Places on our Journey
Nazareth is the town in Lower Galilee where Yeshua grew up. Here the Sacred family worked its way in a humble house. Here Yeshua went to the Synagogue to study the Torah and the Prophets, to Praise the Father.
Here he worked with his own hands as a carpenter. From here he went to Jerusalem every year on the Jewish feasts of pilgrimage. And it is from here that he went to the Judean desert to start his public ministry and proclaim the "Good News".
After his Death and Resurrection in Jerusalem the people of Nazareth kept alive the tradition of the house where the Annunciation took place. A site of such importance could not remain unknown to the early Christians and above all to the next of kin of the Lord, of Mary and Joseph. It is thanks to them that today we can visit Nazareth and bow in silence to hear the "voice" announcing "Hail Mary". It is thanks to them that you can kneel down and in silence meditate about the great "mystery of love" that evolved on and around the unknown town.
Today Nazareth, political and administrative capital of Galilee, is a busy town with a population made up of Christians and Moslems. On the outskirts of the historic town a "New Nazaret" (Nazareth Illit) has grown. Dominating the skyline of this low-lying town is the dome over the site of the Annunciation, a gem of architecture which the Franciscans, through the generous help of the Christians from all over the world has put up to mark this holy place.
Nazareth is where Yeshua spent his childhood, is situated in the Galilian hills overlooking the Jezreel valley. Its winding, cobbled lanes, churches, convents and monasteries, and the all-pervading sense of history vividly conjure up the story of 2000 years ago when Joseph, heeding the angel’s words, “took the young child and his mother ... and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth” (Matthew 2:21-23). Yeshua spent his childhood here, though the gospels give no description of these formative years.
Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament and only archaeological evidence points to a village inhabited during the First Temple period.
Its Jewish community was almost wiped out by the Romans during the Jewish revolt. Later, with the strengthening the Roman Empire, the number of Christians grew. From the fourth century, churches were built on the sites which were connected with Yeshua and the Virgin Mary. Today, the population consists of Christians, represented by several denominations, Moslems and Jews. There are many churches, monasteries, convents, hostels and schools.
Nazareth Village offers you exactly what you come to the Holy Land for: to touch the time of Yeshua, see its sights, hear its sounds, and even breathe in its aromas. Located on a pastoral patch of farmland in the modern city of Nazareth, a tour of Nazareth Village provides an authentic experience of the land of the Bible.
You are greeted by costumed “inhabitants” (the staff actually did grow up in Nazareth), and feel Yeshua’ teachings come alive along the Parable Walk. You can see women spinning, drawing water and baking bread, and men tilling the soil or harvesting, and herding sheep and goats.
At the olive oil press you’ll learn that the word “Nazareth” comes from the Hebrew for a new shoot of an olive tree, the “branch” of Isaiah 11:1. An entire house has been reconstructed, along with a synagogue of the type in which Yeshua preached in this very town (Luke 4:16-28). Nazareth Village is a truly unique way to immerse yourself in the Bible.
The Church of Annunciation
The focal point of Nazareth is the Church if the Annunciation, situated in the city’s old market quarter. This church was completed in 1969 and is the fifth church built on the spit where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Yeshua.
In the Christian New Testament, the Gospel of John refers a number of times to a town called Cana of Galilee.
Among Christians and other students of the New Testament, Cana is best known as the place where, according to the Fourth Gospel, Yeshua performed his tenth miracle (scholars would note that it was His first miracle in Cana, acknowledging that His disciples were present at the feast, but with him in Capernaum where Mark records miracles after the temptation; Mark 1:25,31,34.), the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11) when the wine provided by the bridegroom had run out.
None of the synoptic gospels record this event, but in John's gospel it has considerable symbolic importance: it is the first of the seven miraculous "signs" by which Yeshua's divine status is attested, and around which the gospel is structured.
The story has had considerable importance in the development of Christian pastoral theology, since the facts that Yeshua was invited to a wedding, attended and used his divine power to save the celebrations from disaster, are taken as evidence of his approval for marriage and earthly celebrations, in contrast to the more austere views of Saint Paul as found, for example, in 1 Corinthians 7. It has also been used as an argument against Christian teetotalism.
A minority of modern readers have asserted that the wedding was originally Yeshua' own (some among them identifying the bride as Mary Magdalene), and that an earlier account has been edited in order to Four miles beyond Nazareth in the direction of Tiberias is the Arab village of Cana. The Christian inhabitants, who number half the local population, belong to the Catholic, Greek or Melkite Churches.
Cana is the scene of two important New Testament happenings. Nathaniel, a native of Cana, was initially quite sceptical of Yeshua. It was he who said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Also here at Cana, Yeshua performed his first miracle: at a wedding he was attending the wine required for the sanctification gave out. Yeshua commanded that six stone jars used in the ritual purification be filled with water. When the water was drawn off it miraculously turned to wine. This was to be the first Yeshua’ signs.
Mount Tabor, at 1850 feet, is the highest mountain in the area. From here there is a magnificent view of the Jezreel plain and Nazareth to the west, Samaria to north.
The top is a large plateau. It was traditionally on the summit of Mount Tabor, “the high mountain apart”, that Yeshua was transfigured in the eyes of Peter, James and John “and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).
Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 17 kilometres (11 mi) west of the Sea of Galilee. Its elevation at the summit is 575 metres (1,843 ft) above sea level. It is believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of Christ and site for the battle between Barak and the army of Jabin, commanded by Sisera. It is also known as Har Tavor, Itabyrium, Jebel et-Tur, and the Mount of Transfiguration.
