Scripture Sites

Beersheba

Beersheba ("the well of the seven") is mentioned in Genesis 21:22-34 as where Abraham made a treaty with the people of this area. Both Abraham and Isaac dug wells here (Genesis 21:30-31; 26:32-33). The expression "from Dan to Beersheba" defines the classic dimensions of the Israelite kingdom (Judges 20:1). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, and Joshua passed through here. Today Beersheba is the capital of the Negev (the southern desert) and is developing as a huge modern city in Israel. It is growing in its tourism, art centers, schools, the Ben Gurion University, museums, etc. It is inhabited by people from more than 70 countries. One of the most interesting things about Beersheba is the Bedouin market that has been taking place every Thursday morning, they say, for several thousand years. The Bedouin people from the desert and nearby communities bring their wares, and it is a spectacular sight to behold. Shopping is incredible.

BETHANY

Bethany is about two miles from Jerusalem on the southeastern slopes of the Mount of Olives. It was the place where some of the most important events in the life of Jesus took place. This is where He visited the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and it was the place where He raised Lazarus from the dead as told in John 11. During the final week of His life He spent at least one night in Bethany. (Matthew 21:17) It was in Bethany that Jesus was anointed by a woman in the home of Simon the leper as recorded in Matthew 26:6-13. We usually mention the fact that Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives, but Luke 24:50-51 reminds us that it was near Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesusí love and compassion for the poor is illustrated when you consider that the name Bethany means "house of poverty." A cave-tomb that used a rolling stone can be found there today

BETHSAIDA

Jesus fed two multitudes--one of 4,000 and one of 5,000 around the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida ("house of fishers") was built on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from Bethsaida. (John 1:44, 12:21) Bethsaida along with Capernaum and Chorazin went under the curse of Jesus, when they refused to repent (Matthew 11:21; Luke 13:10) It was uncertain as to whether this was a Roman or Greek city, until recent excavations revealed that it was an all Jewish city, and the ruins remain as they were 2,000 years ago when Jesus was there and healed a blind man. (Mark 8:22-26) Jesus fed a multitude nearby Bethsaida also. (Luke 9). Bethsaida is like going back 2,000 years and walking in the footsteps of Jesus, because the original stones of the street can be seen and walked upon.

ANTONIA FORTRESS

The Antonia Fortress is located in the northwest corner of the Temple area built by Herod. In this fortress you stand in the traditional site of the trial of Jesus, the abuse by the soldiers, and the sentencing by Pilate. Herod had named this fortress in honor of Mark Anthony. The western part of the Antonia was where the Pavement was where Jesus would have been tried according to the Scriptures. This was called the "Lithostrotos" which was used by the Roman soldiers for training, parades and games. We have here one of the last scenes of the life of Jesus on earth. It was here that He was mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns and condemned to death. The Sisters of Zion have preserved this area described in John 19 in their Convent. It was from here that Jesus started on the Via Dolorosa on His way to the Cross. The Roman games can still be seen carved in the stones where the Roman soldiers would mock a prisoner, make him a king for a day, and then put him to death. (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20)

BETHLEHEM

Bethlehem ("house of bread") lies 5 miles south of Jerusalem near a main highway to Hebron and Egypt. It was at the outskirts of Bethlehem that Rachel died at the birth of Benjamin as recorded in Genesis 35:16-19, and her tomb can still be seen today. The story of Ruth unfolds in and around the little town of Bethlehem. This is where Ruth met Boaz after the death of her husband and two sons. She became the great-grandmother of King David, and King David himself was born in Bethlehem around which he tended sheep. This is where Mary and Joseph came during the census 2,000 years ago, and the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem as prophesied in Micah 5:2 in the eighth century B.C. Matthew and Luke tell the beautiful story of that first Christmas when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They also tell of the angels, the shepherds, the visit of the Wise Men from the East, and the flight of Mary and Joseph and Jesus to Egypt to escape the death of the infants at the hands of King Herod. The traditional site of His birth is in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity. Before this church was built, the site had been identified by fathers to their sons down through the generations.

BETH-SHEAN

Beth-Shean was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis and in New Testament times was known as "Scythopolis." There is not a more strategic site in the whole of ancient Israel than this one. The city has been inhabited off and on for 5,000 years. It has been strategic because it is right at the place where two food-producing valleys join each other. Solomon used this city (I Kings 4:12) as one of his depots. Beth-Shean belonged to Issachar, and then it was turned over to Manasseh. Canaanites in this area made life difficult. King Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan, were killed in the battle against the Philistines at Mt. Gilboa, and their bodies were fastened to the city gates of Beth-Shean. After hearing of Saulís death, David wrote one of the most moving eulogies every put into words in II Samuel 1. The Philistines placed the armor of Saul and his sons in their pagan temple and "fastened his head in the temple of Dagon." (I Chronicles 10:10) The excavations at Beth-Shean continue to produce some of the most spectacular ruins anywhere in the world.

