baptized in this river, but further south (John 1, Bethany Beyond the Jordan).
A short distance away is the Kinneret Cemetery. This was a cemetery used by some of the early Jewish pioneers to the land in the early 20th century. Shlomo shared about life in the kibbutz and also read and played some of the poems written by Rachel Bluwstein who died in 1931. This Ukrainian Jew was 41 when she died. He picture is on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!
After a wonderful St. Peter’s Fish lunch we visited Magdala. This was the home of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus exorcized seven demons (Luke 8:2). This was a prominent fishing city along the western coastline of the lake. This was also the harbor where Jesus sails into after the Feeding of the 4,000 story (Matthew 15:39). We saw a 1st century synagogue here. Jesus no doubt taught from this modest structure that held only 50-60 at most! We also saw a few miqvot (miqveh, singular) – ritual baths.
Driving to the NW corner of the lake our next visit was to Capernaum. This was another harbor city. Jesus used Capernaum as His “home-base” for his Galilean ministry!We saw the 5th century synagogue built no doubt over the 1st one. We also saw the Byzantine octagonal chapel built over what is believed by some as the house of Peter (probably not though). We read from Mark 1,2,9; Luke 7; and John 6… all events that took place here. Jesus displayed s’mekah (authority) here in his healing, teaching, and forgiveness He shared. He also probably called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew (Levi) here to be His talmidim (a deeper Jewish term for “disciples”).
Mt. of Beatitudes
Above Capernaum on the hill is the traditional Mt. of Beatitudes. While this tradition location only goes back to the late 1930s, this location does include a natural amphitheater where many could have heard Jesus preach His Sermon on the Mount. We read the first part of Matthew 5 and considered Jesus’ kingdom principles here! We are to prioritize “seeking the kingdom (Mt. 6:33)!”
Our last experience of the day was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We also enjoyed a time of worship, reflection, and a nice sunset. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two narratives when Jesus calmed the storms. It was a great way to end the day.
We returned to our hotel rooms to freshen up for dinner. We then enjoyed an optional gathering by the water’s edge to review the tour so far and to share together.
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.
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
We spent all of today in the Judean Desert along the Dead Sea. Each site was unique and interesting. Each site also connected us to the Bible. The sun was bright, with our warmest day of the trip so far (highs in the 90s).
While some enjoy floating in the Dead Sea last night, others ventured out for a “sunrise float” this morning before breakfast. It’s a wild sensation to be able to float effortlessly in this water that is 33% salt and minerals. Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14 tell us that one day water will flow from Jerusalem and make this salty water fresh!
Following breakfast, we loaded the bus and drove to Masada. We read from Psalm 18:1-2 on the way, celebrating God as our “meztada” – our fortress! We arrived at this palace-fortress build by Herod the Greatat about 8 a.m. We immediately took the cable car to the top, some 1,000 feet above. We saw cisterns, palaces, the Roman ramp (on the west side), casemate walls, and the synagogue. Masada is best known for being the site where 967 Jews found refuge for almost three years (70—73 AD) from the Romans. All by five freely took their own lives before the Romans infiltrated the fortress. At the end of out visit, some in the group hiked down the Snake Path whiles others returned to the bottom by way of cable car.
From here we drove about 20 minutes northward along the western coastline of the Dead Sea. Engediis an oasis in the middle of this part of the Judean Desert. Water flows from springs all year around here. We walked together into the canyon (“Wadi David”) where we read from Songs of Songs 1, 2 Chronicles 20, and 1 Samuel 24. This last story places David hiding in cave from the the pursuit of Saul. We walked up to some of the water falls before returning back to the visitor center.
Continuing northward, Qumran was our next site to visit. After lunch here (although some hiked to the cliff area during lunch), we visited this most important site in all of Israel. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found here in 1947. Excavations were done between 1952-56 with about 900 fragments of texts found here in 11 caves. Just recently, a 12th cave was found. We walked through the ruins together. Overlooking Cave 4, we read from “Psalm 151” (written by David) as well as Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3:16. We praised God for the perseverance of God’s Word here.
En route to Jerusalem, we ended the day with a brief stop at Wadi Qelt. Here we hear the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23 in the context of the Judean Desert. We then drove the rest of the way to Jerusalem. Each bus checked into their own hotels here. Following dinner many in the group enjoyed an optional walk to the Western Wall. We are looking forward to spending the rest of the Israel portion of the tour here in Jerusalem!
