ISRAEL 2018 ITINERARY
Fri, May 18
Today we depart for our overnight flight to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Sat, May 19
ARRIVE in ISRAEL
Today we arrive in Tel Aviv early morning and proceed through passport control where our Wilcox World Travel and Tours representative will meet us at the baggage claim area. After we pick up our luggage, the representative will lead us to the airport exit where we will meet our guide, board our bus and begin our tour of the Holy Land. We start by driving north to the coast of Sharon where the baptism of the Gentiles began at Caesarea Maritima (Focus on Acts 10). We include the sunken harbor, the hippodrome, the theatre and the Roman aqueduct. Then we drive to Muhraka (“burnt offering”) on Mt. Carmel, with a panorama of the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon) (Focus on I Kings 18, the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal). We continue to Megiddo for the background to Armageddon (Revelation 16). We continue on to nearby Nazareth, where we will visit the Church of the Annunciation and get a view from the “brow of the hill on which the city was built” (Luke 4), looking toward Mt. Tabor in the Jezreel Plain. We continue to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and the next three overnights.
Sun, May 20
UPPER GALILEE AND TIBERIAS, THE SOURCES OF THE JORDAN
After breakfast, we make a brief stop at Hazor, the largest Canaanite city, for a view of Mount Hermon and its surroundings. We then drive to Dan where we combine a nature walk beside the Upper Jordan River with views of the ancient ruins, including the Israelite high place that supported a golden calf (I Kings 12). A short drive then takes us to the spring of Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter confessed his recognition of Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16). Here we will visit the stunning remains of a first-century AD palace belonging to Agrippa II. We drive around Mt. Hermon for a glimpse of Damascus, 45 miles away, then head back over the Golan Heights to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee.
Mon, May 21
TIBERIAS / A DAY ON THE SEA OF GALILEE
After breakfast we will take a cruise on the lake in a wooden boat modeled on one from Jesus’ time (Matthew 14). Then drive over to the Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7). Those who wish may walk down the hill to the lake, meeting the group at Tabgha where Christians have long remembered the first feeding of the multitude (Mark 6) and nearby, the breakfast of John 21. Following lunch we will visit the site of Jesus feeding breakfast to his disciples in John 21 and the Primacy of Peter. Then it is on to Capernaum, where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter (Mark 1 and 2). Then it’s back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Tue, May 22
BETH SHEAN / JERICHO / JERUSALEM
We will cross the plain and descend through the Jezreel Valley to Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). Here we shall climb the tel and view the setting for the death of Saul (I Samuel 28 - II Samuel 1). We then survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: the theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, and colonnaded streets. Next we drive through the Jordan valley to Jericho. At Jericho, we will visit the tel of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at St. George’s Monastery. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem and proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Wed, May 23
MT. OF OLIVES / BETHLEHEM
After breakfast we start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After an orientation, we descend the traditional Palm Sunday road to Dominus Flevit (“The Lord weeps”), remembering Jesus’ entry (Luke 19). We continue down to Gethsemane (Matthew 26) with a visit to the garden and the church for some quiet time. From here we drive to Mt. Zion to the grounds of a church called St. Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. (Here, the Assumptionist Fathers propose, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus). Next we drive to Bethlehem region passing by Rachel's Tomb on the outskirts of the city. We head to Solomon's Pools that supplied water to Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Passing the monastery of Hortus Conclusus (“the sealed garden”) in Artas, we go to Shepherds’ Fields. Next we visit Bethlehem, walking through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. Then it’s back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Thu, May 24
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF JERUSALEM AND NEW CITY
After breakfast we transfer to the Dung Gate where we visit the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. We will ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. We then examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, including steps where we may be certain that Jesus and the disciples walked. The group may then descend the slope of the first Jerusalem (“City of David”) to the Gihon spring and proceed through Hezekiah’s tunnel, which led the water to a pool where city dwellers of old were safe from the Assyrian arrows. We then drive to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Israel Museum, including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD. Then it’s back to our hotel for dinner. After dinner we will have the opportunity to visit the Western Wall tunnel that enables us to examine the length of the outer Herodian Temple wall, mostly preserved in mint condition, including two stone blocks each weighing about 600 tons.
Fri, May 25
JERUSALEM: /THE WAY OF THE CROSS/MT. ZION /AIRPORT
This morning we transfer to St. Stephens Gate and we start our tour by stopping at the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, perfectly preserved from the Crusader period with remarkable acoustics. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher. We walk past the Armenian Quarter and exit Mt. Zion Gate. There we visit King David's Tomb and the upper Room. From there we make our way to the Garden Tomb for a special visit and communion. We conclude the day with a Middle Eastern farewell dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem before we drive to the airport for our flight home.
Sat, May 26
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.