Our tour today focuses on the Territories of the West Bank. We will be visiting two sites which are well known in the Bible, Jericho and Bethlehem. Located in the Jordan Valley, Jericho is one of the continuously inhabited settlements in the world and the site of the famous 7-day battle under the command of Joshua. We will view the ruins of the city, including the wall.
Next we will enjoy camel rides and explore and shop in the local market. From there, we will travel to Bethlehem which is rich in biblical history documented in both the Old and New Testaments. It is identified as the hometown of David where he was also crowned King of Israel.
In the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke record the birth of Jesus. We will visit the Church of the Nativity which is considered the oldest surviving church in the Land. The focal point is the Grotto of the Nativity which is a rectangular cave beneath the Church and believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. From there, we will go to the Shepherd’s Field where the angels appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of the Messiah.
We will be visiting a few outstanding museums in Jerusalem. Our first destination is the Friends of Zion Museum in downtown Jerusalem. Through ground-breaking interactive technology, you will explore the stories of heroic Jewish people from biblical era through contemporary leaders who have changed the world.
Highlights of our next stop are the large Model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple period which replicates the City at the time of Jesus. The 1:50 scale model is based on the writings of historian Josephus and includes a replica of the Herodian Temple. The Shrine of the Book complex is also at this location and was built as the repository for the first seven Dead Sea scrolls discovered in Qumran. Viewing the remnants of 2000 year old biblical scrolls is a profound experience. Other exhibits highlight remarkable archaeological finds which further explain Jewish history.
At the end of our day, we will visit the World Holocaust Remembrance Center revealing the tragic events of extermination of over 6 million Jews in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. While walking through the different galleries, the time period is unfolded before you through displays of artifacts, films, art, personal correspondence and much more. Your heart will be touched as you stand in the Hall of Names and walk through the Children’s Memorial. The famed Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations is a beautifully serene area of remembrance.
Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem
This morning we will check out of the hotel and bring all belongings with us as our final destination will be Ben Gurion Airport. Prior to saying our farewells; however, we have a few more interesting Christian sites to explore!
Our first stop will be Nebi Samuel National Park which is north of Jerusalem and the traditional burial place of the Prophet Samuel. Situated atop of a hill, this site is considered holy to both Jewish and Islamic faiths. There is a mosque built over the site of a prior Crusader fortress with the tomb and small synagogue located underground.
From there, we will drive to the excavation of the village of Emmaus mentioned in the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel as the location where Jesus appeared after His death and resurrection. In this account, Jesus walked and talked with two of his disciples which were prevented from recognizing Him until He broke bread with them and then disappeared.
If time permits, we will move on the to Elah Valley in the Judean Mountains. Here, we will see a stunning panoramic view of the location where Saul and the men of Israel gathered for battle with the Philistines. The miraculous slaying of Goliath of Gath by David the shepherd boy armed with a sling and a stone is recorded in I Samuel 17.
(At this point, our tour is concluded and we will proceed directly to Ben Gurion Airport for departure. Shalom!)