ISRAEL (Israel Personally Yours with Joan Keane): February 22 - March 4, 2020 "The Land of the Bible" with Pastor Jeremy Wood (Program #200202)

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Day 1: Saturday, Feb 22, 2020

Flights will be scheduled to depart from St. Louis. Arrangements can be made from other cities for everyone to connect at the east coast gateway for the non-stop flight to Israel. Meals and overnight will be in flight.

Day 2: Sunday, Feb 23, 2020

As you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport (located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) there is a wonderful aerial view of the Promised Land! You will begin to connect with that Land on the drive from the airport to your hotel on the Mediterranean coast. After dinner together we will have a brief get-acquainted orientation. (1 night) B,D.

Day 3: Monday, Feb 24, 2020

Traveling north following the ancient coastal Via Maris, we will stop first to visit the Israel College of the Bible in Netanya. It is exciting to see Jews and Arabs learning the scripture together! Then we visit the massive excavations at Caesarea and learn of the Roman governate that ruled during the time of Jesus. On Mt. Carmel we think about the conflicts faced by Elijah, and how they apply to our daily lives. A drive through the Jezreel Valley (Armageddon) takes us to Nazareth. The excavated cave homes from the time of Jesus give us special insights to apply when we visit Bethlehem. Crossing lower Galilee, we arrive at our hotel overlooking the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight. (3 nights) B,D.

Day 4: Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020

Our day starts with a visit to the town of Capernaum (home base for Jesus and His disciples). The Mt. of Beatitudes and other sites around the Sea focus our thoughts on the time Jesus spent here. The Yigal Alon Museum displays a boat from the time of Jesus, and then we board a larger replica for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The recent excavations at Magdala turn our thoughts to the women in scripture who supported Jesus. B,D.

Day 5: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020

Today we visit the Golan Heights which is biblical Bashan. The melting snows of Mt. Hermon rush through the Dan Nature Reserve to form the Jordan River. Walking on paths beside those headwaters brings us to Tel Dan, and the remains of Jeroboam’s pagan altar. As we exit the Tel we see a complete, huge mud-brick Canaanite city gate from the time of Abraham. What a journey through history! Driving through the Golan and stopping at the overlook into Syria will make modern issues much more understandable. The reconstructed Talmudic Village at Katzrin brings awareness of life and conflicts during the century that followed Jesus’ death. B,D.

Day 6: Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

Leaving Galilee we tour the impressive Roman excavations at Beth Shean (biblical Scythopolis). We will be driving south through the Jordan valley while talking about the hills of Samaria on our right and the country of Jordan just across the river to our left. After lunch we visit Qumran and learn about the importance of the Dead Sea scrolls which were found there. We anticipate a mid-afternoon arrival at our spa hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea. That afternoon you can enjoy a swim in the unique waters of the Dead Sea (or the spa’s heated pools) and make use of their wonderful facilities. (1 night) B,D.

Day 7: Friday, Feb 28, 2020

A cable car will take us to the top of Masada, as we visit the site of one of Herod’s fortress-palaces, and the last holdout of the Zealots after the fall of Jerusalem. Then driving north through the Judean wilderness helps us understand the story of David hiding from Saul in the caves as we visit the area of Ein Gedi. And then it’s “up to Jerusalem”. What a thrilling time to finally enter the Holy City … the one place that God claims as His own! A brief stop on Mt. Scopus gives us a visual orientation to the city. Driving to our hotel in Jerusalem, we notice streets becoming quiet as the Jews prepare to welcome in the sabbath. (4/5 nights) B,D.

Day 8: Saturday, Feb 29, 2020

A panoramic view of the city of Jerusalem from the top of the Mt. of Olives is a magnificent site first thing in the morning! Then we take a walk among the ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. A short drive takes us across the Kidron Valley to the House of Caiaphas with its dungeon where it is believed Jesus was held prior to his trial. (The archaeological discovery of a set of weights and measures that would have been typical for the High Priest makes this a good candidate for authenticity.) We continue on to Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2) for lunch, a brief stop at the Church of the Nativity (conditions permitting), and a stop overlooking the area of the Shepherds’ Fields. The story of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz would have also taken place on these hills. B,D.

Day 9: Sunday Mar 1, 2020

Driving through the new city (West Jerusalem) we stop at the Israel Museum where we visit the 1:50 scale Model of the ancient city of Jerusalem (replicating the time of Jesus). Our next stop at Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust, will be very moving and help us to understand the pain the Jews have experienced. Then we transition from the heartbreak of death to a demonstration of life. This afternoon we’ll be walking in the Old City. The Jewish Quarter will be thriving with activity. After lunch we’ll see that it encompasses many historical eras: the Broad Wall of Nehemiah; the Cardo from the time of Jesus … and the time of the Byzantines … and the time of the Crusaders; the modern-day Hurvah Synagogue, destroyed in 1948 and rebuilt in 2010; and modern residences. Descending a large staircase we stand in front of the Western (Wailing) Wall, and the huge stones from King Herod’s construction. Around the corner at the South Wall excavations (and Davidson Center) we see “the place of the trumpeter” and walk on ancient steps that led into the Temple during the time of Jesus. B,D.

Day 10: Monday, Mar 2, 2020.

A visit to the Western Wall tunnel is a unique opportunity to go back in time many centuries, and to see the huge single stone which is estimated to weigh over 520 tons! (How did Herod have it lifted up into the wall???) Exiting the tunnel we go to the excavations at the Pools of Bethesda and sing in the fantastic acoustics of St. Anne’s Church. The pavement stones found in the Praetorium are from the time of Jesus, and depict games of chance that would have been played by the Roman soldiers. Walking through the city, we follow the Via Dolorosa (traditional Way of Sorrow), to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This location was outside the ancient city walls, and the presence of cohim-style tombs makes it a good candidate to be the site of the death and burial of Jesus. Then we walk to the beautiful Garden Tomb where we reflect on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection as we enjoy communion together. Our afternoon ends with a drive out into the Judean wilderness with a stop for a camel caravan at Genesis Land. Our ride on these “ships of the desert” won’t go too far, but it will be enough to give you a unique experience. B,D.

Day 11: Tuesday, Mar 3, 2020

A day at leisure allows time to shop, do additional sightseeing, or just relax and take in the local culture. You can walk from our hotel to the Old City, or take a short ride on the high speed train to the Ben Yehuda area (pedestrian mall) of the new city. (We will be keeping our hotel rooms throughout the day.) After our final dinner together, some people may transfer to the airport for a late-night flight headed back to the USA. Others will stay overnight in the hotel, and transfer to the airport after breakfast. B,D.

Day 12: Wednesday, Mar 4, 2020

The group is en route from Tel Aviv to the USA, and on to your hometown, arriving on Wednesday.

Every effort will be made to complete the full itinerary. Yet, because conditions are often unpredictable in travel, we reserve the right to make changes during the tour.