CAESAREA BY THE SEA

Caesarea by the Sea (to be distinguished from Caesarea Philippi) is located about 23 miles south of Mt. Carmel and 64 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The city was built by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus. It was said that the beauty of Caesarea rivaled that of Rome, so Herod named the city in honor of the Emperor in order to appease him. The ingenuity of Herod the Great is seen in the ruins of this city. He skillfully engineered a man-made harbor and made the city into the capital of Palestine in the Roman period. The ruins of Herodís palace have been excavated recently. There is a magnificent theater and an amazing aqueduct standing as testimony to a once thriving city of 80,000 to 100,000 people. Pontius Pilate ruled the land from the governorís palace in Caesarea. Peter preached to Cornelius and the Gentiles there. It was here that Paul appeared before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (Acts 23-26). Paul was imprisoned here for two years and sailed in chains to Rome for trial. In 1961 a stone was found in the theater with the name of "Pontius Pilate" inscribed upon it. Eusebius, a Christian historian was born here in 260 A.D. Incredible discoveries are still being made by the spade of the archaeologists in this fascinating Biblical site. Philip the deacon lived and evangelized here. (Acts 8:40)

CAESAREA PHILIPPI

Caesarea Philippi is located at the base of Mount Hermon northeast of the Sea of Galilee. It was most likely the farthest point north to which Jesus ever traveled. It is held as "holy ground," because this is where Simon Peter, speaking for the group of disciples, made his great confession of faith as recorded in Matthew 16:13-20. There is a spring here that forms one of the sources of the River Jordan. Caesarea Philippi was constructed by Philip, son of Herod the Great, while he was tetrarch in this region. It was a favorite site of the Greeks and Romans in their nature-cult worship of their god Pan. These were fertility deities worshipped in a cave from which came one of the main sources of the Jordan River. The name "Pan" was corrupted by those who could not say it, so it was called "Banias," the name by which it is often called today. Banias or Caesarea Philippi refer to the same place. Being here and letting this place speak to you as you read the Bible passage is an awesome experience.

CANA

Cana is a Galilean village located about five miles north of Nazareth. We quickly associate Cana with the first miracle of Jesus--the changing of the water into wine in John 2. However, there was another miracle performed in Cana as well. It was the healing-at-a-distance of the Capernaum noblemanís son in John 4:46-54. There is a church built over the old wedding banquet hall where it is said that the miracle took place. When you visit the church, notice the size of the water jars they used. The wedding could have been a friend or relative due to its being so close to Nazareth. Cana is also the hometown of Nathanael.

CAPERNAUM

Capernaum, while not mentioned in the Old Testament, is the most important city on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Jesusí time. It is located on the northwest shore of the lake, and it stood beside the Via Maris (the way of the Sea) going from Egypt to Damascus. The Romans set up a station for collecting taxes here, and this is where Jesus met Matthew and called him to be His disciple. (Matt. 9:9f ) Many of the miracles of Jesus took place in Capernaum, such as the healing of the centurionís son (Matthew 8:5-13), Peterís mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14), the woman with the issue of blood, and the healings in the synagogue itself. Peter took money from the fishís mouth here at Capernaum. (Matthew 17:24ff) Capernaum became the headquarters of Jesus in His Galilean ministry and was called "Christís own city." When the people of Capernaum refused to believe, Jesus pronounced a curse upon the city. (Matthew 11:23,24) Capernaum was the site of a Roman military base and was the reason for a Roman centurion being there. Incredibly interesting ruins still stand in Capernaum today that contain the stones that once reflected the echoes of the voice of Jesus.

CHORAZIN

Chorazin is two and one-half miles north of Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee. It was one of the three cities denounced by Jesus because they did not repent after His teaching. (Matthew 11:21) The "Moses seat" reserved for distinguished guests or the elder of the synagogue has been found in the ruins of the ancient synagogue among the black basalt stones in Chorazin (sometimes "Korazin"). Chorazin was famous for its wheat during the time of Jesus. Jesus evidently did miracles and teaching in this city according to the pronouncement of the "curse" over their refusal to repent.

CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER

Some Christians believe the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is built over the site of Golgotha where Jesus was crucified. In 331 A.D., Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, went to the Holy Land to find religious sites important to Christianity. She selected this site as that of the place of the Crucifixion. It was reported that she excavated here and found the tomb and the crosses of Jesus and the two thieves. Inside the church there today there are five communities: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Copts and Syrian Orthodox. The Ethiopian monks have their place marked on the roof of the church. It is believed that this part of the city was outside the city walls in the time of Jesus. One can see inside this church the Golgotha, the Anointing Stone, the Tomb, etc.

