7 Days – Holy Land Pilgrimage


Fishermen, Shepherds & Farmers

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”   (John 1:1)

How many of us really think about the first people who heard the Word?

Who were they? How did they live? What was the world around them like?

We tend to forget that those who followed Jesus were ‘simple folk’ – fishermen, shepherds, farmers – people of the land, hardworking people. Jesus lived amongst them and most of his time was spent in their company.

The amount of time that Jesus actually devoted to the bustling city of Jerusalem is relatively short in comparison to the amount of time he spent in the pastoral fisherman village of Capernaum – “His Town”. Most of the parables in the bible deal with the world of nature and farming, and in order to more fully comprehend them, we have to understand the natural world and environment that surrounded the people of those times. And indeed, one cannot ignore the geo-political conditions that had a tremendous influence on everyday life and the unfolding of events.

We will take you on a journey into the world of those times. The importance of the livelihood and crops of the people – dates, olives, sheep, fish… will accentuate the ties between the agricultural motifs and the proverbs of the old and new testaments and strengthen your ties to the land and the word.

 ROUTE   DAY 1: Caesarea, Megiddo, Nazareth, Cana 
  • We start our tour with a visit to the National Park of CAESAREA MARITIMA (Caesarea by the Sea) on the shore of the Mediterranean. Known as Herod the Great’s masterpiece, it was the major port in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean during the Roman period and after Herod’s death became the capital of the province of Judea and seat of Roman governors – including Pontius Pilate. Caesarea was home to the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:1), and where Christianity took its first steps of transforming from a small Jewish sect to a universal religion. In the late Roman period, Caesarea became the most important Christian town which produced some of the greatest Christian philosophers, such as Origen, Eusebius and others.
  • Drive northeast along the main highway of the biblical world – Via Maris (Road by the Sea), to MEGIDDO (ARMAGEDDON), one of the key sites to understanding the history of the Middle East. Megiddo was fortified by several Israelite kings including David, Solomon and Ahab and is mentioned a number of times in the Old Testament. According to Christian tradition, its location overlooking the biblical Jezreel Valley will be the battleground between the “Sons of Light” and the “Sons of Darkness”. (Revelation 16:13)
  • Continue north to the Lower Galilee to visit NAZARETH childhood home of Jesus, and the CHURCH of ANNUNCIATION. (Luke 1:26)
  • Stop at MT. PRECIPICE, where the panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley will help you grasp why the Kingdom of Israel was so prosperous and why many of the biblical stories occurred in this region. According to tradition, this is also the site where the Nazarenes drove Jesus away and attempted to throw him off the cliffs. (Luke 4:14 -29)
  • Continue to the neighboring village of CANA, the traditional location of the first miracle performed by Jesus of turning water into wine. (John 2:1)

Overnight in Galilee.

 DAY 2: Sea of Galilee 

  • Visit the sites on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, the stage for most of the events in Jesus’ life.
  • Start the day with a visit to  MAGDALA, the authentic remains of the town of Mary Magdalene. It was  a major commercial center of the lake region in the first century and similar to Capernaum, in that it is also a Jewish fisherman village during the same time period. A hotel , that  stood on this site, was purchased in 2006 by the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem wanting to make a pilgrim center in the Galilee. As they started building plans for a hotel and pilgrim center and developing the site, a first century synagogue were discovered and the site is under archaeological excavation and new artifacts are surfacing daily.(Luke 8:2) 
  • A panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee, from atop MT of BEATITUDES, the traditional site where the Sermon on the Mount took place. (Matthew 5)
  • Descend to the foot of the mountain, on the shore of the lake to visit TABGHA, one of the traditional sites of the ‘miracle of the loaves and the fish’. (Matthew 14:13-29)
  • Visit the CHURCH OF PRIMACY, where Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead and where he asked Peter to replace him as shepherd of his flock. (John 21)
  • Drive to CAPERNAUM, a Jewish fisherman village of 2000 years ago that was the center of Jesus’ messianic work. It was known as “his town” as he spent a substantial part of his life here – healing the sick, preaching in the synagogue and performing miracles. (Matthew 4:12-13)
  • Sail across the SEA of GALILEE to experience the tranquility and scenery little changed during the past 2000 years (sailing, dependent on weather conditions). A demonstration of fishing methods during the time of Jesus will be given. It is also possible to arrange a religious service on the boat.
  • End the day with a visit to the MAN IN THE GALILEE MUSEUM, where the remains of a 27 foot fishing boat, much like those used during the time of Jesus, is on display.

Overnight in Galilee.