Tiberias in the western shores of the Sea of Galilee was founded by Herid Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee in 21 A.D. During the city’s construction, a Jewish necropolis (cemetery) was uncovered and Jews refused to live there for fear of ritual contamination through contact with the dead. It remained exclusively pagan for many years and we have no evidence that Yeshua ever entered the site.
Tiberias later became a seat of Jewish scholarship. By the second century the Sanhedrin was located here. It was in Tiberias, that the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud were compiled, and Hebrew scriptural punctuation was composed. After serving as the capital of Galilee during crusader times, Tiberias declined in subsequent centuries. It is currently a growing Jewish city known for its therapeutic hot springs.
Tiberias was built in about AD 20 by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great on the site of the destroyed village of Rakkat, and it became the capital of his realm in Galilee. It was named in honor of Antipas' patron, the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Tiberias's name in the Roman Empire (and consequently the form most used in English) was its Greek form, ΤιβεριÎ¬ς (Tiberiás, Modern Greek ΤιβεριÎ¬δα Tiveriáda), an adaptation of the taw-suffixed Semitic form that preserved its feminine grammatical gender.
During Herod's time, the Jews refused to settle there; the presence of a cemetery rendered the site ritually unclean. However, Antipas forcibly settled people there from rural Galilee in order to populate his new capital. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish court, fled from Jerusalem during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire, and after several stations eventually settled in Tiberias. It was in fact its final meeting place before its disbandment in the early Byzantine period. Following the expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem after 135, Tiberias and its neighbor Sepphoris became the major centers of Jewish culture. The Mishnah, which grew into the Jerusalem Talmud, may have begun to have been written here.
In 613 it was the site where the final Jewish revolt against the Byzantine Empire started coming into aid of the Persian invaders. Following the Arab conquest, the Caliphate allowed 70 Jewish families from Tiberias to form the core of a renewed Jewish presence in Jerusalem. The caliphs of the Umayyad Dynasty also built one of its series of square-plan palaces (the most impressive of which is Hisham's Palace near Jericho) on the waterfront to the north of Tiberias, at Khirbet al-Minya.
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is the catchment basin for the Jordan River and is fed by the melting snows if Mount Hermon to the north. Numerous other seasonal streams flow down from the surrounding mountains to this low-lying, fresh-water lake, 685 feet below sea level.
The Sea of Galilee is in fact a lake; it is 13 miles land and 7.5 miles wide, 50 meters deep, with a surface area of 63.7 square miles. In a land so barren, this fresh-water lake provides much needed greenery, respite for the eyes and the soul and, through the intense cultivation possible here, nourishment for the body.
Yeshua spent most of his three-year public ministry in towns and villages around the Sea if Galilee. Some scholars, taking note of the large number of sick people that came to Yeshua to be healed, believe tat they may have initially come to the region to take advantage of the hot springs. (Matt. 4:18; 15:29)
The Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Bible under three other names.
This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 200 feet. The Jordan enters it 10 1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the Mediterranean, and about 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It is of an oval shape, and abounds in fish.
MEANING OF SEA -- In general use, the word "sea" is used to refer to large bodies of salt water, such as the oceans and partially landlocked waters such as the Mediterranean Sea or landlocked bodies such as the Caspian Sea. However, "sea" is also occasionally used to refer to large fresh water bodies, such as the Sea of Galilee. The word "sea" appears 400 times in 352 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. The Hebrew word is "yam" - "from an unused root meaning "to roar." The name is used in Hebrew to refer to a sea (as breaking in noisy surf) or a large body of water; specifically (with the article) the Mediterranean; sometimes a large river, or an artificial basin." References include: The Dead Sea, Red Sea, East Sea, salt sea, and the Molten Sea
The cured northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee contains several brackish springs, this explaining the Greek name for the site, Heptapegon (seven springs). Over the years, the name was destroyed to Tabgha. The site is Yeshua’ miraculous feeding of the multitude is commemorated by a fourth century church whose flower and bird mosaics are the most beautiful in the Holy Land. Between the apse and altar of the church is a fifth to sixth century mosaic, representing fishes and a basket of loaves (Mk. 6:34, Luke 9:10).
Tabgha (also spelled Tabhka) is not a city, but a small area on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Capernaum. In ancient times, Tabgha was known as Heptapegon - "Place of the Seven Springs." These seven springs produce warm water, which increases the production of algae in this part of the lake, which attracts more fish. Fisherman have thus flocked to Heptapegon for thousands of years.
By the 4th century AD, Heptapegon had become a popular place for Byzantine pilgrims to rest and have their picnics, thanks to its shady trees and excellent fishing. It is probably not coincidence that two of the three pilgrimage destinations in this relate to abundant food: the miracle of the loaves and fishes during Yeshua' Galilean ministry and a lakeside fish breakfast after Yeshua' resurrection.
A hill above the two lakeside churches is commemorated as the Mount of Beatitudes, from which Yeshua spoke the most famous sermon in history. Tabgha is a beautiful area with many interesting things to see, and is a major stop for modern pilgrimages to the Christian sites of the Sea of Galilee. It is only a few miles from Capernaum (to the north) and the Galilee Boat (to the south).
The Mount of Beatitudes
On a hill rising behind Tabgha is a round chapel built in 1937 and maintained by the Franciscan Sisters. This site, which offers one of Israel’s most beautiful panoramas, is where Yeshua delivered his Sermin on the Mount.
Capernaum at the time of Yeshua was a border village between Herod Abtupas’ Tetrachy of Galilee and Hellenistic Gaulanitis. It contained a customs house, and was garrisoned by a small Roman detachment. It was here that Yeshua came to teach after his failure to evangelize Nazareth, and Capernaum became the centre of his Galilean ministry. Yeshua gathered together his disciples here (Matt. 4, 14) and performed many cures (Mk. 1,21;2,3, Luke 7, 2). Today can be seen the remains of a synagogue 2-3 centuries younger tan that in which Yeshua taught, though most likely on the same site.
