Israel Study Tour with Pastor Steve Williams

May 16-26, 2016

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Bringing Scripture to Life

We didn’t waste a minute getting our trip started. Most of us didn’t get to be until well after midnight and with anticipation most of us were up before our 6:30 wake up call. After a great breakfast we started our day looking at what an incredible impact agriculture has on scripture. I was blown away after hearing the “why” certain things are said in scripture. Ronen (our amazingly knowledgeable guide), really made the bible come alive right out of the gate as we visited Yad Hashmonah and learned about herbs, winepresses, olive presses, burial rituals and cleansing ceremonies.

Yad Hashmonah

The Biblical Village on the slope of Yad HaShmonah provides visitors with hands-on exposure to the manners and customs of the ancient Israelites. The garden includes olive trees and press, grape vines and several winepresses, wheat field and threshing floor, watchtower, Bedouin tents, ancient Galilean synagogue, and a burial cave. All have been constructed according to the best archaeological knowledge of ancient life.

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From there we went to Beth Shemesh and saw this amazing views which made the book of Judges come alive as we read through the story of Samson. We talked through the different cities and inhabitants of the time... I was amazed just seeing how far they characters traveled by foot on a regular basis. We also walked down into a large water cistern which was very awesome to see how they captured rain water to use each year.

Beth Shemesh

A border city between Judah and Dan, Beth Shemesh was given to the Levites. Beth Shemesh was the most important Israelite city in the Sorek Valley as it watched both east-west traffic through the Sorek Valley and north-south traffic along the “Diagonal Route.” Recent excavations have shown a thriving city here from the Middle Bronze Age through the Iron II period.

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After a nice picnic lunch under the shade we hiked up hill and sat to hear both our guide and Pastor Steve teach from Azekah, the place where David fought Goliath. We had some young students who were on a two-month hike resting under tree and a number of us noticed how engaged they were hearing Pastor Steve teach about this story bringing out incredible insights that we quickly wrote down and now have a visual picture of this very well-known story. We concluded this part by getting to go down to the river bed and actually grab a small smooth stone like the one David used as a souvenir.

Tel Azekah and Elah Valley

The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.

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We concluded our day by getting to see Adullum and learn about the caves we read throughout the old testaments. We enjoyed exploring the ancient city of Maresha and Bet Guvrin where the prophet Micah and Herod the Great grew up. We had the opportunity to walk through the underground village of Maresha which from a far looked like a barren land. People had businesses and lived underground and after hiking through a maze that I thought would never end (people living here obviously were not my size) we found out that we had seen only a small portion.

Beth Guvrin (Maresha)

Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a national park in central Israel, 13 kilometers from Kiryat Gat, encompassing the ruins of Maresha, one of the important towns of Judah during the time of the First Temple,[1] and Beit Guvrin, an important town in the Roman era, when it was known as Eleutheropolis.

Archaeological artifacts unearthed at the site include a large Jewish cemetery, a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, a Byzantine church, public baths, mosaics and burial caves.

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We then drove about 1:45 minutes to the Dead Sea where we will spend the next 2 days. Everyone just finished dinner and now are resting up for a big day tomorrow.

Dead Sea

Known in the Bible as the “Salt Sea” or the “Sea of the Arabah,” this inland body of water is appropriately named because its high mineral content allows nothing to live in its waters. Other post-biblical names for the Dead Sea include the “Sea of Sodom,” the “Sea of Lot,” the “Sea of Asphalt” and the “Stinking Sea.” In the Crusader period, it was sometimes called the “Devil’s Sea.” All of these names reflect something of the nature of this lake.

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Featured Upcoming Tour

GTI Signature Tour: Israel & Jordan
Septemer 5-17, 2020

Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.

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