 DAY 3: Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights 
  • Start the morning, with a visit to the National Park of BETHSAIDA, home town of Peter, Andrew and Philip.
  • Drive north to the foot of Mt. Hermon, to the National Park of BANIAS, source of the Hermon (Banias) river, one of the three rivers that forms the Jordan river.  Here remains of a temple in honor of the god Pan, date back to the Hellenistic period. Philippus, Herod the Great’s son, added much to this town’s construction and named it CAESAREA PHILLIPI. Jesus took his disciples to this location before his last trip to Jerusalem, revealing his purpose and His Church. It was here too,  that Simon identified Jesus as the messiah and consequently Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (Petrus , in Greek – the rock).  (Matthew 16:13-23)
  • During the crusader period, this site was a major fortress on the border of Damascus between the land of the Christians and the land of the Muslims. A short hike will include a walk along the “Hanging Trail” to  Banias Waterfall.
  • Continue from Banias to the biblical town of TEL DAN, major spring of the Jordan River and one of the capitals of Israel after the division of the kingdom and where Jeroboam built a pagan altar. (1 Kings 12:25)

Overnight in Galilee.

 DAY 4: Zippori, Mt. Tabor, Beit She’an 
  • Drive to the National Park of ZIPPORI (SEPPHORIS) in the Lower Galilee, capital of the Galilee during the time of Jesus and traditional birthplace of Mary, mother of Christ.
  • Drive south to MT. TABOR, traditional site of the ‘transfiguration’. (Matthew 17:1-9)
  • Return east and drive south along the Jordan River to the National Park of BEIT SHE’AN, on the walls of which the Philistines fastened the body of King Saul (1 Samuel 31:12). Located at a crossroads between east and west, the ancient city claims over 20 layers of civilization dating back to the 5th millennium BCE. Ruled by Egyptians, Romans and Byzantines, it has always benefited from its ample water supply, hot climate and fertile soil and as one of Israel’s most ancient cities, it was an affluent cultural center.
  • Continue south along the Jordan Valley to QAS’R AL YAHUD, located on the western bank of the Jordan River about 10km (6 miles) east of Jericho. This is the traditional site where Jacob battled the angel, where the Children of Israel and Joshua crossed into the Holy Land and conquered Jericho, and where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
  • Turn west at the north end of the Dead Sea and ascend the Judean mountains to JERUSALEM.

Overnight in Jerusalem.

 DAY 5: Jerusalem 
  • After breakfast, drive to the MT. OF OLIVES, where over 4000 years of history unravels before you. From atop the mountain, with the panorama of Jerusalem at your fingertips, an overview of the geography and biblical and political situation bring insight into the temperament of the times past and present.
  • Descend to the foot of the mountain to GETHSEMANE (Matthew 26:36-56), to the grotto and the garden where Jesus spent his last night and was later arrested. Visit the Church of Agony, which was erected over the rock where the 3 disciples (Peter and the 2 sons of Zeb’e-dee) slept.
  • Travel the “Last Path” in KIDRON VALLEY and ascend to the walled city of Jerusalem.
  • Enter the Old City and visit the WAILING WALL – holiest shrine in Judaism today and revered by many Christians as well. (Isaiah 56:7)
  • Walk the WAILING WALL TUNNEL, beneath the existing town, on the level of the streets during the time of the Temple.
  • Exit the tunnel to the beginning of the VIA DOLOROSA (Road of Suffering). Walk station by station, from the location of the trial till GOLGOTHA and the HOLY SEPULCHRE, the ancient site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.Walk through the Roman Cardo and exit the ‘walled’ town via Zion Gate on Mt. Zion to visit the traditional ROOM OF THE LAST SUPPER in which Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples (Matthew 26: 17 – 30) – also the upper room where receiving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost occurred . (Act 2).
  • Visit the DORMITION ABBEY, where Mary went to sleep.
  • Drive through the streets of new Jerusalem to the MENORAH in front of the Israeli parliament.

Overnight in Jerusalem.

 DAY 6: Dead Sea, Masada 
  • Descend the Judean mountains east into the Judean desert and on to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.
  • Drive south along its shoreline to MASADA, Israel’s foremost archaeological park.
  • Ascend via cable car for a thorough visit that gives insight to the rituals, politics and culture of the people who inhabited this desert fortress.
  • Descend to the shores of the DEAD SEA for an afternoon of leisure.
  • Indulge yourselves in the mineral-rich black mud of the Dead Sea, float in its therapeutic waters or simply relax at the spa.
  • Return to Jerusalem passing via Qumeran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
  • Time permitting, stop at the INN OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN,on the modern road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Traditionally, this is the location that serves as the background for the well-known parable. (Luke 10:25-37)

Overnight in Jerusalem.

 DAY 7: Jerusalem & Bethlehem 
  • After breakfast, start the day at the CITY OF DAVID where Jerusalem began.  A thorough visit includes walking the sophisticated water system all the way till the pools of Siloam, where Jesus healed the blind. (John 9:1-7)
  • Cross from the City of David, via the ancient underground tunnel to DAVIDSON CENTER, the archaeological park of Jerusalem, where evidence of the second temple period and the impressive architecture of King Herod are a major focus. Stand on the stairs leading to Hulda Gate, main entrance to the temple, during the time of Jesus.
  • Drive to BETHLEHEM to visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY the traditional birthplace of Christ.
  • Return to Jerusalem to visit the GARDEN TOMB, a rock hewn tomb believed by some to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Overnight in Jerusalem.