The main material used for building is well-dressed and carved limestone. The synagogue is typical of the basilica style of the period, with Corinthian columns. Nearby are the remains of an octagonal structure, thought to be built on the remains of Peter’s house. Beneath can be seen some of the stone artefacts of ancient Capernaum: a carved palm tree, millstone and the Star of David.
Yardenit is today a popular site for baptism of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Situated close to where the Jordan leaves the Sea of Galilee, it boasts modern facilities including showers and a restaurant.
Caesaria Phillipi at the base of Mt. Hermon stands at the headwaters of one of the sources of the Jordan. Its present name is Banias, a distortion of the Greek word Paneas, for here stood a shrine to the god Pan. Here Herod the Great built a Shrine to Caesar. Phillipi his son embellished the town and named it Caesaria.
Caesaria Phillipi is to be distinguished from the Herodean port-city Caesaria Maritima. It was here that Simon acknowledged Yeshua as the Messiah, to which Yeshua replied: “You are Peter. And on this rock (Petra) I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
Mount Carmel is seaward extension of the Samara range. It stretches along fourteen miles and is 3-4 miles wide, jutting across the coastal plain to meet the sea at Haifa. Carmel was extolled by the prophets for its beauty and fertility (Songs 7:5, Isa. 35:2, Amos 1:2) and as a place if worship and retreat (I Kings 18:19, II Kings 2:25, Amos 9:3).
Today the mountain is covered with oak and carob groves with several settlements scattered on its broad rolling plateau. In biblical times this plateau was heavily cultivated. A number of villages here, Daliat el Carmel and Isafiya re inhabited by a non Moslem Arab people called the Druze. This sect broke with formal Islam in the 11th century and was founded by Ismael Lebanon, Galilee, Carmel and the Golan heights.
Situated on Mount Carmel, overlooking the Izrael Valley. The Canaanite inhabitants worshipped Baal and his consort Ishtar who were adopted by the Israelites. Here Elijah the prophet challenged the priests of Baal to prove whose god was more powerful and when he won, the Israelites abandoned the Canaanite deities and the false prophets were slaughtered (1 Kings 18). Mukhraka, the traditional site of the contest, is today marked by a Carmelite monastery, built in 1886.
Haifa - The Baha'i Shrine
Haifa is the world centre of the Bahai faith. The neo-classical archives and gold-domed shrine are situated in one of Israel’s most beautiful garden estates. In 1844, a Persian, Mirza Mohammed Ali Mohammad declared himself the forerunner or “El Bab” and proclaimed the imminent coming of the awaited Mahdi.
In 1866, a follower, Baha Ulla, announced that he was the awaited one. The Turks banished Baha Ulla to Acre, where he is buried. The Bahai faith preaches continual revelation and respects all previous enlightened teachings. The sect now numbers over two million. The gold-domed shrine contains the remains of both el Bab and the Baha Ulla’s successor, Abdul Basha.
Acre is first mentioned in the Egyptian excretion texts in the 19th century B.C. From the 25th to the 13th centuries B.C, it was a large important Cannanite city. Tough part of the inheritance of Asher, it never seems to have been conquered by the Israelites (Judges 1:31). In the 7th and 8th centuries B.C, it was an important Phonician city. It flourished as Hellenistic city under the name Ptolemais. Here Paul disembarked (Acts 21:7).
The city is mentioned once in the New Testament. Acre entered its most glorious period with the coming of the Crusaders; it was taken by Baldwin I in 104, and became chief stronghold of the Crusaders Kingdom. After the disastrous Christian defeat at Hittin in 1187, the city surrendered to Saladin without resistance but was soon reinforced by knights from all over Europe, only to fall in 1191. During following century, St. John de Acre became capital of Latin Kingdom. Rivalry between the principal chivalrous orders and corruption within the merchant population weakened the city’s strength and hastened its fall to Moslems in 1291.
Many Crusaders buildings and fortifications remain intact to this day. The Acre Mosque was built by the notorious 18th century Moslem ruler; Jasser Pasha is among the most important mosques in Israel.
The view from Megiddo and its strategic importance are discussed in the introduction. The Tel itself consists of twenty superimposed cities, the oldest going back to 4000 B.C. The Tel was finally abandoned in 400 B.C.
A Canaanite city stood here around 2000 B.C., but was succeeded to by the Hyksos invaders in the 18th century B.C. The Hyksos were finally subdued and Megiddo taken by the pharaoh Thutmose in 1478 B.C. King Solomon fortified Megiddo and made it one of his chariot cities and supply centres (I Kings 4:12; 9:15; 10:26). Two Judean kings died in battle here: Ahaziah was killed by Jehu in 847 B.C, (II Kings 9:27) and Josiah by Pharoah Necco in 610 B.C. (II Kings 23:26).
In World War I the decisive battle in the conquest of northern Palestine by the British was fought here. General Allenby’s victory earned him the title Viscount of Megiddo.
Located on the coast, Caesaria was initially a small Phoenician trading post called Straton’s tower. In 25 B.C., Herod the Great built an artificial harbour and a “king size” city.
This port city of Caesaria, named in honour of Augustus, was designed to link the pagan Decapolis with Rime and serve as a counterweight to Jerusalem’s port of Jaffa. After Herod’s death, Caesaria became the seat of the Roman government in Judea; Pontius Pilate resided here during his terms as procurator.
A bitter dispute between the local pagan and Jewish populations led to heightened Jewish resentment of Rome. With the outbreak of the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was proclaimed emperor here. Phillip the Deacon evangelized here (Acts 8:40) and Paul was imprisoned here (Acts 23:23). The seat of government during Byzantine times, Caesaria had a population of 200,000.