DAY 8 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10: MT. OF OLIVES, GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, POOL OF BETHESDA, HOLY SEPULCHER CHURH, ISRAEL MUSEUM, BETHLEHEM
Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. We connected with the Bible in amazing ways once again in this ancient and current capital city of Israel. The weather was perfect, with highs in the high 70s.
Mt. of Olives
We left the hotel the morning at 7:30. We read from Psalm 125 as we began the day. We drove around the north side of the Old City of Jerusalem (2.8 miles in circumference, with walls built in 1537-44 AD by the Ottoman Turks) before ascending to the top of the Mt of Olives. Here we had a first full view of the Temple Mount and the entire Old City. It was an incredible perspective! Walking down to a small chapel called Dominus Flavet, we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about Jesus’ kingship. When we returns again, His feet will stand on this mountain and it will split into two!Further down the slope we paused to consider Jesus’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas. Here, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but yours be done!”
Old City of Jerusalem
Next, we walked into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called the Lion’s and Jericho Gate). Before we entered, we got a close-up view of the Eastern/Golden Gate. Proceeding to St. Anne’s Church just inside the gate of the city we enjoyed singing a few songs. The church has about a 8 second echo!We sounded like an angelic choir! Also on the grounds of the church are the Pools of Bethesda. Here the paralyzed man was healed by Jesus (John 5).
From here we walked the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The crowds of people made it difficult to see this church built originally in 325 AD. Archaeologically, this area of the church is the most likely place for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus.
Following lunch in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, we walked out of Jaffa Gate and met our buses. We drove to the Israel Museum where we saw three things: a 1:50 scale model of 2nd Temple Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book (where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed) and highlights that connected us with the Bible within the archaeological wing of the museum. Here we saw many artifacts among which included the Dan and Pilate inscriptions, Canaanite weaponry, figurines, restored pottery vessels, ossuaries, and much more.
Our last stop of the day was Bethlehem. Our first stop here was to the Shepherds’ Fields (actually in Beit Sahour outside of Bethlehem). We enjoyed reading Luke 2 and singing a few Christmas carols together in celebration of God’s redemptive plan fulfilled in Jesus. We also drove into Bethlehem to an olive wood shop and store.
After some shopping, we drove back to our two hotels for dinner. Some ventured out to Ben Yehuda Street for a title taste of modern Israeli life and some more shopping.It was a great first full day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 9 – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11: WESTERN WALL & TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, HERODIAN HOUSE, SHORASHIM, RAMPART WALK, YAD VASHEM
Today was our second full day here in Jerusalem. Enjoying perfect weather again (sun and 70s), we connected to both biblical and modern history.
Our first stop following breakfast was the Western Wall. This wall served as one of the four retaining walls that Herod the Great used in 20 BC to expand the Temple platform. This wall is a wall seen by Jesus and His disciples!We entered the Western Wall Tunnels and walked parallel to this wall. Some of the stones weighted 100s of tons! How they were placed with such precision is remarkable!No wonder the disciples commented, “What massive stones” as they leaving the Temple from the southern end.We also enjoyed walking down to the Wall ourselves. Many ultra Orthodox men and women were there for their morning prayers.
From the Western Wall (the Kotelin Hebrew) we walked up to the heart of the Jewish Quarter. We entered the Herodian Mansion to see amazing ruins from 2,000 years ago. This multi-level house was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Some suggest that a house like this could have been the dwelling of a important Jewish leader or even high priest (e.g. Caiaphas) in the days of Jesus!We also gathered here to listen to Moshe, an Orthodox Jew,share with us. He shared about His Jewish faith and perspectives. It was both very interesting and enlightening!
Rampart Walk/Free TIme
The next 1.5 hours was free time. 33 in the group enjoyed walking on a small section of the Rampart Wallfrom Jaffa Gate to Zion’s Gate. This wall was built by the Turk Suleiman the Great in 1537-44. Walking on this wall gave us a unique perspective of the Old City below. Others explored the Old City on their own. We all also grabbed a bite to eat for lunch.
