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Tour Details

Itinerary

Notes:

  1. The tour begins in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 and concludes in Tel Aviv, Israel on Monday, May 15. One certainty about international travel is that the best laid plans need to adapt to changing realities.The following represents current plans, with the recognition that aspects will evolve along the way.
  2. One certainty about international travel is that even best laid plans need to adapt to changing realities. The following represents current plans, with the recognition that aspects will evolve along the way.  Since local speakers will can only be confirmed shortly before the tour, change is most likely in that part of the itinerary.
  3. The tour is available to all who are physically fit and willing to be on their feet a good part of the day. Most days will include a considerable amount of walking each day.
  4. The schedule will be quite full, with activities planned most days from breakfast to dinner.  Conversation with the group may adjust how we handle the activity—relaxation balance.
 

Wednesday, April 26 – Day 1: arrival in Amman, Jordan

Depending upon arrival time, a friendly guide and van will meet people upon arrival at the Queen Alia Airport outside of Amman, Jordan. After settling in our hotel in Amman (Century Park Hotel) we will have some time to relax and rest. We will gather in the evening to get to know each other, and perhaps to be welcomed to the country by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representative. We will also invite a local person to give us an introduction to the political, social and economic realities of Jordan.

Thursday, April 27 – Day 2: travel to Petra

In the morning we will receive an introduction to the work of Mennonite Central Committee in Jordan. This will likely include visiting some of its projects and/or partners (e.g., Syrian and Iraqi refugee centre).

 After lunch we head south through the beautiful Jordan countryside towards Petra. Along the way we will stop at Mount Nebo (the location from which tradition has it Moses viewed the Promised Land, and then died). Here we receive our first view of the land of Biblical Israel. In the 4th century already a church was built here to commemorate the site.  After some centuries of neglect the Franciscans excavated and restored the site, uncovering a mosaic dating back to 531 CE. Time permitting, we will also visit Madaba where a strong Greek Orthodox community traces its history back to the 4th century. The Byzantine Greek Orthodox church of Saint George includes a floor mosaic which is the earliest map of the Holy Land. 

Our lodging for the next two nights is at the Marriott Hotel in Petra, near Wadi Mousa. The hotel is unusual in that it is in a restored old village. Wadi Mousa is the site commemorating Moses striking the rock to get water. The highest mountain in this region is Jebal Haroun where tradition has it Aaron was buried. Either tonight or tomorrow evening we will gather for a presentation introducing the key terms, groups and events of the Israel/Palestine of today.

Friday, April 28 – Day 3: Petra

Roughly three centuries before the time of Christ the Nabataeans carved out their rock city capital in the desert area south east of the Dead Sea. The site was largely unknown to the western world until it was rediscovered in 1812. In 1985 Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The day will be spent walking through and around the site, sometimes called Rose City due to the spectacular colour of the rock out of which it is carved. The day will involve considerable walking, so the evening will be a relaxing one at the hotel, by the pool or in your rooms (some may even choose to have a massage in the hotel).

Satuday, April 29 – Day 4: travel to Jerusalem

After breakfast we head back north, on our way towards Jerusalem. We will cross the Jordan at the Allenby Bridge (or King Hussein Bridge in Jordan), the primary entrance and exit into the West Bank for Palestinians. Since this is a Saturday we will want to arrive relatively early.

After passing through customs we will stop at the ancient site of Bethany the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Next to the church is a cave which is the traditional location of Lazarus’ tomb. After leaving Bethany we will catch our first view of Jerusalem, the city so important to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Golden Walls–Tulip Inn, with a marvelous view of Damascus Gate, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the local food and fruit vendors just outside, will be our home for the next 7 nights.

In the evening we will have a presentation on the presence and role of the different churches of Israel/Palestine. The presenter may be Father McDougall, Rector of Tantur, an academic library and research centre owned by Notre Dame University, located half way between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Perhaps we will even be able to have the presentation at Tantur.

Sunday, April 30 – Day 5: Jerusalem

It is only appropriate that on our first Sunday in the Holy Land we join in worship with some local Christians. We will worship at the Melchite Greek Catholic Church, a church with eastern or orthodox traditions but part of the Roman Catholic church. This is the body of which Father Chacour was the Archbishop until recently.   It is located in the old city of Jerusalem, and thus within comfortable walking distance of our hotel.