One famous inhabitant was Eusebeus, the first historian of the church. Caesaria fell in 640 to the Arabs, but was retaken and fortified by the Crusaders and finally destroyed by Beybars in 1921. It is now a very popular tourist site with a fine beach, restaurant, art galleries and excavations.
From the time immemorial, Jaffa (Hebrew for “beautiful”) has been important as a port and station in the ancient trade route of “Via Maris”, which connected Egypt with Mesopotamia and the north. Legend holds that the founder of Jaffa was Japhet, son of Noah.
Documentary evidence goes back 3500 years to the time when, as described in the Amarna letters, the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III conquered the town in 1468 B.C., by bringing in with him, hundreds of soldiers in innocent-looking hampers. II Chronicles 2:16 relates how Solomon discussed his building projects with Hiram, king of tyre, who offered: “We will cut wood out of Lebanon... and bring it in floats by sea to Joppa”, for this was the Holy Land’s outlet to the wide world. Jonah 1:3 tells how he “went down to Joppa. And he found a ship going to Tarshish”. Christians associate Jaffa with Peter, who resorted Tabitha to life and “tarried many days with one Simon, a tanner” (acts 9:43).
Here he had his vision which led to the first preaching of the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. The House of Simon the tanner and St. Peter’s Church recall these events.
Another legend associated with Jaffa is that if Perseus and Andromeda, daughter of the king of Jaffa. The beautiful princess was chained to a rock in the harbour to be sacrificed to the sea monster, in order to appease its wrath. Perseus saw her in her terrible plight and rescued her by slaying the monster. “Andromeda’s rock” can be seen in the harbour not far from the light-house. Today, one of Jaffa’s main attractions is the Artists’ quarter, with its quaint streets and workshops.
Ein Karem is the village “in the hill country of Judah” (Like 1:65) where John the Baptist was born. Here Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, had his summer home and here the Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elisabeth. Churches, convents and monasteries abound in the picturesque valley, while around Mary’s spring, from which Mary is said to have drawn water when she visited her cousin Elisabeth; there are artists’ galleries and a popular Music Centre. The oldest churches are those of St. John the Baptist and Visitation, both belonging to the Franciscans.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is built over the birthplace of St. John and has beautiful paintings and decorated ceramic tiles. The first church on the site was erected in Byzantine times and rebuilt by the Crusaders, but later destroyed. The present structure was completed in 1674. Steps lead down to a natural cave, the Grotto of the “Benedictus” is inscribed on the lintel: “Blessed be the Lord, Yahweh of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people”. The two-story Church of the Visitation, designed by Barluzzi, was completed in 1955.
A chapel built in the site of the home of Elizabeth and Zacharias has paintings describing events in their lives. Behind a grill is the rock where the baby John is said to have been concealed during the Massacre if the Innocents. The courtyard is decorated with ceramic tiles bearing the “Magnificat” in 42 languages.
The little town of Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “house of bread”, has many biblical associations reflecting a tranquil, pastoral existence. As its name signifies, in antiquity the district was known for its fertility and for the cultivation of its fields and terraces.
In the Old Testament, Bethlehem is often referred to as Ephrat, which means fruitfulness. Here, nearly four thousand years ago, Jacob buried his young wife Rachel; here was the home of Naomi and her family; here Ruth gleaned in the fields and fell in love with her kinsman Boaz; here their great-grandson David was born and here Samuel “anointed him in the midst of his brethren’ (1 Samuel 16:13).
But the event that took place here and transformed the course of history was that ”Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matthew 2:1) Today, this town, surrounded by a beautiful hilly landscape, is the home of Christian and Muslim Arabs, many of whom are skilled artisans and craftsmen.
Church of Nativity
It seems reasonable to assume that Yeshua’ birthplace was commonly known and revered by his followers. In 135 A.D. Bethlehem became off limits to both Jews and Judeo-Christians.
Part of its paganization consisted in the birthplace being overgrown by a grove in honour of Adonis. In 330 A.D., with the Christianization of the Byzantine Empire, a splendid basilica, the Church of the Nativity, was erected on the site of the manager. Bethlehem at this period was a centre of Christian enlightenment.
Shepherds still pasture their flocks around Bethlehem, where the shepherds heard the good tidings of Yeshua’ birth from the angel of the Lord who told them to go to Bethlehem to adore the child (Luke 2). “Shepherds’ Field”, sometimes called Ruth’s field, is near the village of Bet Sahur.
Everywhere, evidence is found of Byzantine convents, and a Greek Orthodox Church covers a cave which has a fine fourth century mosaic floor. Another church, called “Campo Dei Pastori” – “Shepherd’s Field” was rebuilt for the Franciscans by Antonio Barluzzi in 1950.
The design of the Church represent a shepherd’s tent and the light penetrating the church through the glass openings of the dome recall the light that shine on the shepherds when the angel appeared to give them the tidings of Yeshua’ birth. The walls are decorated with frescoes depicting the story of the shepherds and in the centre of the Church are an altar supported by bronze statues of shepherds.
The arid climate of both Jericho and the Judean desert are due to their situation on the leeward side of the Judean Mountains. Located about 820 ft. below sea level, Jericho enjoys mild winters and hot summers.
A natural oasis it has been blessed with nearby springs (2 Kings 2:19). The key to survival in Jericho is the proper utilization of her water resources. The construction and repair of irrigation ditches, as well as a method for distributing the water among all the farmers are necessary for a viable settlement here at Jericho.
Such a degree of organization appears to have first been present at Jericho by 7000 B.C., making it one of the oldest cities in the world! Even today, the desolate grey unirrigated countryside and the lush green fields of bananas, citrus and vegetables.