We walked from the Jewish Quarter out of the Zion’s Gate where the two buses picked us up. We drove to Yad Vashem (a “place/memorial and a name” from Isaiah 56:5), Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum. Both our guides shared their own personal stories that were both touching and moving. Like many Israelis today, they both lost family members at the hands of the Nazi Germans during WWII (only Shlomo’s family is pictured below). At Yad Vashem we walked through the Children’s Memorial, and Valley of the Communities, and the Avenue of the Gentiles. There were 10,000 Gentiles who helped or aided in some way Jews all over Europe! Trees are planted in their memory, including trees dedicated to Cori ten Boom and Oscar Schindler. On our own we walked through the museum as well.
We drove back to our hotels from here and enjoyed dinner and a free evening or rest and relaxation.
DAY 10 – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12: THE “SHEPHELAH” – LOWLANDS OF JUDAH: GEZER, BETH SHEMESH, SOCOH, LACHISH, LIBNAH, JERUSALEM
Today we headed west from Jerusalem to the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. The sun would greet us again, with temps around 80. We have been enjoying perfect weather so far!
We left our hotels shortly after 7:30 again, driving westward out of Jerusalem. We arrived at Tel Gezer, a Canaanite and Israelite city mentioned in the Bible. Gezer is located along the Aijalon Valley. We read from Ecclesiastes 3 that matches well with the Gezer Calendar that was found here about 100 yeas ago that mention the agricultural seasons of ancient Israel in the 10th century BC. We also read from Joshua 10 as Joshua chased the 5 Canaanite kings through this valley while the “sun stood still.” At the site we saw Canaanite fortification towers walls, and gates, the water system, and the Israelite ruins. This included a 6-chambered gate built by Solomon (1 Kings 9. The city was given to his wife, most likely Pharoah Siamun’s daughter). Leaving the site we saw the standing stones of Gezer.
Located along the Sorek Valley, Beth Shemesh was the next site to visit. Near by on the other site of the valley was the city of Zorah where Samson was from. Further west down the valley is where his Philistine wives were from (the second one being Delilah, Judges 13-16). We also read from 1 Samuel 6. The Ark of the Covenant was returned here from Ekron by the Philistines. After visiting the site, we ate lunch at the modern Beth Shemesh mall.
Socoh was our next stop. This is an un-excavated site located along the Elah Valley. It is also mentioned in 1 Samuel 17. The Philistines took a position here (and between Azekah). We read from this 17th chapter about how David from Bethlehem defeated Goliath (from Gath to the west) in the “narrow part” of the valley somewhere below. We were challenged to face our spiritual battles with the same confidence!
Because Beit Guvrin was closed today, we drove to Lachish. We climbed the site that was once a Canaanite city destroyed by Joshua in 2 days (Joshua 10). Later, this double-walled Israelite city was attacked by the Assyrians (Isaiah 37, 2 Kings 19), and 115 years later or so destroyed by the Babylonians. In front of the gate where Lachish Letter #4 was found in 1935, we read from Jeremiah 34:7 (Lachish and Azekah were the two last-standing cities of Judah!). We saw the broad fortification walls, the chambered gate, and the palace most likely most likely connected with Rehoboam and other Judean kings to follow.
As the sun was setting, we snuck in an extra site – Libnah. We walked about 15 minutes through a field to get to the top of Tel Burna. Here we saw some fortification walls the gate, and other structures in the area where Dr. John dug this past summer. Libnah is mentioned in Joshua 10:29 The city was taken by Joshua. Later, the city was one of the Levitical towns in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 21:13). The city also revolted against the Judean king Jehoram (2 Car. 21:8-10). Eventually, the city was destroyed by the Assyrians (Isaiah 37:8) at the end of the 8th century BC.
We drove back to Jerusalem in the dark for dinner and an optional walk.
DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 13: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SILOAM POOL, DRAINAGE CHANNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, A FEW FREE HOURS, GARDEN TOMB
Today was our last day in Jerusalem. It was a day of adventure, walking through water (for some), and worship & communion. The sun was again high in the sky, with temps in the 70s.
City of David
After breakfast we boarded the bus and headed to the City of David excavations. We read from 2 Chronicles 32 on the way. Upon arrival we watched a 3-D movie about Jerusalem. We also stood on the observation deck and overlooked the area, connecting with biblical history (both OT and NT) related to this city.
