DAY 1: TEL AVIV / JAFFA / CAESAREA
On arrival at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv you will be met and transferred to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 2: JERUSALEM with DAN BAHAT
Our tour begins on the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Scopus, with several spectacular views of Jerusalem. These views will give us a clearer understanding of Jerusalem’s geographical position. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane. We then drive down to the Old City and begin to explore the city’s historical layers at the City of David. Excavations have exposed the city and shaft leading from the city to the water supply in the Kidron Valley. We will examine Hezekiah’s Tunnel, built through the rock under the city to divert the water into an inner city reservoir, the Gihon Spring and Pool of Siloam. There will be time this afternoon to stroll in the Old City and to experience the preparations for the Jewish Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Garden Tomb. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 3: JERUSALEM
Our first stop this morning is the Model of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple. The remainder of the morning is devoted to an in-depth visit to the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and many other treasures, as well as an ethnography collection and the Billy Rose sculpture gardens. Lastly, we will stroll through the Kidron Valley, which holds some of the finest standing monuments of the Second Temple period. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 4: JERUSALEM
Returning to the Old City, we tour the Islamic monuments on the Temple Mount, including the Dome of the Rock and El-Aqsa Mosque (provided they are open to the public). Our touring continues to the Church of St. Anne visiting the Bethesda Pool and we will follow the via dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (in the Christian Quarter) Dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: JERUSALEM
Time for worship in the morning. The focus of this exciting day is the recent discoveries of the New Testament times. Beginning in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, we visit the Herodian Quarter, the residence of the upper-class Jerusalemites; the Cardo, the main thoroughfare of the Upper City and the fascinating southern wall excavations (the steps leading to the southern gates of the Temple). Dinner and overnight.
DAY 6: JERUSALEM
We visit the Bible Lands Museum and the Rockefeller Museum of Archaeology. Here we will see important finds from throughout the country, including the famous Israelite “Lachish Letters.” The afternoon is at leisure to explore the city on our own. Dinner and overnight. After dinner we join for a lecture from one of the leading archaeological in the land.
DAY 7: BETHLEHEM / HERODION / TEL ARAD
Our day begins with a visit to Bethlehem. We continue to Herodion, the spectacular fortress built by King Herod between 22 and 15 BCE. We then visit the desert settlement at Tel Arad, an impressive Early Bronze Age city and Israelite citadel, and descend to the Dead Sea, stopping along the way to view spectacular desert vistas. We will arrive at our Dead Sea Hotel with time to swim in the Dead Sea before dinner.
DAY 8: TIBERIAS
This special day begins with an early ascent to the great fortress of Masada. Built by Herod as a sanctuary, it was later occupied by the Zealots and others fleeing the Romans. After a full morning at this extensive site, we will travel north to Qumran, believed to have been an Essene settlement whose library housed the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in nearby caves. We then continue to ancient Jericho one of the oldest urban settlements in the world. After completing our touring, we drive up the Jordan Valley to Tiberias for two nights at our hotel situated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 9: GALILEE
Our day begins at Tel Dan, known in antiquity as Laish until it was captured by the tribe of Dan. This fascinating tel has yielded wonderful architecture, including a fine Middle Bronze Age mud-brick arched gate and a cult centre, where three altars have been found. The afternoon’s touring will focus on the Golan Heights and will include Banias, one of the sources of the Jordan, and the Crusader fortress of Qalat Namrud, return Tiberias for dinner and overnight
DAY 10: GALILEE
Our first stop this morning is Capernaum, the site of Jesus’ three-year ministry. We will then drive around the Sea of Galilee to the Golan Archaeological Museum and the ancient site of Katzrin. We will stop to examine 2nd millennium BCE funerary dolmens and visit the fortified ancient town of Gamla, with the only visible ruin of a first century synagogue in Galilee. We can easily imagine the bloody battle described by Josephus as we stand above the ruined city. After lunch, touring continues at Hazor where we explore the site and Amnon Ben-Tor’s current excavations. Early work by Yigael Yadin revealed 21 different strata of settlement going back to the Early Bronze Age. Famous as one of King Solomon’s military centres, it was finally destroyed by the Assyrians, Dinner and overnight.
DAY 11: MEGIDDO / CAESAREA / TEL AVIV
Our first visit will be to the Solomonic city of Megiddo, exploring the remains of the ancient city, the Early Bronze Age temples and the city’s amazing water system. Continue to the Roman port of Caesarea, built by King Herod. On-going excavations are exposing greater expanses of the Roman city and port. Dinner and overnight Tel Aviv.
DAY 12: TEL AVIV
Our last morning in Israel will be spent visiting the Ha’aretz Museum, including Tel Qasile, a well-preserved Philistine temple. Transfer to Ben Gurion airport.