DEAD SEA

The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on the face of the earth--1290 feet below sea level. The dimensions and statistics concerning bodies of water will vary from time to time due to conditions. However, the Dead Sea is generally some 40 to 45 miles long and approximately 9 or 10 miles wide at its longest and widest spots. It could also be called the "dead end sea," because there is no outlet. Water can only escape by evaporation. It is fed by the Jordan River, a few springs, and the flash floods that sometimes come. It is shallow in the south and at its deepest in the north. No fish live in the sea itself. There is 15% more oxygen in the air than there is over at the Mediterranean. It takes longer to get a tan there due to the atmosphere and its depth. It is ten times saltier than the ocean, and one can literally sit on the Dead Sea and float without making any motions. The dry oxygen-rich air is good for respiratory conditions, and the high mineral content of the salty water is good for skin diseases of any kind. It was called the "Salt Sea" in the Bible. It is believed that Sodom and Gomorrah are underneath its surface in its southeast portion. Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:3,12; Joshua 3:16; Ezekiel 47:1-12.

EIN GEDI (sometimes EN GEDI)

Ein Gedi ("spring of the kid or goat") is a most beautiful setting. It is an oasis beside the Dead Sea. This is where David hid out from King Saul as described in I Samuel 23 & 24. It was a common place where fugitives often hid. There are sharp flat-faced cliffs sprinkled with caves and dens. There is a year-round waterfall, and the stream which issues forth is known as "Davidís Fountain." The fruitful vineyards and the beautiful growth of En Gedi are praised in Song of Solomon 1:14. Copper and ivory ritual artifacts dating back 5,000 years have been found in this area. There are palm trees and high grass as a result of the stream coming from the waterfall. David cut off a piece of Saulís garment, while the king was unaware, to prove his loyalty to the king showing that he had no interest in taking Saulís life. Mountain goats are a common sight around the area of En Gedi. It lies southeast of Jerusalem some 35 miles. The Amorites had lived here in the time of Abraham. Its mention is scattered throughout the Old Testament.

EIN KAREM

Tradition puts Ein Karem (or "Ain Karem") as the birthplace of John the Baptist about 4 miles west of Jerusalem. It is surrounded by olive trees here in what the Bible calls "the hill country of Judah." This is the traditional site of Maryís visit to Elizabeth as recorded in Luke 1:39-45. The site has been chosen partly because of its location as being within easy reach of Jerusalem, so that Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) could be within easy reach of the Temple. Tradition for this site being the place of the birth of John the Baptist has been supported by archaeological and literary documents. The evidence for traditional sites being authentic have strong support because of the accuracy of one generation passing down information to the next generation. There is a church there named after John the Baptist built over a cave where they say that Zacharias and Elizabeth lived at the birth of their son John. On the wall that faces the church, the Magnificat is written in 41 languages. Ein Karem is Biblical Beit Hakerem.

GALILEE

"Galilee" refers to the whole area in which the Sea of Galilee is located. It was a Roman province during the time of Jesus measuring 30 miles wide and 50 miles long. It covered more than one-third of the territory of Palestine sharing land to the north with Samaria to the south and in the middle and Judea to the south. It reached Mt. Hermon to the north to the Carmel and Gilboa mountains to the south. It had a "mixed race" of Jews and heathen and was looked down upon by the pure blooded Jews of Judea. Due to the mixed population they developed their own dialect and accent which made them easy to identify. (Matthew 26:69-73) All of the disciples except Judas were from Galilee. Upper Galilee was made up of mountains up to 3,000 feet, while Lower Galilee mountains were in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 feet. It is interesting to note that most of the recorded miracles took place in this area, and most of the recorded parables were spoken here in Galilee. The first three Gospels focus a great deal upon Galilee. Zebulon, Asher, and Naphtali occupied this area in Old Testament times.

GARDEN TOMB

Many Christians believe that the Garden Tomb is the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This is sometimes called "Gordonís Calvary" after the British officer who first spotted it in 1883. To him everything seemed to fit. It contained a garden as evidenced by a cistern (third largest in Jerusalem) and had to have belonged to a wealthy man (Joseph of Arimathea) as indicated in the Scriptures. It was "hewn out of the rock," since digging graves in rocky ground around Jerusalem would be very difficult. There is evidence of an earthquake as indicated to the right of the Empty Tomb. While the tomb was large enough for someone to sit in, it also required that one stoop as he entered as John 19 and 20 indicate in the sacred account. This tomb is administered today by the Garden Tomb Association based in England. Calvary itself is just short walk away and gives the appearance of a skull. However, this was once a quarry and a place of execution. The important thing, of course, is that "He is not here. He is risen." Archaeologists do say that this is definitely a first century tomb.