Walking down through the ruins, we first visited the “Area G” excavations. Dr. John excavated here in 1982 and gave us a description of what was discovered. David’s palace was discovered above this area. The two main biblical storiesshared were 2 Samuel 5 (David conquering the Jebusite city) and 2 Kings 19-20 & Chronicles 32 (Hezekiah’s amazing water tunnel project).
Further below this area, we walked down through Warren’s Shaft. The original theory was that this was the “water shaft” through which David’s men conquered the city. It was most likely in the newly excavated area of the Gihon Spring where this infiltration of the city took place.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel – Canaanite Tunnel – Siloam Pool
The next adventure included walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This was a 1,720 foot water tunnel completed in 701 BC (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, Is. 8:6) Many in the group walked through water to the end while others took the dry and older Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read from John 9 in dramatic fashion!
South Wall Excavations
From here some in the group walked north through the Herodian drainage channel (that runs under the stone pavement above us) while others bussed up to the South Wall excavations. Here we saw the SW corner of the Temple Mount, massive stones toppled by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Herodian pavement itself. On the southern side of the Temple Mount we sat on the actual steps of the Temple that Jesus and His disciples would have used. We considered everyone who would have used these steps. Today we are the temple of God as God’s Spirit lives within us!
After 2 hours of free time, we walked out of the Old City through the Damascus Gate to get to the Garden Tomb. This is an alternative site for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. We enjoyed a tour of the premises before our worship and communion service. It was a great way to end the Israel portion of the trip!
We returned to our hotels for our farewell dinner. Some in the group leave tonight while others are staying on their own an extra day or two. 58 of us cross into Jordan tomorrow morning.
DAY 12 – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14: CROSSING INTO JORDAN – MT. NEBO, MACHAERUS, PETRA (or ARRIVAL BACK HOME)
On another sunny and warm day (70s), 58 in the group would cross into Jordan. Others in the group arrived back home after their night flight home.
Allenby Bridge Crossing
We checked out of our hotels today in Jerusalem. We drove to the Allenby Bridge border where we crossed into Jordan. The procedure went fairly smoothly. On the Jordanian side we were greeted by our guides (Sammy & Awad). They took care of our passports & visas for us while we waited at the crossing. Once this was finalized, we began our tour of this Hashemite Kingdom.
From the Jordanian border we drove and ascended to the top of Mt. Nebo. This was where Moses died, but not before handing the leadership baton to Joshua. While Moses did not cross into the land here, perhaps he did in Jesus’ day (Mt. 17). We read from Dt. 31-34 and Joshua 1 (we also referenced Numbers 21 and John 3 about the Bronze Snake as well as Hebrews 11). While the view looking westward wasn’t perfect from here, we still could see the area of Jericho and the Dead Sea. The eventual crossing by Joshua (Josh. 3-4) and the Israelites took place a little north. Jericho would be the first Canaanite city taken!
Following a brief stop at a mosaic factory, we drove southeast to Machaerus. This was where Herod Antipas cut off the head of John the Baptist (Mt. 14). Many in the group hiked to the top of this palace-fortress, one of several built my Herod the Great. The site was first established by Janneaus in 90 BC. The Romans would take over the city in 72 AD. On top we saw the palace area, a few ritual baths (miqveh), and a few pillars. Because of the haze in the sky, we unfortunately could not see the Dead Sea and the area of Engedi on the others side.
Drive to Petra
The drive to Petra took a total of about 3:30 hours. Traveling on the Desert Highway as well as the King’s Highway (Numbers 21), we stopped once for restrooms and snacks for tomorrow. About 7:45 p.m. we arrived at our hotel in Wadi Musa (Petra). After a great dinner, we retired early for the evening. We are all looking forward to seeing the ancient site of Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world! Some plan to rise early for a 6:30 a.m. departure tomorrow while others will start the day at 8 a.m. Should be a fantastic day!
DAY 13 – FRIDAY NOVEMBER 15: PETRA, WADI RU
Today was filled with scenic views and spectacular colors. Between the sunny blue skies (with a cool start but with highs in the 70s), the red sandstone, and the orange sunset at the end of the day, we were in awe of the beauty of God’s creation.
After a quick but hearty breakfast, some in the group left the hotel at shortly after 6:30 a.m. and entered the site of Petra. Others enjoyed breakfast at 7 and began at 8 a.m. We all thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular scenery and tombs/ruins of this ancient Nabaetean city! This red-rose ancient city is deemed one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Located in the heart of the Seir Mountains, the land of the Edomites.