Mount of Temptation
The Mount of Temptation (“Quarantel” from the Latin “Mons Quarantana” – Forty Days) looms behind Old Jericho in the west. A stony path ascends the hill and leads to the Greek monastery carved out of the mountain-side half-way up and built partly in the rock over the chasm.
Here Yeshua fasted forty days to resist the devil’s offer to him if “all the kingdoms in the world” (Luke 4:5).
In 1947, a Bedouin boy searching for a lost goat in the cliffs above the Dead Sea accidently stumbled upon the biblical discovery of the age, the Dead Sea scrolls. The hundreds of parchment fragments subsequently unearthed in eleven separate caves have thrown great light on the historical background of 1st century Israel.
These scrolls belonged to and were written by a Jewish sect, the Essenes. Founded around 160 B.C. in reaction to growing Hellenization, the Essenes sought the seclusion of the Judean Desert, where they could follow the Law more closely, and wait for the coming Messiah. They believed in two Messiahs: one, from David’s line, for the Monarch, and the other, a descendant of Aaron for the high priesthood. In 68 A.D., the settlement was completely destroyed by the Romans; the scribes, seeing the approaching legions, hastily stored the scrolls in nearby caves. There these parchments remained for nearly 1900 years.
All books of the Old Testament except Esther are present, as well as apocryphal psalms, commentaries and special scrolls dealing specifically with the sect’s code of ethics and beliefs. These Old Testament manuscripts are nearly 1000 years older than previously known manuscripts.
The texts are outstandingly similar to their Masoritic equivalents, showing a high degree of standardization of biblical texts before their compilation in Jaminia (Yavne) in the second century. The Dead Sea scrolls are presently exhibited at Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Rising 1400 feet above the Dead Sea shoreline, the table-top mountain of Masada stands as a tribute to Jewish resistance against Rome.
The summit fortress was designed by Herod the Great as a bastion capable of withstanding a siege by his enemies. He furnished the fortress with two palaces, bathhouses, storage space and provided a water storage capacity based upon trapping nearby winter flash floods.
The fortress was garrisoned by Roman soldiers in the first century A.D. until overcome by Jewish rebels at the outbreak of the Jewish War (67 A.D.). For six years Masada served as a rebel base, where guerrilla sorties could be launched into the Judean hills. The end finally came in 73 A.D., when the Roman Tenth Legion and auxiliaries numbering ten thousand troops, staged the final assault.
The nine hundred and sixty men, women and children committed a mass suicide, rather than fall into Roman captivity. Today, a cable car provides an easy approach to this once inaccessible spot. Masada, with its history, view and ruins, is one of Israel’s major tourist attractions.
Ein Gedi Spring
One of the most beautiful natural settings in Israel, Ein Gedi (spring of the kid) with its year-round waterfall and tropical vegetation contrasts with the sharp cliffs and Dead Sea shoreline. A present day Kibbutz utilizes part of this local water for irrigation, and the winter harvests fetch good process in the city markets.
It was to the caves above Ein Gedi that David fled from Saul’s wrath (1 Sam. 24). Solomon extolled the fertility of this oasis in the Song of Songs 1:14. Caves in the canyons high above Ein Gedi have revealed scrolls and letters dating from the Bar Kochba revolt in 130 A.D. In addition, a hoard of copper and ivory ritual artefacts, nearly 5000 years old have been discovered near the fountain head.
Ein Gedi is the largest oasis off the western shore of the Dead Sea. Within the oasis there are four springs which together supply 3 million cubic meters of water annually. The location, high temperatures, and abundance of water produce a large variety of plant and animal life, some of which are quite rare.
Inhabited as early as the Chalcolithic period in the fourth millennium bce, En-gedi is mentioned in the biblical description of the pursuit of David by King Saul.
Jerusalem of Gold, Jerusalem the Holy – if only the cruelties of history had not made such a travesty of her name – the city of Peace. The violent tones of destruction and rebuilding, background to the strained motifs of three faiths: To Moslems it is El-Kuds, Islam’s third holiest site where the prophet Mohammed ascended skyward.
To Jews, Yerushalaim is the Crown of Israel, Israel’s eternal capita, site of the Temple, seat of David and chosen city of Yahweh. “If I forget thee O’ Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its expressing” Jewish people’s devotion to its capital. Christians too treasure Jerusalem, for here Yeshua walked, taught and suffered through the final passion designed to redeem Mankind from sin.
Church of Mary Magdalene
Bringing a taste of the Kremlin to Jerusalem, the 19th-century Church of Mary Magdalene is a distinctive Jerusalem landmark on the Mount of Olives. The Church of Mary Magdalene was built by Tsar Alexander III in 1888 in the traditional Russian style. Easily spotted from the Temple Mount, the Russian church's seven golden domes have been newly gilded and sparkle in the sun.
Combined with its multiple levels and sculpted white turrets, the church looks like something out of a fairytale. The church is worth a close-up visit as well, for it stands in a tranquil garden and is filled with Orthodox icons and wall paintings inside.
The crypt holds the remains of Tsar Alexander's mother, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was killed in the Russian revolution of 1917. Also buried here is Princess Alice of Greece (Queen Elizabeth's mother-in-law), who harbored Jews during the Nazi occupation of Greece.
Known in Arabic as al-Azariya. Betahany was the home of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. Here Mary “sat at Yeshua’ feet, but Martha was cumbered about much serving”, complaining to Yeshua that Mary did not help her, Martha was told that “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:39-40).
Lazarus became ill and died when he had been dead for four days, Yeshua came from the River Jordan on his way to Jerusalem and restored him to life. Lazarus’ grave is behind the Franciscan Sanctuary of St. Lazarus; a masterpiece built in 1954 by Italian architect Barluzzi, which incorporate fourth, sixth and twelfth century remains.
