sample 10-day, standard tour
"go march around zion, encircle her, count her towers..." Psalms 48:12
Today is your day of travel and airport transitions. It may be lengthy, but be of good cheer for you’re headed to the Land of Promise! We are confident that God will meet you in Israel when you arrive!
You’ve made it! It’s likely sometime in the afternoon and you just landed in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Are you ready for the greatest trip of your life? After passport and customs formalities, you’ll greet your local guide, and maybe even one of our local RUH team leaders. From the airport, we’ll head over to the hotel. You’ll be able to ask any questions, change currency, and enjoy the comforts of a nice bed. But before you head off to your room, we’ll hand you some touring materials (maps, highlighters, books, etc.). We’ll also have a brief time of prayer and fellowship. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
The term Jerusalem Approaches refers to the different ways in which the ancients approached the city of Jerusalem. We’ll begin our day on the crest of the Judean high hill country at Nabi Samuel. This crusader fortress boasts of some of the most spectacular geographical features in approaching Jerusalem from the west. It will help us understand why the peace treaty between Joshua and the Gibeonites was so important. From here, we’ll continue our drive towards the Old City of Jerusalem and briefly park on Mount Scopus (home of today’s Hebrew University). From this ridge, we’ll have a look at the northern approach to Jerusalem, and why so many empires attacked Jerusalem from the north. Just one minute down the road, and we’ll also get an opportunity to look at the Judean wilderness from afar. We’ll see why Moses said, “go up to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). We’ll remain on that mountain ridge and head over to the famous Mount of Olives for another Bible story. After lunch, will finish our day of touring by looking at the southern approach to Jerusalem from the city of Bethlehem. We are going to want to leave some time open in our schedule, so we can join the messianic congregation at King of Kings Jerusalem, for a night of praise and worship!
When it comes to touring Jerusalem there is no easy approach! Today’s Old City of Jerusalem is modern, and it is filled with cars, peoples, and businesses. It takes a good guide and a good imagination to help people get into the Jerusalem of the past. We’ll begin the day entering the Old City of Jerusalem from its Western Hill. We call it the Western Hill because it was not a part of Solomon or David’s original city, but it was very much a part of Yesua’s Jerusalem. We’ll go through various sites along the Western Hill, touching upon stories from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Our goal for the day we’ll be to get an accurate picture of the Western Hill from many different angles. We’ll visit Caiaphas’ palace, the Western/Wailing Wall, and the Place of the Skull (in Aramaic Golgotha). It will be a day filled with walking, so be ready to put your legs to work.
Two of the most basic features of Jerusalem are its hills and valleys. Jerusalem is made up of two hills (Western and Eastern) and three valleys (Hinnom, Tyropeon, and Kidron). Sadly, many people visit Jerusalem without truly understanding how the hills and valleys impacted settlement at almost every stage of history. Today, we’ll break down the Eastern Hill of Jerusalem with all its intricacies and delights. The Eastern Hill can be broken up into two parts: Eastern Northern, which is the area of the Temple Mount; and Eastern Southern, which is the ancient City of David. We’ll get the opportunity to visit the area around the Temple Mount, and we’ll also explore the City of David from the famous site of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Our goal for the day will be to bring clarity to what we learned of the Western Hill, and then try to put the whole picture of Jerusalem together.
