Winter Study Tour with Jordan and Egypt Extension

Bible Settings Winter Israel Study Tour (Jordan/Egypt optional extension)Director/Guide:  Dr. Bryan Widbin

January 4-15, 2012

Jan 4 (W)                  Leave for Israel.

Jan 5 (Th)  Tel Aviv / Caesarea Maritima / Netanya

This morning we arrive in Tel Aviv.  If time, we move along the Mediterranean coast to the capital of Roman Palestine, Caesarea.  Christianity began at this pagan city with the conversion of Cornelius and the preaching of Paul.  Upon arrival, we transfer to the Mediterranean coastal city of Netanya for our overnight at the Blue Bay Hotel, Netanya.

Jan 6 (F) Netanya / Mount  Carmel / Megiddo / Nazareth/Nain/Ma’agan

After a good night’s rest, we leave the coast heading north to the upper reaches of Mount  Carmel, where Elijah bested the prophets of Baal and Asherah.  What a view of the tribal inheritances of Asher, Zebulon, Issachar, and Naftali from the peak of this lengthy ridge!  Next it is on to Solomon’s store city of Megiddo for a look at Canaanite temples, stables and a walk through an underground defensive water system from the days of Ahab.  After lunch we move north to Nazareth, ,boyhood home of Jesus and then toward the Sea of Galilee stopping briefly at the lower Galilean town of Nain, where Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead.  The Herodian cemetery is clearly visible for considering Luke’s account of this event.  Finally we cut through the hills to the Sea of Galilee and our port residence on the southern coast of the Sea.  Overnight Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar.

Jan 7 (Sa) Chorazin / Capernaum / Fish Lunch/Kursi/Boat Ride

Today we begin with a visit to Gergesa-Kursi, the site of the casting out of the demons into the swine herd.  Then we’ll get a first-hand look at life inside a Jewish fishing village from the days of Jesus at Chorazin.  Before lunch, we visit the ruins of Capernaum, Jesus’ base on the sea, where he resided with his disciples for an extended time in the home of Simon’s mother-in-law.  We’ll catch a late fish lunch near Magdala, home town of Mary Magdalene, before board a fishing boat for a cruise across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberius.  This setting will give us opportunity to consider the “sea stories” in the Gospel narratives.  The day concludes with a short hike (if time) through the plain of Gennesaret where Jesus conducted much of his healing ministry.  Overnight Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar.

Jan 8 (Su) Beth Shean / Ma’ayan Harod / Qumran/Jericho/Ein Gedi

After a restful night’s sleep we leave the Sea of Galilee region by way of Beth Shean (known as Scythopolis in Jesus’ day) at the foot of Mount Gilboa.  This decapolis city gives us the most complete picture available of Gentile Galilee during the time of Christ.  Then we’re on to a first look at the Dead Sea, 1300ft. below sea level, and a stop at Qumran and the famous Dead Sea Scroll caves.  Our day concludes in Jericho, that nemesis of Joshua and frequent stopping place for Jesus on pilgrimage to Jerusalem from Galilee.  Overnight Intercontinental Hotel, Jericho.

Jan 9 (M) Ein Gedi Nature Hike / Masada / Swim in the Dead Sea / Dead Sea Overlook/Arad

This day begins with a beautiful hike up the canyon where David hid out from Saul during his days as a renegade.  We’ll enjoy the spring that sustained David during these trying days.  Then we motor to Masada where we board a cable car to the summit of this mountain fortress where Jewish Zealots stood to their final days against the 10th legion of Rome.  After lunch, we take time out to swim in the Dead Sea, a once-in-a-lifetime must-do for everyone!  Then we rise to an overlook above the southern shore of the Dead Sea to consider the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Finally, if time affords, our day concludes with a visit to ancient Arad, where rest the ruins of Solomon’s fort and temple established during the latter days of his reign..  Overnight at Inbar Hotel, Arad.

Jan 10 (T) Beersheba / Lachish / Azeka / Bethlehem

This morning we motor west to Beersheba, city of Abraham and fortress city protecting the southwest flank of the kingdom of Judah.  After lunch, it is on to the lowlands and Lachish, where we examine what’s left of the attack of Sennacherib’s Assyrian regulars on this strong point of King Hezekiah’s kingdom.  A short ride from here brings us to the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath.   And finally our day turns eastward to the mountains of Judah and our final resting place in Bethlehem.  You won’t forget our experiences in this “little town” in the Judean hills!  Overnight Intercontinetal Hotel, Bethlehem.

Jan 11 (W) Bethlehem / City of David Archaeological Garden / Wailing Wall / Jewish Quarter/Nabi Samwil

This morning we visit one of the oldest churches in the world.  It stands on the site that gives every evidence of being the place where Jesus was born.  Then we motor north a few miles to Jerusalem to see 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, including the well-known “Wailing” Wall which formed the retaining buttress for the temple of Jesus’ day.  After lunch in the ancient Sadducean quarter of the Old City, we’ll interact with an orthodox Jewish shopkeeper about his feelings about a coming Messiah and the nature of saving faith.  A final stop north of the city brings us to the ancient high place of Gibeon, where Solomon sought wisdom from God to rule over his vast kingdom.  This spot gives a view of the tribal inheritance of Benjamin and the situation of Jerusalem on the southern rim of the Benjaminite plateau.  Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.

