Study Suggestions (by Michelle Wright, 2018)
This is in no way an exhaustive guide, but just some thoughts and passages to reflect on while we are in Israel. I hope you find it helpful.
Day 1—Monday—land at Tel Aviv.
Most fly in today, so while you’re on the plane you can prepare mentally. We’ll be staying in Tel Aviv this evening, just a stone’s throw away from the biblical city of Joppa. The Joppa gate is still there, and you can walk to it along the beach. Joppa has a rich history in the Bible, as several key events took place here. As you’ll see it’s a sea port. A lot of the wood that was used to buil the temple came through this port.
Other notable biblical events: Jonah’s Flight to Tarshish (Jonah 1); Tabitha (Dorcas) raised from the dead (Acts 9); Peter’s dream (Acts 10)
Day 2 —Tuesday—Caesarea Maritima, Mt. Carmel, Magdala, Sea of Galilee.
This is our first full day, and is it a full day! The first stop is Caesarea Maritima, a place with a lot of biblical history and significance. As you ride from Tel Aviv to this location note the time it takes—as you're riding in a bus at highway speed. Then imagine what it would be like to walk this route. This is the route Peter took after having his dream in Acts 10 and Cornelius sent for him.
- Caesarea Maritima is where Cornelius and his family were converted (Acts 10). This is also where Paul was held, and pled his case before Felix, Festus and Agrippa (Acts 23-26).
- Mount Carmel—Elijah, the prophets of Baal and the end of the drought (1 Kings 18). Where Elisha was staying (2 Kings 4:25). Strength and beauty of this mountain (Song 7:5).
- Druze Village—Much like the Abrahamic faiths, the Druze religion is monotheistic, and recognizes many prophets, including Jesus, John the Baptist, Muhammad, Moses. Their most respected prophet is Jethro, Moses' father-in-law (Exodus 3-4; 18). Druze are not allowed to drink alcohol, eat pork, or smoke tobacco, similar to the dietary laws in Islam. Yet polygamy is prohibited, and men and women are viewed as equals.
- Magdala (Magadan in NIV)—Believed to be home of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2). Jesus went here after feeding 4000 (Matt 15:39).
- Sea of Galilee (Sea of Tiberias)—The Amorites lived in area (Josh 12, 13). This area was to go to the tribe of Gad (Josh 13). Prophecy of Messiah’s ministry in Galilee (Isa 9). Jesus calls his first disciples, and reinstates Peter in this area (Matt 4; Mark 1; John 21).
Day 3—Wednesday—Caesarea Philippi, Dan, Capernaum
As we make our way northward from Tiberias to Caesarea Philippi, take note of the terrain and distance.
- Caesarea Philippi—Once we arrive, look around (natural beauty, pagan shrines…) Ponder Peter’s declaration about Jesus (Matt 16; Mark 8; Luke 9).
- Tel Dan is a key place in the Old Testament (Gen 14:14). It is part of the Promised Land (Deut 34:1; Joshua 19:40; Judges 18; 2 Sam 24; 1 Kings 12; 1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 10).
- Capernaum is the city where Peter lived and the city where Jesus based his ministry (Matt 4:13; Matt 8:5; Mark 1:21; Mark 2:1; Luke 4; Luke 10 and Matt 11; John 2:12; John 6)
Day 4—Thursday—Nazareth, Megiddo, Beth Shean, Jericho
Yesterday we journeyed around where Jesus started his ministry. Visited the areas where he preached and taught, healed and helped. Where he called his first disciples and performed many miracles. Today, we’ll see where Jesus grew up. Try to imagine the Son of God growing up in a town like this. Take note of the size, and proximity to the other places we visited.
- Nazareth—This is the town where Jesus grew up. Once you visit, reflect on Philip’s words in John (John 1:46) Can you understand why he may have said this now? (Matt 2; Mark 6; Luke 1:26; Luke 2; Luke 4)
- Megiddo—Armageddon in Revelation. Many battles were waged here, on the plain Megiddo overlooks—in the Jezreel Valley (Judges 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29-30; 1 Chr 7:29; Zech 12:10-12; Rev 16).
