Day 1 – Arrival, Malchizedek Style
Welcome to Israel! Upon arriving and meeting the guide you will drive up to Mount of Olives to be introduced to Jerusalem, and be offered bread and wine as Abraham was greeted by Malchizedek, the Canaanite king of Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18).
Day 2 – “From Shepherd to King”
Our first day of travel will begin in the contested land between the Philistine and the early Israelites – the Shefelah. At Beth Shemesh we will visit the possible site where the Ark was kept after its return from the Philistines (I Sam. 6:18-21), and at the Ellah Valley we will review the Battle site of David and Goliath (I Sam. 17).
We will then continue to the possible site of Ziklag , where David lamented on Saul’s death (II Sam. 1:17-27) and have lunch nearby. After lunch we will visit the “Philistine Street” near ancient Ekron, and review the material culture of the ancient Philistines.
Day 3 – “from King to Messiah”
Focusing on the origins of Biblical Jerusalem we head today to the City of David and review the main archaeological discoveried at the site: the possible remains of King David’s Palace (II. Sam. 5:11) , the “Warren’s” shaft leading to the Gihon Spring , where King Solomon was annointed (I. Sam. 3:38-39), and then a walk along Hezekiah’s Tunnel (II. Kings 20:20) to the Pool of Siloam , where Jesus cured a blind man (John 9:1-7).
After a lunch break we continue to a visit of the Western wall and then walk along parts of the “Stations of the Cross” ( Via Dolorosa ) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre , which marks by Christian tradition the place where Jesus was crucified (Golgotha ), and the Tomb of Jesus .
If time and will permits we will also visit the site of the “Last Supper” – Cenacle .
Day 4 – In the footsteps of John the Baptist
A day devoted to the Judean Desert will start with a visit to the Baptism site (qasr el-Yahud) , where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist (Mat. 3). Nearby we visit Qumran , a mysterious site related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and John the Baptist.
We then continue to Masada , a site known for the tragic end of the Jewish rebelleion in the first century, and a significant symbol of the Zionist movement (“Masada will not fall again”). We end the day with a swim at the Dead Sea .
Day 5 – “From Law to Grace“
Heading north for a few days, we first visit the Church of the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth , where the angel announced to Mary that she would concieve Jesus as the Son of God (luke 1). Nearby we could also visit Saint Joseph Church , as well as the Synagogue church (Luke 4:16-22) and Mary’s Well .
After a lunch break at a local fish restaurant (Saint Peter’s fish anyone?..) we continue to Capernaum , where we review finds related to Jesus and the early Christianity. Above the site, at Mount of Beatitudes we could read and contamplate on the manifest of Jesus known as the “Sermon on the Mount”, lifting the Law of Moses to a level of Grace and love. If time and will permits we could end the day with a Sail on the Sea of Galilee
O/N: Mizpe Hayamim or Scots Hotel.
Day 6 – On the way to Damascus
Set to explore the northern edge of Israel we start with Tel Hazor , a major Canaanite city destroyed by the Israelites according to the Bible (Joshua 11:10-13). Further north, at Caesarea Philippi (Banias) we learn of how Simon-Jonah was nicknamed “Petrus” by Jesus (Luke 9:18-20).
We then asend along “the way to Damascus” (Acts 9:3-9) into the Golan Heights . At Mount Bental we view into Syria and discuss the modern conflicts in this region, and combine it with a special lunch experience in a local Druze village. After lunch we apperciate the discoveries made at ancient Magdala and the nearby Sea of Galilee Boat .
O/N: Mizpe Hayamim or Scots hotel
Day 7 – From Jewish Movement to Global Movement
Heading to Tel-Aviv we pass by the plains of “Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16) near ancient Megiddo . At Caesarea we stroll along the ruins of its ancient Theatre and Herods Palace, where Paul’s Prison may have been.
Day 8 – “The rebirth of a Jewish Nation”
Being in the modern and vibrant city of Tel-Aviv we will combine the last day of the tour with several experiences. In Shalom Meir Tower Visitors Center we will learn about the birth of Tel-Aviv, and a short walk along Rothschild Boulevard will get us to Independence Hall where we will learn about the birth of the Nation.
After lunch we continue to Rabin Assassination site and join a tour of the Palmach Museum . We end the day with a farewell dinner a Dallal restaurant in Neve Tzedek and then head to the airport for departure.
Optional extension to Petra and the Negev
Day 9 – “The Southern Frontier”
O/N: Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum
Day 10 – “Gold Frankincense and Myrrh”.
An early start will get us to Petra before the heat and the crowds, where we will walk along the “Siq” up to the “Treasury” (“Al-Khazneh”) , the most iconic tomb facade of Petra. Assessing the Nabateans and their possible identification with the “Wise men from the East” we will review their material culture at the Petra New Museum and then head back to the border crossing.
If time permits we could visit Aqaba on the way, and learn about the “Great Arab revolt” and “Lawrence of Arabia”, as well as review rare finds of one of the earliest Christian churches ever found.
Day 11 – “Desert Nature Wonders”
Our morning in Eilat can start with an optional snorkeling or Scuba Diving experience at the Red Sea , or a tour to the copper mines attributed to Solomon at Timna (II Kings 7:46), where we can also have a tour of the Tabernacle Replica .
We then head in the heart of the NEGEV, and settle above the Ramon Crater where we could join a tour at the Ramon Crater Visitors Center and set an optional Rappeling activity. After dinner we could also set a unique experience of Stargazing in Ramon Crater .
O/N: Beresheet, Mizpe Ramon.
Day 12 – Farewell to the Promised Land