After a leisurely lunch in a small traditional restaurant in the old city (shawarma and falafal?), we will walk to the Tower of David Museum near the Jaffa Gate where the history of Jerusalem is surveyed in dramatic fashion. Recent finds have suggested this may be the location where Jesus’ trial took place. Before supper we will get on the bus and travel to Canada Park, a 700 hectare park maintained by the Jewish National Fund of Canada on lands of three Palestinian villages destroyed in 1967. Our tour of Canada Park will be led by Zochrot, an organization dedicated to retaining a memory of the Nakba, and the Palestinian villages destroyed by it.

Before having dinner at our hotel we will visit the Kehilat Kol Haneshema synagogue, one of the few reformed synagogues in Israel. Here the congregation’s founder and leader is Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kolman will share his perspective on the current conflict. He is very much shaped by his being a committed Zionist, and at the same time, co-founder of Rabbis for Human Rights. A word of advice he gives: “The most unhelpful thing you can do is to choose sides and demonize the other group. That simply reinforces the sense of victimhood and fails to recognize the common humanity we share.”

Monday, May 1 – Day 6: Mount of Olives, Kidron Valley, the old city (Jerusalem)

The Mount of Olives provides a panoramic view of the old city, across the Kidron Valley, across an ancient cemetery. Here Jesus taught his disciples; here he wept over Jerusalem; and here in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed on the night he was betrayed by Judas (Mark 14:32-42).

The historic significance of the Mount of Olives is reflected in the number of churches that have been built on the Mount, including the Church of All Nations (an ecumenical church commemorating where Jesus prayed before his arrest), the Church of the Ascension (commemorating from where Jesus ascended into heaven), and the Church of the Pater Noster (commemorating where Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer—hung on the wall are plaques with the Lord’s Prayer on them in over 100 different languages, including Low German).

We will then walk across the Kidron Valley to the old city of Jerusalem, passing near Bethany and Bethphage (the “passion route”). We may see some remains of the Antonia Fortress, constructed by Herod the Great around 19 BCE.  From here Titus directed his troops as they viciously destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE.  It is also possible that Jesus’ trial took place here.

After entering the old city through the Sheep Gate (also called the Lions Gate, or St. Stephen’s Gate) we come to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the man who had been bedridden for years. Nearby is the Church of St. Anne (with its amazing acoustics!) constructed in the 12th century over the site of a grotto believed by the Crusaders to be the birthplace of Anne, the mother of Mary. Nearby begins the Via Dolorosa (literally “Way of Sorrows, commonly known as the stations of the cross), which leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (or Church of the Resurrection). This has been a pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century as the purported site of Golgotha, Jesus` tomb and site of his resurrection. Constantine`s mother, Helena, directed the construction of the first church on this site. The church remains home to a number of major Christian traditions, and is the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.  

On this day we also experience our first view of the Wailing Wall (or Western Wall), that most holy site on the side of the Temple Mount.

Tuesday, May 2 – Day 7: Rural ancient Istrael (Jerusalem)

The full day is devoted to touring the heart of Old Testament country north of Jerusalem, the area significant for early Israel, as well as for the Northern Kingdom during its height. This area north of Jerusalem is region of the Old Testament sites of Bethel, Ai, and Shiloh, although little or nothing remains of these sites, with even their exact locations disputed.

A key location is ancient Shechem (contemporary Nablus). It was already a Canaanite settlement prior to the time of Old Testament Israel.  Abraham spent time here, with this being the traditional location of Jacob’s Well (Gen. 33:18-19; 34:2) as well as Joseph’s Tomb. Outside of Shechem are Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. According to Deuteronomy, Israel renewed its covenant with Yahweh at this location, with six tribes on one mount, and six on the other, speaking responsively to each other. Mount Gerizim also is the ancient and contemporary home of the Samaritan community (ca. 500-1,000 members), the only remaining descendants of the New Testament Samaritans. Here they carry on the traditions of their ancestors, including a sacrificial system.  We may also have time to visit the Nablus Market, a traditional Palestinian market.