In the church are many mosaics, copies frescos paintedby G. Vagarini. Above the church is a ruined tower said to be on the side of Simon the Leper’s house, where Yeshua sat when a woman anointed him with precious spikenard and his fellow guest complained of the waist: “Why trouble ye the woman ?” And Yeshua said: “For she hath wrought good work upon me” (Mat. 26:10).
Mount of Olives
A long ridge that was once covered with rich green olive trees, the heights that border Jerusalem to its east figure prominently in Biblical events. David ran to the Mount of Olives for sanctuary after learning of his son Absalom’s treachery [2 Samuel 15:30]; it was the hill on which Solomon built pagan altars for his foreign wives [1 Kings 11:7-8]. It was the crossing place for the scapegoat.
Ever since the First Temple Period Jews have yearned to be buried on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. Many believe that when the Messiah comes he will descend the Mount of Olives and enter Jerusalem through the Gates of Mercy and that, resurrected, they too will enter the Holy City. Early tombs include three monumental burial sites in the Kidron (Jehoshaphat) Valley.
Yeshua frequented the mountain often, traveling over the mountain to visit his friends Lazarus, Mary, Martha and Simon the Leper in Bethany. On at least one occasion It was there that He gave a major address to the disciples [Matthew 24]. He spent the night before his arrest in the gardens at Gethsemane, where brought guards to arrest him [John 18]. Judas betrayed him the next morning.
The mountain’s slopes are filled with churches commemorating events in Yeshua’ life. The Mosque of the Ascension covers the spot from which Moslems recall Yeshua’ ascension to Heaven. On the slope, the tear-shaped chapel on its slope is the spot at which he wept while recalling the dire future in store for the Holy City of Jerusalem [Luke 19].
For Christianity, no mountain holds more far reaching importance and sentiment than the Mt. Of Olives; nowhere did Yeshua spend more time during his mission in Jerusalem. Here, overlooking the Temple, he taught his disciples, on its slopes he was taken captive, by churches since Byzantine times. The Church of Eleona or Pater Noster marks the spot where Yeshua revealed worldly secrets to his disciples. (Matthew 24:3) and taught them “Our Father” (Luke 9).
Near Eleona stand the Crusader remains of the site of the Ascension. This small-doomed structure surrounded by a circular wall is presently a Moslem chapel. Inside is the impression of a footstep said to have been made by Yeshua ascending into heaven. It was here, a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem that the risen Yeshua departed from his disciples, having encountered those 40 days after his crucifixion.
City of David
Four thousand years of history have been revealed by the exciting in the City of David, where visitors gain important understanding of Jerusalem’s unique place in the world. The City of David Visitor Centre has been built overlooking the fascinating remains of a monumental building some believe was the palace of Jerusalem’s kings.
A huge water cistern evokes the story of Jeremiah’s imprisonment (Jer. 38:6). The touring route descends via Warren’s Shaft and more recently discovered tunnels to the Gihon Spring where Solomon was crowned (1 Kings 1:33).
The walk then continues to remnants of the actual Siloam Pool from Second Temple times. The adventurous can then slosh 1,500 feet through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Chron. 32:30), or take the “dry walk” through another ancient conduit. Wet or dry, the City of David is a must-see on any Jerusalem itinerary.
The story of the City of David began over 3000 years ago, when King David left the city of Hebron for a small hilltop city known as Jerusalem, establishing it as the unified capital of the tribes of Israel. Years later, David's son, King Solomon, built the First Temple next to the City of David on top of Mount Moriah, the site of the binding of Isaac, and with it, this hilltop became one of the most important sites in the world.
Today, the story of the City of David continues. Deep underground, the City of David is revealing some of the most exciting archeological finds of the ancient world. While above ground, the city is a vibrant center of activity with a visitor's center that welcomes visitors for an exciting tour to the site where much of the Bible was written.
The tour of the City of David begins with a breathtaking observation point overlooking Biblical Jerusalem which sends visitors 3,800 years back in time to the days of Abraham, when the first foundations of the city were laid. The journey quickly heads underground to some of the newest archaeological excavations at the site. Here, while exploring the recently excavated fortresses and passageways, visitors relive King David's conquest of the Jebusite city as described in the 2nd Book of Samuel.
The underground tour finally ends at the Gihon Spring, the major water source of Jerusalem for over 1,000 years and where, according to the Book of Kings, Solomon was anointed king. Visitors seeking adventure can bring flashlights and wade through the spring in King Hezekiah's 2,700 year old water tunnel, one of the wonders of early engineering.
A tour through the City of David brings visitors face to face with the personalities and places of the Bible. As such, this is the only place on earth where the only guidebook needed is the Bible itself.
The biblical City of David was situated on the southern slope of Mount Moriah, outside today's Old City wall. Under King Solomon the city was extended northward and included Mount Moriah. David chose Jerusalem as his capital primarily for geopolitical reasons. The bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to the city made it the Israelites' exclusive national, religious, and administrative center. Solomon had the lateral valley separating the city from Mount Moriah filled in. This "miloh" (infill) area, as it was known, became the site of many new palaces, while the Temple was built on the summit of Mount Moriah. The city's major point of vulnerability the fact that its water sources lay outside was removed on the eve of the Assyrian siege of 701 BCE by the digging of Hezekiah's Tunnel.
