THURSDAY, JANUARY 4
ARRIVAL DAY IN ISRAEL
See the Arrival and Departure link for additional information. Overnight: Tel Aviv (D)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5
THE LAND OF PROMISE
Our study begins with an examination of Old Testament sites in the south. We travel in the arid region known as the Negev where we visit the two main cities, Beersheba and Arad. In this demanding landscape God tested the faith of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here also, Moses attempted an ill-fated and ill-advised premature "conquest" of the promised land. David lived in this region during his "friendship" with Philistine kings. The second half of the day we travel into the geographical regions known as the Shephelah. Located between the Coastal Plain and the Judean Hill Country, these foothills served as an important "buffer-zone" between the Judeans in the hills and the Philistines on the coast. Within the Shephelah we will visit Mareshah, home of the prophet Micah and the general locale of David's battle with Goliath in the Elah Valley. We conclude our day in the region of Beth Shemesh, near Samson's home and exploits, finishing our day at the recent, impressive excavations at Tel Gezer. Overnight: Netanya (B,D)
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6
GALILEE OF THE GENTILES
Today we look at the theme of cultural and political conflict between Israel and foreigners in the land. At Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea, we give thought to the beginning stages of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD. The conversion of Cornelius at this city will illustrate how God changed hearts and minds in the midst of political, religious and cultural tensions. At Megiddo we examine the Israelite conflicts with the Canaanites in this region. Arriving at Sepphoris, the capital of Roman Galilee at the time of Jesus' birth and a city where Jews and Gentiles lived together, we explore impressive excavations and Jesus' ministry in this area. Only five miles away, we conclude today's activities in the childhood home of Jesus -- Nazareth. Overnight: Sea of Galilee (B,D)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 7
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM?
Today we examine two themes. At the Old Testament sites of Hazor and at Dan we explore the vital need to capture, fortify and hold strategic military centers in the north. These cities were of vital importance to ancient Israel if it was to maintain its unity and security in its northern territories. After lunch we shift our thoughts to the various messianic expectations in the first century and how they penetrate into the language of Jesus and the Early Church. At Caesarea Philippi, on the lower slopes of Mount Hermon, we consider the event of the Transfiguration from which Jesus set his face for Jerusalem. In view of the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the dynamics of the modern political situation are briefly addressed.
Overnight: Sea of Galilee (B,D)
MONDAY, JANUARY 8
SEA OF GALILEE
A full morning study includes sites and themes central to the ministry of Jesus. At Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum we consider the second stage of Jesus' ministry with attention given to his teachings within their contemporary context. In the afternoon we visit Magdala to view a 1st century AD synagogue as we continue to discuss Jesus' teaching ministry around the lake. We continue to Kibbutz Ginosar where an ancient Sea of Galilee boat (dating to the 1st century AD) was discovered and now on display. We conclude our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Overnight: Sea of Galilee (B,D)
TUESDAY, JANUARY 9
CHILDREN OF THE WILDERNESS
Today, we follow in the steps of individuals and communities who lived near the Dead Sea and in the Judean Wilderness areas. Khirbet Qumran provides the setting for our consideration of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relationship to John the Baptist and early Christianity. At Masada we consider the fate of the Zealot movement (First Jewish Revolt 66-73 AD) which ended at Masada in the spring of 73 AD. Fortified and embellished by Herod the Great, the site abounds with points of interest including the Western Palace, Roman Ramp, Synagogue, Herod’s three-tiered Northern Palace and the storerooms. At the oasis of Ein Gedi we walk in to observe a "river in the desert" in the region where David hid from King Saul. A stop at the Dead Sea will provide you an opportunity to float in this unique body of water. We end our day traveling through the Wilderness of Judea en route to Jerusalem. Overnight: Jerusalem (B,D)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10
Today begins with a visit to the Temple Mount, a site of historical significance and political dispute. Upon leaving the Temple Mount we will venture through the various Quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem as an orientation to local sites of historical interest and local free time activities. The remainder of the day is free time for you to enjoy the character of Jerusalem's Old City.
Overnight: Jerusalem (B,D)
THURSDAY, JANUARY 11
JERUSALEM: CITY OF THE GREAT KING
Our focus today is the physical setting of Jerusalem from the time of King David to Jesus. We enter the Old City to examine the physical setting of Jerusalem nestled among the hills and valleys of Judah. We now turn our attention to the historical rule of Herod the Great (ending in 4BC), his successors and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Key archaeological sites to be visited in the Jewish Quarter include the Wohl Museum, the Herodian Villas, the Western Wall and the Southern wall. After lunch we will visit the City of David of Old Testament times. Here we will have an opportunity to see remnants of Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians (586 BC). We conclude the day with a visit to the Pool of Siloam (John 9). Overnight: Jerusalem (B,D)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12
BETHLEHEM and JERUSALEM:
THE BEGINNING AND THE END
Our settings today involve the historical backgrounds associated with Birth Narratives and the Passion Narratives. In the morning we focus on the rule and personality of Herod the Great in conjunction with Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. We begin at the Herodium, a palace-fortress built by Herod. We shift our attention to Bethlehem and after lunch we return to Jerusalem. Here, we pay particular attention to the historical background regarding the opposition to Jesus and the events which led to his crucifixion. In connection with this theme we begin our touring atop the Mount of Olives. We descend the mount to the Garden of Gethsemane. We continue into the Old City to visit St. Anne's church, the site of the ancient pools of Bethesda. We conclude at the Church of the Resurrection, the possible site of Jesus' death and resurrection. Overnight: Jerusalem (B,D)
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13
Today is a free day for you to do as you please. You are welcome to visit other venues throughout the city and continue your exploration of the Old City. Overnight Jerusalem, (B,D)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14
We take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity to spend a full day in the region of Samaria. We begin at Shiloh where the Tent of Meeting and Ark of the Covenant were first stationed. We continue to Mount Gerizim where we see the important archaeological remains on the top of this location so important to Samaritan faith. At Tel Balata we see the ancient fortifications of Shechem and nearby Jacob’s Well. Finally, we travel to the hilltop city of Samaria, which was transformed and renamed by Herod the Great, Sebaste after his benefactor Caesar Augustus. (B,D)
Late evening departure from Israel.