Today, we’ll set out early in the morning for a long drive north to the Sea of Galilee. We’ll enter the Galilee region via the Rift Valley, stopping at the fabulous site of Bet Shean. From the ancient Egyptian dynasties through many biblical texts, Bet Shean has played an important role throughout history because of its strategic location. Today, some of the most spectacular ruins of the Roman Empire’s former glory can still be seen at Bet Shean. From there, we’ll make our way up to Mt. Arbel and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee from on high. Our final stop (if time permits) will be at Capernaum. Capernaum is home to one of the oldest synagogues in Israel, which many believe lay on top of the foundations of a synagogue that Yesua would have frequented. From here, we’ll check into our hotel and enjoy an evening along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
It’s not too rare, but only a few tours actually make it beyond the Galilee up to the northern borders of Israel. Today’s tour will embark on the quest of understanding ancient Israel’s northern borders. The day will begin with a look at a modern Israeli northern border from Mt. Bental. The mountain overlooks the country of Syria. With the help of some binoculars, one can still see a modern city inside of Syria that was left abandoned because of the conflicts between Syria and Israel. The biblical picture here is Bashan, which Moses had conquered prior to passing leadership over to Joshua. From Mt. Bental, we’ll make our way over to the northern strongholds of Nimrod’s Fortress, Caesarea Philippi (Banias), and Tel-Dan. All three of these sites worked very similarly at different periods of history. If time permits, we’ll also visit the ancient site of Hazor. Hazor was a Canaanite stronghold and the final line of defense against any northern invasion. Throughout the biblical period, Hazor has always been a strategic northern city.
Today’s morning will offer you a life-changing moment! Today will be the day we get to immerse (baptize) in the Jordan River. The idea here is not a renewal, but a broken and contrite heart coming to God for cleansing. We’ll spend the early hours of the morning at an old abandoned bridge off the side of the road, which leads to a fast moving section of the Jordan River. It’s not the nicest place to visit, but the waters in this area are always moving, so it is a bit cleaner in the river. Following mikvaot (baptisms), we’ll continue our journey towards the Mediterranean coast. Our first stop will be on the eastern shores of the biblical Decapolis, where Yesua commanded a legion of demons to enter some nearby swine (Matthew 8:28-34). Our next stop will be on the hills of Mt. Carmel, somewhere within the vicinity where the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:19). And we’ll end our day at the beautiful port city of Caesarea, where the Gentiles first came into the kingdom (Acts 10). From here, we’ll make our long drive back towards Jerusalem and prepare for the Sabbath.
As is custom in Israel, we will enjoy God’s beautiful gift to mankind and rest, rejuvenate, refresh, and honor this sacred day (Exodus 20:8-11). You’ll be given a day to hang out in your rooms, sleep in, journal, and/or take a walk around your hotel.
The Bible gives the inheritance of Judah quite the piece of land. The territory is so big that we need two days to explore. Another way of referring to eastern Judah is by calling it the Dead Sea region. The Dead Sea day is a must for any visitor to Israel. We’ll begin our day on the strongholds of Masada, where tradition has the Jewish zealots taking their last stand against the mighty Roman Empire in AD 73. From Masada, we’ll work our way north to Ein Gedi, one of the most beautiful nature reserve parks in all of Israel. At Ein Gedi, you’ll be given the opportunity to take the enjoyable hike through the hills to David’s Waterfall (about 45 minutes round trip). Eventually, we’ll make our way to Kalya Beach, where the group will have an opportunity to take a dip in the famous Dead Sea.
On our second day of exploring the inheritance of Judah, we’ll take a look at the land from its western end. Our day will begin at Tel-Gezer, an ancient tel that served as key city guarding the international coastal highway, as well as the front door into Jerusalem. From here, we’ll follow what some call the Diagonal Road. This ancient path crosses all the vital valleys and corridors of the Shephelah (or Via Maris or Lowlands). On these corridors were important cities that, depending on who you were and which way you were going, controlled access east and west. We see several biblical stories unfold along this line of travel. We’ll meet Samson’s hometown of Zorah, from the ancient Canaanite city of Bet Shemesh. And from there, we’ll head over to the ancient battlefield where a young Israelite shepherd took on a Goliath from Gath.
Today we say goodbye! We’ll jump on our shuttle and head back to the airport in Tel-Aviv, Israel. We’ll not only have lasting memories that will be foundational for continued spiritual formation, but we’ll also have a direct connection with a local ministry that is reaching Israel and its peoples with the gospel. Therefore, we will always have the opportunity to be a blessing to God’s chosen land!