Samaria (or Sabattya), is an important site, with remains both from Old Testament times when it was the capital of the Northern Kingdom (there is some evidence of the remains of the royal palaces of Omri and Ahab), and New Testament times and later when it was a significant Roman city. If time permits we will also visit Taybeh, one of the last Christian Palestinian villages. Located here is the Parable House, a typical ancient Palestinian home, a “peace lamp” factory,  and the Taybeh Brewing Company where Palestinian beer is brewed.

Wednesday, May 3 – Day 8: Temple Mount, excavations on South Wall (Jerusalem)

We return to the most historic part of the old city for a further day. The Western Wall Tunnel is located under the buildings of Old Jerusalem, and allows one to see more of the wall. The Western Wall is thought to be a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard, and arguably the most sacred site for the Jewish community outside of the Temple Mount itself. It dates from the end of the Second Temple period, commonly believed to have been constructed by Herod the Great shortly before the time of Christ. Jews from around the world come here to pray, with many placing their prayers in cracks in the wall.

Although disputed, the Temple Mount is often identified with Biblical Mount Moriah, where Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac, as well as Mount Zion where the original Jebusite fortress stood which David conquered when he made Jerusalem his capital. Judaism considers the Temple Mount to be the place chosen by God for his Divine Presence, and where Solomon then built the first Temple (ca. 950 BCE), and Zerubbabel the second (ca. 515 BCE). This second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD after Herod the Great had made extensive renovations. Many Jews continue to long for building a third temple on this site.

At the same time, however, the Temple Mount is also a sacred site for the Muslim community, some of whom consider it to be the third most sacred site in their tradition. The Temple Mount has been controlled continuously by the Muslims since their reconquest of the area in the 12th century. The Jewish Knesset enforces a ban on all non-Muslim prayer on the Mount. Two buildings dominate the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock, with its magnificent gold dome, was originally constructed in the late 7th century, supposedly on the spot where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Next to it is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, first built in the 8th century, with the current structure dating back to the 11th century.

The area south of the Temple Mount is rich in archaeological remains. Here we see the Southern Steps which probably led to the main entrance of the Temple Mount. If there is any place in Jerusalem where one can with some confidence say that “Christ walked here,” it would probably be on these steps. Here we will also see other remains dating back to the time of Herod, including a 1st century street, and the Huldah Gates.

Just a little further south are the City of David excavations where David originally set up his capital after capturing the city from the Jebusites. Remains from houses going well into the time of the monarchy have been discovered.

Depending on time, we will also visit the Israel Museum. Located in the museum is an amazing model of the second temple. The Shrine of the Book is a wing of the museum where many of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be seen and explored.

Thursday, May 4 – Day 9: Israel Today (Jerusalem)

After spending a day focused on ancient Jerusalem, we shift to considering events and developments in modern day Israel. No event is as critical in shaping contemporary Israeli and Jewish identity as the Holocaust. Children and young people are systematically taught the significance of this event. Yad Vasehm is Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The modern state of Israel was established by the United Nations in 1948 following the horrific tragedy depicted here. We begin the day with a visit to Yah Vashem. This is part of the city is also where the Israeli government buildings, and Knesset (Israeli government) are located.  

After some free time for lunch and relaxing, or wandering through the Rockefeller Museum near our hotel, we will drive to Ramallah a few miles north of Jerusalem. This is the capital of the Palestinian Authority, the location of Yassar Arafat’s tomb, and the location of a Friends Meeting House which has served in the region for many years. Jean Zaru, a Palestinian Quaker, author and leader of the Friends Meeting House will speak to us about the Quaker presence in and contribution to the region. Sam Bahour, a Palestinian American entrepreneur in Ramallah will give us some insight into the challenges of being an businessman in Palestine.

Friday, May 5 – Day 10: (Jerusalem)

Today is our last night in the city of Jerusalem, “the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths, the prize of empires.” We begin our day with a visit to the Garden Tomb site located right next to our hotel. This is a quiet place preserved to remember the death of Jesus. Next we visit the headquarters of Sabeel (Founding Director is Naim Ateek) where we hope to hear from Cedar Duaybis, an eloquent speaker and author, as well as a founding member of Sabeel. 