- Beth Shan—Beit She’an, Beth Shean—A key OT biblical site due to its location by the Jordan River and Jezreel Valley. In Roman times, Beit She'an was called Scythopolis—was the capital of the Decapolis. (Joshua 17:16; 1 Sam 31; 2 Sam 21:12; Mark 5; Mark 7)
- Jericho—More than walls that came down here. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BC). First-century Jericho is described in Strabo's Geography: “Jericho is a plain surrounded by a kind of mountainous country, which in a way, slopes toward it like a theatre. It’s mixed with all kinds of cultivated and fruitful trees, though it consists mostly of palm trees.” (Num 22; 26; 31; 33; Deut 32:49; 34:1-3; Josh 2; 3; 5; 6; 2 Kings 2; 2 Chr 28; Matt 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 10:30; Luke 19)
Day 5 —Friday—Temple Mount, Western Wall, Gallicantu
Today we head into Jerusalem where the Temple of God once stood. There are many, many, scriptures about the temple and the area. From it being built on Mount Moriah (where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac) to its destruction. So today just try to be “in the moment” and location of so many of the stories you know.
- Picture what it was like ascending up to the temple after a journey from Galilee where we just came from. Jewish males were required (women also joined by were not required) by the Hebraic law to come here 3 times a year. Passover, Pentecost and Sukkot (feast of booths or tabernacles). Imagine that pilgrimage—2x or 3x a year (spring and fall) as we look at the Temple Mount.
- Reflect on the many psalms labeled Psalm of Ascent. Jewish pilgrims would recite and sing these as they walked up to the Temple Mount.
- Imagine David designing this place. Imagine how long it took to build. Imagine the rejoicing upon its completion. Imagine it being destroyed by the Babylonians as the Jews were led away into captivity.
- Imagine the joy when it was rebuilt. Try to imagine the grander of the Temple as you get a glimpse of the western retaining wall that remains standing.
- Reflect on Joseph and Mary coming here with baby Jesus. Imagine people like Ana and Simeon who waited here and got a glimpse of Jesus.
- Picture Jesus walking around and teaching in its shadows. Imagine the destruction and sadness of such a great testament to God being destroyed by the Roman Army.
- Imagine why the Pharisees got so enraged when Jesus said he’d tear this temple down and rebuild it 3 days.
- Imagine why Jesus was so enraged when he walked here to worship and saw all the bartering and trading going on.
- Picture the utter chaos and disillusion when the Romans destroyed this temple in 70 AD.
Gallicantu is Latin for “[at] the cockcrow.” This is the residence / compound of the high priest, Caiaphas. Here Jesus was held and tried, and here Peter denied the Lord three times (Matt 26:57-75; Mark 14:53+; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:12-27). Take some time today to reflect and write about all you saw and felt.
Day 6—Saturday—Masada, Qumran, Dead Sea, Sound & Light Show
Douglas included abundant information about Masada in a pre-tour memo. The region of Qumran is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The Dead Sea is also called the Salt Sea and the Sea of Arabah (Num 34; Josh 3:16; Ezek 47:8); this is the area where David hid from Saul (1 Sam 23:29; 24:1).
The Night Spectacular takes us through millennia of history in the Holy Land. The show is projected onto the stones of the Tower of David Museum (also called The Citadel), parts of which are 2000 years old.
Day 7—Sunday—City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Holy Sepulchre
Think of this as a day to see where many miracles and healings took place, including the location where Jesus chose to give us the ultimate healing of our souls, the option to be reconciled to God the Father.
- City of David—the resting (burial) place of numerous kings (2 Sam 5-6; 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 3; 2 Kings 16:20; 1 Chr 11; 1 Chr 13; 1 Chr 15; Neh 3:15; 12:37).
- Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 18-20). Described in 20:20; also mentioned in the Chronicles.
- Pool of Siloam (Neh 3:15; John 9)
- Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:30; Zech 14:3-5; Matt 21; Matt 24; John 8:1)
- Gethsemane (Matt 26; Mark 14)
- Pool of Bethesda (John 5)