We all entered the site through the Siq (canyon). This is the main entrance to Petra that brought us to the first monument, “The Treasury” (“Al-Khazneh”). This well-preserved monumental tomb appeared in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” It was the tomb of the Nabatean King named Aretas (Paul mentions him in 2 Cor. 11:32). His daughter (or granddaughter – depending on dating) was the former wife of Herod Antipas, see Matthew 14).
From the Treasury we now began our walk into the city. Besides passing by many of the Nabatean tombs, we walked by a 3,000-seat theater carved into the sandstone, one of the largest theaters in Jordan. From here, many in the early group walked to the Monastery Tomb at the far west side of Petra, while others explored on their own (e.g. the Royal Tombs). The Aravah and Negev of Israel could barely be seen in the haze to the west. Seven in the group also hiked to the High Place far above the site. We all walked back to the visitor center for a long-waited cold drink and a bite to eat! After loading the bus, we left around 1 p.m. for Wadi Rum. Leaving Wadi Musa, we made one last stop for a panoramic view of Petra below
It took us about 2 hours to drive south to Wadi Rum. Here we enjoyed an amazing jeep ride in the desert. It was really fun. We stopped at a few places to take in the beauty of this desert. The sunset was also incredible. We jeeped right to our place for the night in the desert, Captain’s, a Bedouin Village. We enjoy dinner together (cooked underground!) and a brief campfire under the stars. The almost full moon also rose to our delight. We all then retired to our individual tents for the night! Tomorrow we cross back into Israel.
DAY 14 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, MACHTESH RAMON, TEL AVIV, NIGHT FLIGHT HOME
We re-crossed back into Israel today. For our last full day here in Israel, it was once again a partly sunny and warm day, with highs in the 80s in the south. We had clouds and a few sprinkles towards the end of the day, the first time all trip!
Rabin Border Crossing / Red Sea
It was about 6 a.m. when our “wake up call” (e.g. Sammy) stirred us out of our individual tents. It was certainly a unique stay here in Wadi Rum. Following breakfast and loading the buses, we drove just shy of an hour to the Rabin Border Crossing. Here we said goodbye to our Jordanian guides who assisted us through the Jordan portion of the crossing. We then walked across to the Israeli side where we went through security and passport checks. It took a bit longer than usual today. Once complete the process we were greeted by Shlomo and Ralph, David, and Meshiach. We drove to the Coral Beach national park where some enjoyed some time swimming in the Red Sea. Others enjoyed the beach and beautiful views of the clear water and coral.
Timnah / Tabernacle Model
Next, we drove north to Timnah Park. This was once an Egyptian copper mind back in the 13-12th centuries BC. Towards the back of the park we visited a full-scale model of the Tabernacle. We walked through together, guided by a Messianic believer. We recalled what the author of Hebrews said about Christ fulfilling the role of High Priest through His once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 9).
Following grabbing a bite to eat and some ice cream at Yovata (a dairy-kibbutz just north of Timnah), we drove up through the Southern Negev and the Desert of Paran to Machtesh Ramon. This is Israel’s “grand canyon” featuring a unique geological crater and formations. As the sun set, we enjoyed a great view from the rim.
Continuing north through the Zin Desert (Numbers 13, 20), the western Shephelah and Coastal Plain, we enjoyed a farewell dinner in Jaffa. We then drove to the Ben Gurion Airport for our night flights for the majority of the group. Others in the group arranged their own flights home. We plan to arrive back home in the States Sunday.
DAY 15 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17: ARRIVE HOME
Today most in the group arrived back in the U.S.! Others are spending a dew or two extra in Israel. It was a great trip with an incredible group, life changing in many ways! Praise be to God for His goodness. We also continue to pray for Bob who fell in Jerusalem. May he full recover and be able to come him soon! God’s blessings upon you, brother Bob!
Hike Up Arbel
One of our optional hikes is to the top of Mt. Arbel. Located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee, the hike offers a wonderful view of the region. We ascend 800 feet to the top (for those not inclined to hike the bus takes people to the top from the other side).
The cliffs of Arbel has historical significance too. Jews during both the 1st century BC and later in 66 AD found refuge in these caves.