Jerusalem of the First Temple period reached the zenith of its development under King Hezekiah, expanding westward to the slopes of Mount Zion. In 586 BCE Jerusalem was captured and put to the torch by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. The flames literally baked about 50 royal seals ("bullae"), which thus survived intact to our own time. It was in the small area of the City of David that the prophets uttered their resounding perorations during the period of the First Temple, articulating spiritual and ethical values which became the pillars of human civilization. Taking solace from the consolation offered by the prophet Jeremiah, who told them that they would return, the people of Jerusalem were led into a Babylonian exile which would last for 50 years.
In Biblical times, the Gihon Spring was Jerusalem’s only water supply and when enemies were at the gate, the first priority was the safety of the spring. II Chronicles 32:30 tells how King “Hezekiah stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon and brought it straight down to the west side of the city if David”. This extraordinary conduit, now known as the Siloam Tunnel or Hezekiah’s Tunnel, was dug around 700 B.C. to bring water directly into the town and is still in use.
An inscription in ancient Hebrew script found chiselled into the conduit wall, commemorates the meeting of Hezekiah’s two work gangs who began at each end of the tunnel and met midway. At the Pool of Siloam, Yeshua healed a man who had been blind from birth and gave him sight (John 9). Empress Eudocia commemorated this miracle with a church built in the spot. It was destroyed in the Persian invasion and to prevent its being rebuilt, the Moslems ejected a mosque on the site.
The Temple Mount also called the Noble Sanctuary and is a religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem. Due to its importance for Judaism and Islam it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. Jewish Midrash holds that it was from here that the world expanded into its present form, and that this was where Yahweh gathered the dust He used to create the first man, Adam. The Torah records that it was here that Yahweh chose to rest His Divine Presence, and consequently two Jewish Temples were built at the site. Jews believe that the Third Temple, which they hope will be the final one, will also be located here. In recent times, due to difficulties in ascertaining the precise location of the Mount's holiest spot, many Jews will not set foot on the Mount itself.
The Temple Mount is especially holy to Jews and Muslims. For Jews, the Temple Mount is the site of the First and Second Temples as well as important events like the creation of Adam, the first sacrifice made by Adam, Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac, and Jacob's famous dream of angels and ladders.
For Muslims, the Temple Mount is the site from which Muhammad embarked on his Night Journey to heaven. The Dome of the Rock, built in 691 AD, is one of the earliest Muslim structures and shelters the very rock on which Muhammad stood. The Temple Mount also contains an ancient and important mosque, the Al Aqsa Mosque, built in 720 AD. The Temple Mount is a relatively minor site for Christians, but is believed to contain the "pinnacle of the Temple" (Matthew 4:5) from which Satan tempted Yeshua to jump to prove his status as the Messiah (near Al Aqsa Mosque).
The courtyard by the mosques provides an excellent view of surrounding Christian sites, including the Dome of the Ascension (marking the site from which where Yeshua ascended into heaven) and the church of Dominus Flevit (commemorating the spot where Yeshua wept as he saw a vision of Jerusalem in ruins).
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a key issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1967, the Israeli government assigned a Muslim council management of the site.
Pool of Bethesda
North of the Temple Mount just inside St. Stephen’s gate lies the Pool of Bethesda of Piscina Probatica. Uncovered in 1871, the pool appears as a deep pit broken by a series of stone foundations archways upon which were built Byzantine and Crusader Churches.
Used as a rain catchment pool during Herod’s reign. It was part of a grandiose plan to augment Jerusalem’s meagre water supply. During Yeshua’ time this pool was thought to have curative powers. It is here that Yeshua miraculously cured the infirm man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-18).
The Via Dolorosa, “Way of Sorrow” or “Way of the Cross” is Christendom’s most sacred route. It is the path followed by Yeshua from the judgment court, the praetorian, to Golgotha. The place of the Crucifixion, bearing the Cross on his back. Every Friday at 3 p.m., Christian pilgrims from all over the world join the Franciscan procession to retrace these steps and recall Yeshua’ Agony.
There are fourteen stations on the way of the Cross, nine along the narrow street and five inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. All are marked by chapels or churches for meditation and prayer. Despite the hustle and the bustle of the route, it is a moving spiritual experience to wander along the Way where Yeshua suffered on his last day on earth 2000 years ago.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre also called the Church of the Resurrection , is a Christian church and lies in the heart of the Christian Quarter of the Old city. Within the compound are the Hill of Golgotha or Calvary and the Rotunda which contains the Holy Sepulchre. Here Yeshua was crucified, buried and resurrected.
The Church is maintained by the Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians. There are also several chapels including the Chapel if Adam, the Chapel of St. Helena and the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross.
The ground on which the church stands is venerated by most Christians as Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary, where the New Testament says that Yeshua was crucified. It is said to also contain the place where Yeshua was buried (the sepulchre).
The church has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century. Today it serves as the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Catholic Archpriest of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
Room of the Last Supper
The Cenacle is the second floor room marking the site of the Passover feast Yeshua attended with his disciples – The Last Supper (Mark 14:13). The present structure is a 14th century renovation with Gothic windows and Crusader arches.
Just as the law came forth from David’s Zion in Isaiah’s time, so here did the Apostles meet to spread the new covenant. Here Yeshua appeared before the Apostles (John 20:19-23; 22:24-29) and here, too, the Holy Ghost descended upon the house at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)
The Garden Tomb
Many Protestants believe that Yeshua was buried in the Garden Tomb, which is set in a quiet enclosure just outside the Damascus gate.
A nearby hillock, with a Moslem cemetery on top and a broken cistern in its rocky face, bears resemblance to a skull, which could be Golgotha. In 167 A.D, a first-century rock-hewn tomb containing two chambers was discovered near the hill. In 1882, the British General Gordon was a leading advocate for this area as a probable site of the Crucifixion and it was purchased by the Garden Tomb
Association of London in 1893. The evidence for a probable site of execution near to an exceptionally large cistern and a Herodian tomb, which meets all the details mentioned in the Gospel, makes the present garden a meaningful centre for Christian meditation and devotion.
Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations
In the valley of Kidron, on the Mt .of Olive’s lower slopes, there stands to this day a stately grove of eight ancient olive trees. These trees and their fruit have given this site its name Gethsemane, for gate-shamna is olive press in Aramaic
.The garden is well kept by the Franciscan brothers who offer pilgrims a leaf from the trees as a memento of their visit. The focal point if the garden is the Rock of the Agony which has been covered over by the modern Church of All Nations, so called because of the world-wide contributions that enabled its construction.
It was here at Gethsemane that Yeshua came with his disciples to pray. Here he grew despondent and was tempted to find a way out, only finally to overcome the weakness of the flesh and accept the Divine Will. Betrayed by Judas, Yeshua was arrested by the soldiers of the High Priest and taken away for indictment.
The Western Wall was not actually a part of the temple. Biblical Jerusalem was built on the two hills:
The eastern Moriah and the Ophel.
Between them was a valley that has since been filled in by the debris of the destroyed Temple and was situated where the present plaza in front of the Western Wall is located. There is yet another reason why Mount Moriah has lost its hilly appearance.
The Western Wall is actually a retaining wall built by Herod in 20 B.C., surrounding the entire eastern hill which was raised with fill to form a flat plateau the level of Moriah’s summit. It was on this elevated plaza that the Temple stood at the time of time of Yeshua.
Ever since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D, Jews have gathered in pilgrimage and in prayer at the Western Wall, which became known as the Wailing Wall. Its cracks are filled with hastily written prayers for the speedy recovery of the sick, for the Peace of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah.
Western Wall Tunnel
Excavations of the Western Wall Tunnel started after Israel the old city during the 1967 war. The tunnels are those that have been created by numerous arches side-by-side supporting staircases going from the city to the Temple Mount.
In ancient times there was a shallow valley called the Tyropaean running along the Western side of the Temple Mount (now filled in due to constant demolition and rebuilding) that separated the rich Herodian quarter from the Temple, and it was the need to bridge this that cause the arches to be built. These pathways still hold up the streets today, and the tunnel goes directly underneath the Muslim quarter.
As you walk through the tunnel along the ancient wall, you can pause opposite the Holies of Holies, see a pavement built by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:21) and the foundations of the Praetorium (Matt. 27:27). This is a not-to-be-missed combination of the historical and spiritual that is unique, and yet so typical of the Holy City.
Old City Wall and Gates
The Old city walls are 4,018m Long, have an average height of 12m and are about 2.5m thick.
The present walls were constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1542 along the lines of the Crusader city and in some places on even earlier foundations. In the walls there are 34 towers and eight gates: Damascus Gate, the most ornate, where the road to Damascus used to start; the New Gate, built in 1887 to facilitate passage from institutions outside the wall; Jaffa Gate, originally the starting point of the road to the most important port town; Zion Gate, connection the Armenian Quarter with Mount Zion; Dung Gate, nearest to the Western Wall and through which much of the city’s refuse is taken to Kidron Valley; the Golden Gate, or St. Stephens’s Gate, through which Israeli paratroopers entered the City in the Six Day War and Herod’s Gate, in Hebrew called the “Gate of Flowers”.
Citadel (David's Tower)
The citadel, incorrectly called David’s Tower, overlooks Jaffa Gate on the western side of the Old City. Here Herod built some of his most impressive fortifications including the Tower of Phasael which with its large masonry can still be seen today just inside Jaffa gate.
A climb to the roof offers a magnificent view of the Old City, while the lower rooms contain an archaeological exhibition spanning Jerusalem’s long history.
Israel Museum/ The Dead Sea scrolls
Opened in 1965, the Israel Museum is many-faceted, housing collection of Judaic, Art, and Archaeology, the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden and – the pearl in the crown – the Shrine of the Book, which contains the Dead Sea scrolls. The white-domed exterior resembles the lid of one of the earthenware jars in which the scrolls were hidden in Qumran.
Despite the fact that the Museum is relatively very new, its collections rival that of many well-established museums the world over. Among the many gems are a seventeenth century Italian synagogue and another from Cochin, India.
The Youth wing is particularly active, with regularly changing exhibits, and the Museum has a full program if lectures, concerts and films.
Model of Jerusalem
The Model of Jerusalem at the time of the second temple is displayed at the grounds of Israel Museum. It was built before the reunification of the city. The 1:50 scale model was built according to the descriptions of Josephus Flavius.
Whenever excavations reveal new information, changes are made in the Model. The grandeur of the city at the time can be appreciated by viewing this replica
Yad Vashem is the Jewish people’s memorial to the murdered Six Million and symbolizes the ongoing confrontation with the rupture engendered by the Holocaust.
Containing the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is a leader in Shoah education, commemoration, research and documentation.
The museum is designed in the shape of a prism penetrating the mountain. A railroad car hangs over the cliff on the road winding down from the mountain.
The car was used to transport Jews who had been banished from their homes to the concentration camps, and now serves as a monument. The museum is divided into nine galleries that relate the stories of the Jewish communities before the Second World War and the series of events beginning from the rise of the Nazis to power, the pursuit of the Jews, their eviction to the ghettos and ending with “the Final Solution” and mass genocide.
The personal experiences and feelings of the victims of the holocaust constitute the groundwork for the museum’s exhibits. The exhibits include photographs, films, documents, letters, works of art, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos, and excerpts from children’s diaries. Visiting the Yad Vashem museum is an emotional and heartrending experience, but viewing the exhibits and remembering the holocaust and its victims is important to the citizens and leaders of Israel and of other nations.