During the first part of the afternoon  we will walk in old Jerusalem, visiting sites like the Dormitian Abbey, David’s Tomb, and the Room of the Last Supper. The rest of the afternoon is free for wandering the streets of Jerusalem one last time. Or tour participants can visit some site in Jerusalem not on the tour itself (e.g., (The American Colony Hotel with a history going back to the beginning of the 20th century? The King David Hotel bombed in 1946? The Bible Lands Museum? St. George’s Cathedral? The Knesset?). 

In the evening we will worship in a local conservative synagogue, and then participate in the ceremonial Sabbath meal in Jewish homes.

Saturday, May 6 – Day 11: Shepherds’ fields (Bethlehem)

After a week in the region of Jerusalem we head south to Bethlehem. Bethlehem may be only a few miles south of Jerusalem, but it is on the other side of the separation wall. Bethlehem continues to be home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. In the centre of Bethlehem, at the site where Jesus supposedly was born, is the Church of the Nativity. The church was originally commissioned by Constantine and his mother, Helena, ca. 327, and is considered to be the oldest continuously operating Christian church in the world. The current building was constructed in the 6th century, although has had considerable renovation since. Next to the church is Manger Square.

On the way to Bethlehem we will visit the so called Shepherd’s Fields, as well as the Herodium. The contrast between shepherds and kings becomes clear as we visit the Herodium, a volcano-like hill constructed as a palace and fortress by Herod the Great. In 2007 Hebrew University announced that the long search for Herod’s tomb had ended with the exposure of his grave on the slope of the Herodium. Along the way we will view the hills around Amos’ hometown of Tekoa (Amos 1:1).

A further 10 miles south or so is Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. According to Genesis 23 Abraham purchased a Cave at Machpelah for his and Sarah’s burial. Later it became the burial site for the other patriarchs and matriarchs. The Tomb of the Patriarchs, constructed over the supposed site of the cave, is the second holiest place for the Jewish people, second only to the Temple Mount. But since Abraham also is important to the Muslims and Christians, Hebron plays a significant role for those traditions as well.

For night we return to Bethlehem, to the Casa Nova, a guesthouse hotel operated by the Franciscans near Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, our home for the next three nights.

Sunday, May 7 – Day 12: Worship and visit in Palestinian home (Bethlehem)

Morning worship will be with the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, within walking distance of our hotel. In the afternoon we will visit the Nassar family farm (also known as Tent of Nations) surrounded by Jewish settlements not far from Bethlehem.  Here we will hear of the challenges of Palestinian landowners.  We will also attempt to have a conversation with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, author and pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran church. A recent book of his is called Faith in the Face of Empire.

Monday, May 8 – Day 13: Social Justice Agencies, and Settlements (Bethlehem)

We open the day with a visit to Wi’am, a Palestinian Conflict and Resolution Centre located next to the Separation Wall. Its director, Zoughbi Zoughbi is committed to finding peaceful responses to the turmoil.  After interacting with him we will walk to Bethlehem Bible College, first to hear of its important role and contribution to the Palestinian Christian community of the region, and then to have lunch.

After lunch we will receive an introduction to the Jewish settlements (perhaps led by Daniell Seidemann), climaxing in a tour of the Efrat Settlement. Here we will pause and have some conversation with residents on their perspective on Jewish settlements.

Tuesday, May 9 – Day 14: Jericho

Mennonite Central Committee has been active in the region since the early days of Israel, becoming one of the older and well known NGOs of the region. Before leaving this part of Israel/Palestine we will hear about its work, perhaps including a visit to the Dheisheh Refugee Camp where Palestinians have been living since 1948.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho, made famous by the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), although only covering a distance of some 18 miles, takes one from Jerusalem`s height of ca. 2,500 feet above sea level to some 800 feet below sea level, and the Jordan River rift. Along the way we will stop in the Wadi Kelt, a well-known seasonal stream bed. Constructed on a cliff wall in the wadi is St. George’s Monastery with a history going back to the 4th century. The hike to the monastery is a bit of a challenge, but the views are wonderful. 

Modern Jericho is an Arab community situated on the west side of the Jordan, thought to be the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth. Due to its elevation, warm weather, and springs it serves as the winter retreat for people from colder climates. It also is an amazing fruit growing region. Of course, it is also the location of “Zacchaeus’ tree.” 

At the same time, Jericho is one of the oldest settlements in the world, possibly going back to before 9,000 BCE. The archaeological site is one of the most famous in the whole region, where the use of modern archaeological techniques in the 1950s impacted the way the history of Israel was understood. Nearby is the Mount of Temptation, with the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation. We will also travel to the Jordan River and the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism.

Lodging for the night two nights has been reserved at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jericho.

Wednesday, May 10 – Day 15: Qumran, the Dead Sea, and Masada (Jericho)

Today we visit Masada, one of the most important sites for contemporary Jewish identity. Herod the Great constructed palaces and fortresses on a high plateau overlooking the Dead Sea between 37 and 31 BCE. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, a group of survivors fled to the fortress at Masada, where the Roman legions placed them under siege two years later.  When the Romans finally succeeded in building a ramp (still visible) up the side and breaking through the walls, they discovered nearly 1,000 Jews had committed mass suicide. The Masada story is used to motivate absolute commitment among Israeli soldiers, with their swearing-in ceremony taking place on Masada, climaxing with the declaration, “Masada shall not fall again.”  We will take a cable car up the side of the hill to tour the site.

The Qumran Community lived on a plateau near Jericho, with the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were accidentally discovered in 1946/47 in the hills behind it. By now nearly 1,000 separate texts have been discovered, with a complete Isaiah scroll the best known (possibly written a century or more before Christ). It is thought these scrolls were hidden in the caves by the community, possibly Essenes, before and during the time of Christ, perhaps to protect them from the Roman invaders who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The Dead Sea (or Salt Sea) lies nearly 1,400 feet below sea level. It is one of the deepest hypersaline lakes in the world (ca. 1,237 ft. deep) and one of the saltiest (ca. 34% salinity). It will likely be quite warm here, perhaps even hot, even though it is November. We will try to provide an opportunity for people to sit in the lake—swimming is not possible, given its high specific gravity. The Dead Sea is not as prominent in the Bible as the Sea of Galilee, but David escaped to this region when running from King Saul. We may have time to stop at Ein Gedi, an oasis and national park associated with David’s escape.

Thursday, May 11 – Day 16: Nazareth region (Tiberius)

Today we head north, to the Galilee, where we will spend most of the day in the Nazareth area. On the way we will stop at the Beth Alpha Synagogue next to an Israeli kibbutz. The synagogue is famous for its extensive floor mosaics, including one of a zodiac wheel.

Nazareth is the largest city in the northern part of Israel, with roughly two thirds of its population Muslim and one third Christian, making it the largest Christian community in the country. The Basilica of the Annunciation commemorates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will become the mother of Jesus.  This is also the community in which Mary, Joseph and Jesus settled after their return from their flight to Egypt.  For lunch we will go to Nazareth Village, an effort to reconstruct a community reflecting the life and times of Jesus.  Although not a Mennonite project, individual Mennonites were quite active in envisioning, designing and operating the project, and Mennonite volunteers have come here to help.

Just a short distance from Nazareth is Sepphoris, a significant Roman centre during the time of Jesus, and possibly Cana. Despite its proximity to Nazareth where Jesus lived, and despite being much larger than Nazareth, it is not mentioned in the New Testament. And yet it was a cosmopolitan city of Jesus’ day with elaborate buildings and beautiful mosaics, including what is known as the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.”

For the next three nights our lodging is in Tiberius, at the Ron Beach Hotel located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Depending on time, we may visit Hamat Tiberius where archaeologists discovered the remains of a synagogue dating back to the last half of the fourth century BCE, which included an elaborate mosaic floor.

