We will spend our second Sabbath on our trip walking in the steps of Jesus in ancient sites around the Sea Galilee. The day begins as we retrace the steps of Jesus by walking through the hills around Capernaum, where Jesus often taught and instructed his disciples as recorded in the Semon on the Mount in Matthew. After walking down to the Sea of Galilee, we will see the remains of an ancient boat that dates to the time of Jesus and then take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
After sailing from Tiberias to Capernaum, we visit the ancient remains of the city of Capernaum. Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was the hometown of the Apostle Peter, and the place where Jesus healed a paralytic and Peter's mother-in-law (Mk. 1:21, 29). Jesus made Capernaum the main base of his Galilean ministry. Today a church stands on the spot where Peter's house was supposedly located. The house does date back to Jesus' time and appears to have been a sacred site by the mid-1st century.
Our final stop will be to Nazareth Village, a reconstructed first-century farm and village that illustrates the way life was lived in the time of Jesus.
Dinner and Overnight Dinner and Overnight at Ron Beach Hotel, Tiberius
On our way to Tel Aviv, we will first stop at two OT sites: Tel Jezreel and Mount Carmel. Jezreel was a major Biblical city, and at the 9th Century BC it was the northern capital of the Israel Kingdom. The Bible tells about many events associated with the city: the King's palace in the city; the battle of the Gilboa when King Saul was killed; Naboth's vineyard and the plot of Jezebel to posses it; and Jehu and the death of Jezebel and her son. From here we travel to Mount Carmel--the site where the Prophet Elijah battled with the priests of Baal as recorded in 1 Kings 18.
After lunch, we will visit Caesarea Maritima, the site of Herod the Great's famous man-made harbor. Caesarea was the only harbor in ancient Israel. In addition to sailing in and out of this harbor during his missionary journey's, the apostle Paul was also imprisoned here for several years. Caesarea was also a key location for the Crusaders in the Middle Ages.
Dinner and overnight at the Metropolitan Hotel in Tel Aviv
Today we journey to three famous OT sites. The first is the Valley of Elah. This is where the famous battle between young David and the Giant Goliath took place. The valley was an important corridor from the coast cities up to the center of the land Judah and its cities - Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem. From here we visit the ruins of an ancient Beersheba. Beersheba is famous in the Bible as one of the places where Abraham and Isaac stayed (Gen. 21:22-34; 26:15-33). The remains we will see dates from 1000 to 700 BC, basically the time from David through Hezekiah. We will see fortified walls, the remains of four-room houses, and the remains of an altar that illustrates the reason for the city's condemnation by the prophet Amos (Amos 8:14).
After lunch, we head off to Tel Arad. Tel-Arad is a little mentioned city in the Bible, though the site if very interesting. Arad is situated in a strategic geographical location by ancient trade routes coming from the south and southeast. The Canaanites were the original settlers of this area and established a large city here between 3000-2300 B.C. The King of Arad attacked Israel while they were making their way toward Canaan (Numbers 21:1-3). The Israelites defeat the city and renamed it “Hormah” which means “utter destruction.” During the divided monarchy a fortress was established at Tel-Arad to protect Judah’s southern border against its enemies, in particular, the Edomites.
What makes the site so interesting is that it sported a complete temple that included all of the elements of Solomon’s temple. The temple, however, illustrates the corruption of true worship since we will see the evidence that in addition to worshipping God, they also worshiped his Asherah, or wife! The temple was buried during King Josiah's reforms, although not destroyed, making it nearly completely intact today.
Rather than staying at a hotel tonight, we will experience what it was like for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to dwell in tents. We will have dinner and spent the night in an authentic Bedouin Camp - Kfar Hanokdimwe. It will be a once an a life time experience!
While traveling through the Judean desert on our way to Jerusalem, today we will make two important stops. Our first stop will be at the massive palace/fortress built by Herod the Great and known as Masada. During the Roman Administration of Palestine, Masada became home to a garrison of Roman soldiers. At the beginning of the Jewish-Roman War in A.D. 66, a group of Jewish extremists surprised and overcame the Roman garrison on Masada. Due to its strategic and nearly impregnable location, the Jewish extremists and their families successfully held off the Romans for some six years. After multiple failed attempts to breach the wall, the Romans built a massive rampart using thousands of tons of dirt and rock. Shortly before the Romans finally gained access to the city, the Jews all committed suicide, choosing to die free rather than be taken captive.
Our tour of Masada begins by exploring the Roman military camps and climbing the steps align the siege ramp to the top. We will explore the palace cisterns, the remains of Herod's palace fortress, and take a cable car down the other side, where we will stop at an interactive museum.
After Masada we travel a few miles up the road to Ein Gedi and then to Qumran.
Ein Gedi is a beautiful desert oasis, where David and his men often stayed after he fled from King Saul. In fact, it was in one of the caves around En Gedi that David chose not to murder King Saul. Not recognizing that David was hiding in side the cave, Saul entered the cave to relieve himself. We will have the chance to cool off by swimming in some of the beautiful spring pools and waterfalls located there
Our final stop of the day is Qumran. In Jesus' day, Qumran was a monastic-like community of radically conservative Jews known as Essenes. Convinced that the Jewish nation had completely gone astray from the worship of God, the Essences founded their own community in the Judean desert where they could more closely keep the Mosaic law and maintain remain ritually pure. They also believed that the end of time was at hand and that it would involve a battle between the "sons of light" and the "sons of darkness." The Essenes also appear to be the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were discovered in 1947. While the Dead Sea Scrolls contain various documents about the beliefs of the Essences, they more importantly contain our oldest copies of the Hebrew Scriptures--dating back to around the year 300 B.C., over a thousand years earlier than all other copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. The caves where these scrolls were discovered can be seen in the distance when we visit Qumran.
Dinner and Overnight at the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem