Many of the visitors to Israel seek to tour sites related to the New Testament and the life of Jesus.
Below is a suggested in-depth tour Christian oriented tour of the Holy Land.
11 Days Christian Oriented Tour Plan
Day 1 – Arrival, Jaffa
Upon Arrival we head to Tel-Aviv, where we check in and for for a tour of ancient Jaffa . Visiting the House of Simon the Tanner and Saint Peter Church we assess the Peter’s experience in Jaffa (Acts 10:9-16) and its importance in Christian History.
Day 2 – Caesarea and Armageddon
Today we head to Caeasrea . We review the wealth of finds, and especially those relating to Paul’s prison (Acts 23-26) and the baptism of Cornelius by Peter (Acts 10). After lunch we continue to Megiddo, one of King Solomon’s main fortified cities (I Kings 9:15).
We learn about the site’s past, as well as its estimated role at the end of days as “Armageddon” (Revelation 16). We end the day with a visit to the top of Mount Tabor , possible site of the transfiguration (Luke 9).
Day 3 – The Galilee
Returning to the Galilee, today we explore Jesus’ hometown - Nazareth . Strolling through the local market we visit the Church of Annunciation (Luke 1), the Synagogue church (Luke 4), and S. Gabriel church next to “Mary’s well“.
Day 4 -The Sea of Galilee
This day is devoted to exploring Holy Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee. We start with a visit to the first century synagogue discovered in Magdala , hometown of Mary Magdalene. We continue to the exhibition of the 2000 year old wooden boat at Ginosar “Sea of Galilee Boat“ , from which we sail to Ein-gev.
After lunch in a local fish restaurant, we drive to Kursi , site of the swine miracle (Matthew 8), and tour Capernaum . We end the day at the Mount of Beatitudes , Where by Catholic tradition Jesus stated the “Sermon on the mount” (Matthew 5).
Day 5 – The Golan Heights
We continue to explore the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee by visiting the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and fishes (Luke 9), and the nearby “Church of the Primacy of Peter” (John 21). Next we ascend to the Golan Heights , on the possible historical route Paul took to Damascus (Acts 9).
From the top of Mt. Bental we will review the complex history of this region, and after lunch in a Druze village we will continue to Caesarea-Philipi, where Jesus named his Disciple Simon-Yona “Peter” (Matthew 16). On the way back we could Kayak on the Jordan River, or drive along the Jordan River Rapids .
Day 6 – Baptism and Jerusalem
Today we head towards Jerusalem. We have the option of preforming baptism ceremony at ”Yardenit“ or the historical Baptism site at Qasr el-Yahud , as well as stop for a swim at the Dead Sea.Nearby, we visit Qumran and learn about the Fantastic discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and its possible links to the earliest history of Christianity.
At sundown we reach Jerusalem and great it with a “Shehcheyanu” fom Mount of Olives Viewpoint .
Day 7 – City of David and Bethlehem
Our first day in Jerusalem is devoted to learn about its foundation and Old Testament era by exploring the City of David . Walking along its ancient water tunnels we reach the Pool of Siloam , known also for the miracle Jesus performed of healing a blind man (John 9).
After a lunch break we continue to Bethlehem (with a Palestinian guide), and learn about the birth of Jesus at the Church of the Nativity . If time permits we may also visit the Shepherds’ fields and Herodium .
Day 8 – Along the Via Dolorosa
The Second day in Jerusalem is devoted to “Passion of Christ”. We enter at the Lions’ gate, and visit the Pools of Bethesdah, where Jesus demonstrated again his healing powers (John 5). Next we join the “Via Dolorosa“ , the holy path by Catholic tradition from the place of the trial of Jesus to the site of his crucifixion, today’s church of theHoly Sepulchre .
Day 9 – Mount of Olives and Ein-Karim
This day is devoted to Holy Christian sites on mount Olives. We begin with avisit to Bethphage (Matthew 21), continue to the Chapel of the Ascension (Acts 1), Dominus Flevit (Luke 19), and the Garden of Gethsemane , where at the “Rock of Agony” Jesus cried before his arrest (Mark 14). Nearby we visit the Cave of Gethsemane and Mary’s Tomb .
Day 10 – Following the Holy Ark
Today we will study the sites in the low Judean hills (the Shfela). We start with a visit to Emmaus, where Jesus appeared after his resurrection (Luke 24) and continue to the Battle site of David vs. Goliath (I Samuel 17) at Valley of Elah. After a lunch break we will visit Tel Beth-Shemesh and discuss the return of lost ark (I Samueal 6) and above Abu-Gosh we will visit the possible site where the ark was kept for 20 years (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant church).
Day 11 – Fairwell at the Israel Museum
On the last day, if time permits, we can visit the Israel Museum and learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls at the “Shrine of the Book” , assess Jerusalem at te time of Jesua at the Model of the Second Temple , and at the Archaeological Wing see artifacts related to the Historical Jesus – Evidence of Cricifixion, Caiaphas’ Ossuary, and Pilatus’ inscription.
If time permits we will have lunch at the Museum before heading to the Airport for fairwell and departure back home.
INDEX OF HOLY CHRISTIAN SITES IN ISRAEL
Below is an (incomplete) set of articles review various sites related to the New Testament and the life of Jesus:
Ein Kerem (“spring of the vineyard” in Hebrew) is a small pastoral village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. Watered by a perennial spring, this green valley was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period. Ein-Kerem may be the same place as “Beth-Hakerem” (“The house of the vineyard”) mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Jeremiah states that fire [...]
The Biblical city of Beth Lechem (Bethlehem) is located about 5 km south of Jerusalem, along the Judean mountain highway to Hebron and the Be’er Sheva valley. Before the time of David (ca 1000 BCE) the Bible gives only a little information on Bethlehem. Rachel, Jacob’s wife, died and was buried near Bethlehem (Gen 35:19); A prophet called Ibzan lived in Bethlehem (Judges 12:8); and a “young man” from Bethlehem became a priest for a [...]
Nestling on the western slopes of the lower Galilee mountain range, Nazareth was a small village from the Canaanite down to the Roman periods. Although the view from the southern edge of the village is excellent and would have enabled its citizens to monitor the important roads in the Jezreel valley, Nazareth did not develop in antiquity as a strategic military [...]
The first recorded miracle of Jesus took place in the village of Cana (John 2:11). Jesus, his mother and his disciples attended a wedding, but the wine was all gone before the celebrations concluded. To the amazement of both host and guests, Jesus made water, stored in six stone jars, into wine. Jesus performed another miracle at Cana, when [...]
Capernaum is today a site of antiquities on the northwestern short of the Sea of Galilee, along the road connecting the Golan Heights and the Galilee. Capernaum means “the village of Nahum”, although it is not known to after which Nahum is the village named. Capernaum owes its fame to Jesus, who left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum after his baptism (Matt 4:12). Why [...]
The messianic activity ofJesus begins only after been baptized by John the Baptist. According to Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist was preaching in the Judean desert when Jesus came to him, yet John baptized him in the Jordan river (Matt 3:1,6). That means the baptismal site has to be close to the Judean desert. [...]
After his Baptism Jesus went into the wilderness where he fasted for forty days, and Satan tempted him in various ways at a few sites. Can these sites be identified today? The Pinnacle of the Temple First, Satan urged him to turn a stone into bread, to which Jesus replied by quoting from the Old Testament: “Man [...]
The Gospel of John is known for its unique narrative. John mentions several events and places that are not referred to in Matthew, Mark or Luke. This report is devoted to a site mentioned only in John, chapter 4: “Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground [...]
Decapolis is an ancient term used to describe a group of supposedly ten cities that co-existed during the Roman period. Eight were located on the eastern side of the River Jordan, one was in northern Israel and one in Syria. Despite the term “Decapolis” (Greek: deka, ten; polis, city), the number of cities in this treaty is actually uncertain. The Roman [...]
About 4.5 km north of Tiberias, at the junction with a road coming down from Nazareth, are the remains of the Arab village called “Majdala”. This village was settled by Egyptian farmers in the 19th century and was abandoned in 1948, but its name preserves the ancient name of the site – Magdala. Ancient Magdala is famous in Christian [...]
(For the section on the Nain church jump to 2:08) An event that is documented only in the Gospel of Luke (7:11-17) presents a truly miraculous event performed by Jesus. After healing the centurion’s Servant (or one of the king’s men, in the version of John’s gospel), Jesus and his disciples are recorded as visiting Nain. There [...]
The Mountain of the Beatitudes got its name from the event documented in Matthew 5: “Now when he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [...]
Kursi is a picturesque site on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, maintained today by the Israel Nature Parks Authority. It was discovered by chance after the Six Day War (June 1967). After the war a plan to construct a road on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee was executed, but as the tractors were clearing [...]
After giving the “Sermon on the Mount” and performing the “Swine Miracle” all the synoptic Gospels describe how Jesus returns to Capernaum for some unknown time, and performs various acts. According to Luke he then heals an ill woman, and brings back to life the daughter of Yair, “head of the Synagogue” at Capernaum (Luke 8:40-56). At this stage [...]
Two miles west of Capernaum lies a site known in Arabic as “Tabgha”. The name is a distortion of the ancient name of the place in Greek “Heptapegon” or “Seven springs”. Indeed a set of springs emerge in this area, attracting fish, and fishermen, throughout the centuries. Yet today the site is far more known than a [...]
“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesareth and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went – into villages, towns or countryside – they placed the sick [...]
They Came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, [...]
Most of the sites in this series are places mentioned in the Gospels which were later developed as Holy Christian sites, and are venerated by pilgrims to this day. But Luke 10:13-16 (cf. Mat 11:20-24) records a surprisingly negative statement made by Jesus on some of these sites: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if [...]
Located forty kilometers (25 miles) north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mt Hermon, Caesarea-Philippi is the location of one of the largest springs feeding theJordan River. It is also situated along the “Via Maris”, the international road that connected Egypt and Mesopotamia. The site may have been a cultic centre already in the Canaanite period, [...]
Mount Tabor is an impressive dome shaped mountain in the eastern lower Galilee. It rises 400m above its surroundings, and is 562m above sea level. Mount Tabor is located not far from Nazareth, on the side of the main road leading from the coastal plain to the Sea of Galilee. Its unique shape captured the imagination of ancient people who attributed to the [...]
“Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.” (John 6:23) Tiberias was founded by Herod Antipas around 20 CE, about a decade before Jesus started his public ministry. It was named “Tiberias” in honor of the emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD). Although mentioned [...]
Located six km north-northwest of Nazareth, Sepphoris was an urban center in Galilee in the Roman and Byzantine periods. Under Roman rule Sepphoris became the capital of the region, and until Herod Antipas moved to his new capital city Tiberias, he lived in Sepphoris. During the late Roman period the city was also known by other names such [...]
Located twelve kilometers North west of the Dead Sea and nine kilometers west of the Jordan river, Jericho holds two world records: it is the lowest city on earth, and it is also the oldest fortified site on earth. Its unique topographical location derives from its proximity to the Dead Sea, which is 422 meters below sea level. The city itself is [...]
In Luke 10 Jesus is challenged with a question – What is needed to inherit eternal life? Part of his answer quotes Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But this it followed with a parable. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat [...]
Bethphage, “house of the unripe figs” in Aramaic, is mentioned in the synoptic Gospels as the site where Jesus, before entering Jerusalem, sends his disciples to look for a donkey and a colt upon which he enters the capital city: “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two [...]
Bethany was a Jewish village, three kilometers east of Jerusalem according to John 11:18. In the Greco-Roman times it was also known by the names Beth-hini, and Beth-Ania. The name is perhaps derived from the Aramaic word Ania, which means ‘poor’, or the village may have been part of a plot belonging to a man named Ania. But Bethany is known mostly by the [...]
Reputed to be the Holiest city in land of Israel, and perhaps in the whole world, Jerusalem is sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. The holiest mountain in Jerusalem is undoubtedly the Temple Mount. By Jewish tradition the Temple Mount is where “the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). It is also where Abraham bound Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-19). The Book [...]
Before entering Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus sent his disciples to look for a donkey and a colt to ride upon. The Gospel of Luke adds that just before his entrance, Jesus saw the city of Jerusalem, and lamented its future destruction: As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and [...]
The Jewish Temple, reviewed in the previous post ( #30), was also a major economical centre. By Jewish law, as commanded in the Bible itself (Exodus 30:13; 38:25), every male Jew over the age of 20 had to give an annual contribution to the temple, of “half a shekel”. A shekel was equated in the [...]
The Gospel of John records several events in the life of Jesus that are not documented in the other Gospels. The wedding in Cana is one example (John 2, see report #4). During his stay in Jerusalem, the Gospel of John records Jesus healing a person, at a site called Bethesda: “Some time later, Jesus [...]
The “Pool of Siloam” is a rock-cut pool located at the southern end of the City of David (Biblical Jerusalem). The water in the pool comes from the Gihon Spring via a 533 meter-long tunnel, known also at “Hezekiah’s Tunnel”. Not much is known about the pool from the Old Testament, but it was one [...]
One of the most formative events in Christianity documented by the New Testament is the ceremonial meal Jesus and his disciples conduct on the eve of Passover in Jerusalem. During that feast Jesus declared over the unleavened bread, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26) and when drinking the wine, he said, “Drink [...]
According to the Gospel of John of John, after the Last Supper Jesus and the disciples went into “a garden” which was “across the Kidron Valley”. (John 18:1). Matthew (26:36)and Mark (14:32) name the place – “Gethsemane”. Gethsemane means “[olive] oil press”. The presence of an olive press across the Kidron Valley is not surprising. [...]
A video on Saint Onophorius monastery at Akeldama site. The last report dealt with Gethsemane, the place where Jesus was captured and led away to his trial and crucifixion. According to the Gospels his arrest was made possible by the betrayal of one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. The Gospel of Matthew records the remorse [...]
Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus (Luke 6:16). The meaning of his surname is unclear. Most believe that, similar to Mary Magdalene which meant ‘Mary from Migdal’, Iscariot meant Judas was a ‘man from Cariot’. A place called “Cariot” or “Craiot” is mentioned in the Old Testament in Joshua 15:25, [...]
Once captured, all Gospels record that Jesus was questioned by the High Priest. Two of the Gospels (Matthew and John), mention the high priest by name – Caiaphas. From Josephus we know that the full name of Caiaphas was Joseph Caiaphas (Antiquities of the Jews, 18.2.2/35; 18.4.3/95), and that apparently he was in seat between [...]