Friday, May 12 – Day 17: Sea of Galilee region (Tiberius)

Much of Jesus’ ministry took place in the area around the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum is identified in the New Testament as the home of Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, the tax collector Matthew, as well as Jesus himself. Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, and healed a man who had the spirit of a demon. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two ancient synagogues built one over the other, and of a house sometimes claimed to be the home Peter. The remains of a boat (sometimes called the Sea of Galilee Boat) dates to the first century CE are displayed at the Kibbutz Ginnosar.

The traditional location for the Mount of Beatitudes is on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. A Byzantine Church was erected there in the 4th century, with some remains still visible. A Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1938.  Nearby is Tabgha, a possible site of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes with only five loaves of bread and two fish. A mosaic of bread and fish is found in the Church of the Multiplication. On the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee is Bethsaida, another important location in Jesus’ ministry.

The day will also include a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  

Saturday, May 13 – Day 18: Ibilin, Golan Heights, Dan, Caesarea Philippi (Tiberius)

The day will begin with travel to Kibbutz Lavi near the Sea of Galilee to hear a rabbi share with us about Jewish faith in the 21st century. Depending on availability, we may also travel to Ibillin to visit the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (including elementary and secondary schools) and hear Elias Chacour (author of Blood Brothers, until recently the Archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church) share from his personal experiences.

From Ibilim we will travel through northern Galilee, up to the Golan Heights.  In this region there are numerous Druze villages. The Druze are a small minority in the region, as an Abrahamic faith which has incorporated elements from a variety of other religions. During this drive we may see Mount Hermon in the distance where the Israeli controlled Golan Heights meet Lebanon and Syria.

In the far north of Galilee are Caesarea Philippi (Banyas) and Dan.  Caesarea Philippi is where Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:13-28). Today the city is no longer inhabited, but remains an important archaeological site.  In the Old Testament Dan frequently represented the northern boundary of Israel, as in the phrase, “from Dan to Beersheba.” Here Jeroboam set up one of the two golden calves to compete with the temple in Jerusalem. It is located at the head of the Jordan River. In 1993 an inscribed stone was discovered here on which an unnamed king (perhaps Hazael of Aram/Syria) boasts of having defeated the king of Israel and his ally the king of the House of David, the first time the name of King David has been found outside of the Bible. Perhaps there will be time for a hike at either Dan or Caesarea Philippi, both located in scenic settings. 

Sunday, May 14 – Day 19: Galilee and coastal region (Tel Aviv)

Today we make our way back south, only not along the Jordan rift but this time along the coastal route, the ancient trade route through the region. But before we get to the coast, we visit the site of Migiddo and Mount Carmal. Megiddo, strategically located at the head of a pass overlooking the Jezreel Valley, was an important city in ancient times, including the time of Israel. Archaeologist have uncovered substantial ruins, probably that of a wall, gate, stables, and grain storage, dated either to the time of King Solomon, or King Ahab. Here Josiah, King of Judah was killed in a battled with the Egyptians (609 BCE). In the New Testament Megiddo (or the Mount of Megiddo, harmegiddo, or Armageddon) is known from the book of Revelation.

Mount Carmel refers both to a mountain range as well as the most northwestern mountain in the range. Mount Carmel appears to have been a significant “high place” within Canaanite religion, and thus is the site of a major confrontation between Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal.

At the foot of Mount Carmal is the modern Israeli city of Haifa, one of the few significant Israel seaports. Caesarea (or Caesarea Maritima), some 45 km further down the coast, was a major administrative centre for the Romans during the New Testament period, the place from which Pontius Pilot governed the region. Herod the Great dedicated the city to Caesar Augustus, and constructed a deep water seaport, an aqueduct to supply the community with water, and a quite spectacular amphitheatre for Roman games.

Our last night in Israel/Palestine will be at the Metropolitan Hotel in Tel Aviv—a modern, bustling, Israeli city. There will be time in the evening to walk along one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, or perhaps even visit the ancient site of Joppa (today Jaffa), where Peter had his vision of a large sheet filled with animals being lowered from heaven.

Monday, May 15 – Day 20: return home

Our time in Israel/Palestine is over. The bus will transfer us to the nearby Ben Gurion airport, from which we depart for home. After just under three weeks in this historic and contested region, you will never read the Bible or hear the news the same way again!