Every other year Dr. Widbin hosts a group of primarily seminary students for a quintessential study trip to Israel. Here is a sample itinerary from one of those trips:
Bible Settings Fall 2014 Israel Study Trip
Director/Guide: Dr. Bryan Widbin
October 16-26, 2014
Oct 16 (Wed) Leave New York
Oct 17 (Thurs) Arrive Tel Aviv. Transfer to The Seasons Hotel, Netanya.
Oct 18 (Fri) Caesarea Maritima / Megiddo / Nazareth / Nain.
Our day begins with visit to the capital of Roman Palestine at Caesarea, where Paul was incarcerated before being sent to Rome. Then we pass through the Iron Pass of Mt. Carmel to Megiddo, Solomon’s store city, for a look at Canaanite temples, stables and a water system from the days of Ahab. Megiddo is mentioned in Revelation as the geographical point that will control the world (cf. Armageddon). Then after lunch we’ll ascend to Nazareth on the north rim of the Jezreel Valley, where we consider the boyhood years of Jesus against the backdrop of a lower Galilean hamlet of first century Galilee. On our way to the sea then we pass the little town of Nain where Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead. The Herodian cemetery is clearly visible as we consider Luke’s account there. Finally, we cut through the rolling hills to a vantage point overlooking the Sea of Galilee, our home for the next several days in Tiberias. Overnight Kibbutz Ma’agan, Tiberias.
Oct 19 (Sat) Kursi / Chorazin / Capernaum / Lunch / Boat Ride on Sea (Ginnosar to Tiberias)
This day begins with a visit to the “other side” of the lake and the Decapolis site of Kursi-Gergesa, where Jesus casts demons into a swine herd. Then we motor to the ruins of Chorazin where we also get a first-hand look at life inside a Jewish fishing village. Its synagogue and insular housing give opportunity to introduce the Jewish world of the north. Afterwards it is just a short ride to Capernaum, Jesus’ headquarters in the home of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Then after lunch by the Sea, we take a jaunt across the Sea from Gennesaret to Tiberius on a boat replica from the time of Jesus. If time, we get a last look at the Sea of Galilee from high atop the Arbel cliff and a final time of reflection together. Overnight Kibbutz Ma’agan, Tiberias.
Oct 20 (Sun) Hazor / Dan / Banyas-Caesarea Philippi / Damascus Road / Gamla
Leaving Lower Galilee we ascend the higher reaches of Upper Galilee. Our first stop is at Hazor, on the Old Babylonian itinerary at the upper ford of the Jordan River and burned by Joshua in the Hebrew invasion of the north. Then we motor north just a few miles south of the border with Lebanon before 1982. Here we visit the Old Testament city of Dan, where the northern shrine housing a golden calf of Jeroboam rested. We’ll see its pedestal and appreciate the springs of the Jordan River’s most important water source. Just before lunch, a few minutes brings us to Caesarea Philippi, the site of Peter’s confession of Jesus’ messianic office. Lunch in a little Druze village at the foot of Mount Hermon, snow-capped it will be even as early as October! We’ll view the Damascus Road where Paul met the resurrected Christ and finish the day and the infamous Zealot strong point of Gamla. The view of the Sea of Galilee below us from Gamla is breathtaking. Overnight Kibbutz Ma’agan, Tiberias.
Oct 21 (Mon) Jordan River / Beth Shean / Ma’ayan Harod /Dead Sea Swim / Jericho
After a good night’s sleep we stop at the outflow of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee, consider the history of this well-known river, and participate and dedicatory water rite. Then we motor on to Beth Shean (known as Scythopolis in Jesus’ day) at the foot of Mt. Gilboa. This city gives us the most complete picture of life in Gentile Galilee during the time of Christ. Then it is on to the spring where Gideon pared down him men at the command of the Lord in dealing with the Midianites. Finally, an hour’s bus ride moves us from the “Land of Honey” to the “Land of Milk” and the Judean desert. An absolutely unique swim in the Dead Sea (33% salt!) caps our day before visiting Jericho, known to us from both Testaments of Scripture. The day closes with an ascent to the holy city, Jerusalem, our home base for the remainder of the trip. Nothing can compare with a first sighting of the city from the eastern reaches of the Judean desert. Overnight Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.
Oct 22 (Tues) Jerusalem / David’s City / Southern Wall Excavations / Wailing Wall / Herodian Quarter
Our day begins with the ramparts and building remains of Old Testament Israel’s capital city built by David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Herod the Great. This morning’s activities include visits to the terraces of David’s palace, Hezekiah’s water system, and the sacred temple platform developed by Solomon and Herod. We’ll visit the southern approach to Herod’s temple where Jesus preached to the multitudes during his last week on earth. This afternoon we lunch in the Jewish Quarter, home to the Sadducees during Jesus’ day. Here we’ll sit with an orthodox Jewish scholar who will engage us with the claims of mainline Judaism and his understandings of contemporary Christianity. Finally, we visit the site of Herod’s Jerusalem palace where he entertained the Magi. Likely this is the praetorium where Pilate condemned Jesus of Nazareth. With much to ponder we return to our hotel for the night. Overnight Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.
Oct 23 (Wed) Masada / Ein Gedi Hike / Qumran
This day begins with an early morning bus ride to the desert canyons of the Dead Sea. First is the well-known and can’t miss site of Masada, where Zealots stood to the last against the Tenth Legion Fretensis of Rome. We’ll cable car to the top and give ample time for appreciating the ruins and free time for all. Then just north of Masada we hike up the canyon where David hid from Saul at Ein Gedi (I Samuel 24). Here we’ll consider the setting of the 23rd Psalm with all of its features as well as images of a renewed earth in the imagination of the prophet Isaiah. Then it’s on to the site of Qumran and the community of the Yachad, where the initial discoveries of the so-called Dead Sea scrolls were recovered. Tomorrow we’ll actually see the scrolls on display at the Israel Museum. Overnight Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.
Oct 24 (Thurs) Israel Museum / Wohl Archaeological Museum / Western Wall / Herodium / Bethlehem
The day begins at the Israel Museum for a look at the Jerusalem from Jesus’ day in a 1:50 scale model of the city. This viewing will set up importantly what we will do on our final day as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus during his final week. Our day continues beneath the streets of the upper city looking at the homes of the priestly caste. Here we’ll lay out the arrangement of Caiaphas’ house, which will assist us in tomorrow’s activities. And before leaving Jerusalem, no visit to Israel is complete without a few minutes at the Western (Retaining) Wall of the Temple (so-called by some, the “Wailing” Wall). Then it’s on to the humble site of Bethlehem where the Prince of Peace was born. There we’ll visit the town square and give some time for lunch and experiencing this town on the edge of the Judean wilderness. After lunch we move to the site of Herod’s burial place at a fortress called Herodium (“Herod’s Place”). The underground escape tunnels and accoutrements of the citadel are spectacular. Overnight Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.
Oct 25 (Fri) Mount of Olives / Gethsemane / St. Peter in Gallicantu / Church of the Holy Sepulchre
We begin this final climactic day of our program on the historic Mount of Olives with a panoramic tracing of the events of Passion Week. We then stroll along to the Dominus Flevit church, built originally by the Byzantines to commemorate the event of Christ’s weeping over Jerusalem. The agony of Christ takes on new meaning at the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built over the ruins of Caiaphas’ house and courtyard. Then after lunch we visit the site of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate and walk together to the site of his crucifixion and burial. As we reflect on these events we give particular attention to the resurrection on which our faith rests. The day climaxes with a communion service and reflection time at the hotel.
Oct 26 (Sat) Departure