Jan 12 (Th)  Israel Museum/Wohl Archaeological Museum/Southern Wall Excavations

Today we set perspective for the events of Jesus’ life in and around Jerusalem by visiting a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem from Jesus’ day at the Israel Museum.  Then we descend 10 feet below the streets of the Jewish Quarter, home to the Sadducees in Jesus day, and walk among the ruins of Jesus’ Jerusalem.  Then we’ll walk down to the temple area and to the Herodian street from the time of Jesus.  We sit where he taught his disciples during those days before his death.  Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.

Jan 13 (F)   FREE DAY

Options abound for touring the Holy City on your own.  Pilgrim walk down the traditional  Via Dolorosa and the gathering at the Western Wall at dusk are highlights.  Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.

Jan 14 (Sa)  Mount of Olives / Gethsemane / St. Peter in Gallicantu / Church of the Holy Sepulchre / Jerusalem / Tel Aviv / USA

We begin this final climactic day of our tour 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 walk the Via Dolorosa (“way of sorrows”) from the site of the Roman trials before Pilate to Calvary and its tomb complex at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Finally, we gather for communion at the hotel for a meaningful time of final reflection together. After dinner we will go to the airport for our flight home. People that are going on the Exodus extension overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.

Jan 15 (Su)  Home

We arrive home with memories that will unfold over a lifetime and new understandings of the Word of God.

(Jordan/Egypt Extension [Optional]:

January 15-21, 2012)

Jan 15 (Su)   Jordan / Egypt Option:  Jerusalem / Jordan River/Mount Nebo/Madaba/Petra

The group continuing on to Egypt will cross the Allenby Bridge, east of Jericho, viewing briefly the location of Jesus’ baptism by John and continuing on to Mount Nebo, where Moses viewed the promised land for the first time.  Before motoring to Petra via the Royal Road and Wadi Mujeib, we stop at the St. George Church in Madaba for a look at the famous Madaba map of biblical sites from the 6th century, AD.  Overnight Panorama Hotel, Petra, Jordan.

Jan 16 (M)  Petra

Today we spend our entire time at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Next to the Great Wall of China, you will agree that the rock cut, rose red Nabatean city of Petra represents the greatest monument in existence today.  We’ll walk down the narrow Siq, about 1250 meters long, remembering this from the filming of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Upon emergence, the first site is breathtaking! One can never forget the expanse of the Khazneh displayed on the rock cliffs ahead.  The rest of day viewing the rock cut tombs, the theatre, and the various other administrative and religious edifices of the Nabateans, Romans and Byzantines defies description.  At the close of the day, we’ll retrace our steps (or you can do it by camel for a little extra!) to the hotel.  Overnight Panorama Hotel, Petra, Jordan.

Jan 17 (T)   Petra/Aqaba/Ferry/Ras Sadr

This morning we rim the desert road south toward the Jordanian city of Aqaba.  Here we embark on a fast ferry boat to the Sinai peninsula and Egypt.  After procuring our group visa at the authorities, we board our Egyptian motor coach on to Ras Sadr for our overnight.  Overnight The Royal Beach, Sinai, Egypt.

Jan 18 (W)   Ras Sadr/Elim/Desert Four-Wheel Drive/Bedouin Hospitality/Marah/Cairo

This morning we journey across the Sinai desert to Elim, an oasis where likely the Israelites encamped and enjoyed the provision of God (Exod. 15:27).  After this, a highlight of our experience in the Sinai!  We take 4x4s and challenge the desert, six to a vehicle, viewing Egyptian mining camps and petraglyphs by the ancients.  After our jaunt, we arrive just in time for lunch, courtesy of our hosts, the desert people (Bedouin), enjoying an unforgettable, sumptuous barbeque with them.  After lunch, we board our bus for the Suez Canal and our crossing into one of “the most successful of ancient civilizations,” Egypt.  On our way, we stop for a visit at Marah, a sulfur hot springs, where Moses sweetened the waters for the escaping Israelites.  Then, we cross the canal and continue on to Cairo.  Overnight Pyramids Park Intercontinental, Giza/Cairo, Egypt.

Jan 19 (Th)  FREE DAY

You will be exhilarated and likely ready for some time on your own on our first day in Egypt.  We give you a day at leisure for private touring, shopping in the famous markets of Cairo, relaxing around the pool, coordinating your notes, whatever your hearts desire.  Overnight Pyramids Park Intercontinental, Giza/Cairo, Egypt.

Jan 20 (F)   Giza Pyramids / the Great SphinxCamel Ride / Egyptian Museum /Coptic Cairo / USA

After breakfast, our first stop will be a visit at the world famous pyramids of Giza.  We tour the grand Cheops pyramid, built during the Old Kingdom, around 2690 BC.  Our second site is the Great Sphinx, carved from a single piece of sandstone, where we view the colossus and explore the various theories as to its preservation.  We find time to ride camels here through the area of the pyramids.  We travel now through Cairo crossing the Nile from Heliopolis to Old Cairo to explore the city’s medina and alabaster mosque.  Then, it is on to the treasures on display at the Egyptian museum, highlighting the Amarna finds and the wonderfully preserved artifacts from the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amon.  Finally, this afternoon we visit Christian Cairo:  the famous Hanging Church, ‘al-Mu’allaqah, and the Church of St. Sergius of the 5th cent. AD.   Our day concludes with a visit to the recently restored Ibn Ezra Synagogue, the oldest Jewish house of prayer in Egypt, built in 882 AD.  We will have a farewell dinner, then go to the airport for our flight home.

Jan 21 (Sa)  Home

We arrive home with memories that will unfold over a lifetime and new understandings of the Word of God.

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