GEHENNA

One of the most prominent and interesting valleys around the walls of Jerusalem is the Valley of Gehenna, also knows as the Hinnom Valley. It is located on the west and south of the city. In ancient times children were sacrificed to the sun god Molech. (Jeremiah 7:30-32) It was so desecrated that it was used later as a reminder of those terrible days as the people of Jerusalem made it into a garbage dump. It was continuously burning and became a symbol of the fires of hell. (Matthew 18:8) The Valley of Gehenna supplied the imagery for the description for Sheol, the counterpart of the gloomy dark underworld of the Greeks and Romans. Its worms and fire and smoke represented the worst of worlds. Gehenna became the antithesis of the place called "Heaven." It was viewed as a valley of woe.

GETHSEMANE

The Garden of Gethsemane located on the Mount of Olives is one of the impressive sites that the Christian can visit. While it is comparatively small in size, it gives one the feeling of the way the olives trees must have looked in this garden 2,000 years ago when Jesus prayed there. Jesus often went here for retreats and prayer. (Luke 22:39ff) He was praying here the night of His betrayal and arrest. Among the trees in the garden there are at least eight trees whose age is lost in antiquity. They say that an olive tree never dies, and these trees are undoubtedly the trees or are from the trees that have been there before the time of Jesus. Some botanists claim they may be as much as 3,000 years old. If Titus cut down the trees on the Mount of Olives in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., surely these are the descendents of those trees that were there during the time of Christ. Although this is a place of supreme devotion, it is also the place where Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. Inside the Church of All Nations there is the Rock of Agony upon which it is said He prayed that "dark" night. Gethsemane means "oil press," reminding us that oil was electricity of the day as it was used for light as well as for the anointing of their prophets, priests, and kings. The disciples frequented this garden along with Jesus. A pause to remember in the Garden of Gethsemane is worth the trip to Israel.

GIDEON SPRING OR HAROD SPRING

Gideonís encounter with the Midianites takes us back to the spring where God instructed Gideon on how to choose his soldiers. The story is recorded in Judges 7. Harod Spring is where Gideon the fifth major judge of Israel gathered his army of 300. The Midianites, like the Amalekites, were desert nomads who raided the country of Israel destroying their crops and cattle and then plundering their homes. They would make their strikes and then return quickly to the desert. God reduced Gideonís army from 32,000 to 300 right by the waterís edge at this spring that you can still visit today near the hill of Moreh. Israel was then unable to think that it was by their might or power that the Midianites were defeated. Read the story in Judges 7 for details of how all of this was accomplished. Throughout Israelís history God showed Israel how He could take something small and do something great with it.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN INN

About halfway between Jerusalem and Jericho on the Jericho Road there is a place marked as the Good Samaritan Inn. Here in the Judean wilderness we find an old deserted caravan stop used for centuries as a resting place along the difficult journey going "down from Jerusalem to Jericho." Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 beginning at verse 30. The surrounding area lends itself well to robbers hiding out to prey on unsuspecting travelers as they went this way. Before 1967 the Jordanian police used this as a patrol station to watch the wilderness in the area. It is a fascinating and stimulating reminder that though the story of the Good Samaritan was a parable, it could have very well been someone that Jesus knew or knew about personally.

HAZOR

Hazor (means "an enclosure") is located north of the Sea of Galilee and near Lake Huleh (which is no longer a lake) and was the dominating city in this area controlling the main north-south route up to Damascus. It was near the only ford crossing the Jordan. It has not been fully excavated as is true of most sites in the Holy Land. New discoveries continue to make this area continually interesting. It is near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel and has been inhabited for 4500 years. In Joshuaís day it was an important military city. (Joshua 11:10) Battles were fought in this area during the time of Judges in the Bible. Solomon built it up as a strong military outpost. Jesus passed it on His way to Caesarea Philippi. Hazor had been a Canaanite stronghold when the children of Israel came to the Promised Land. Joshua captured and burned the city in the 13th century B.C. The city was fortified to withstand invaders from the north during the time of ancient Israel.

HOUSE OF CAIAPHAS

A church by the name of St. Peter in Gallicantu commemorating the crowing of the rooster at Peterís denial of Christ is built over the House of Caiaphas who was son-in-law of Annas, high priest in Jerusalem. Caiaphas became his successor as high priest and presided at a hearing of Jesus before the crucifixion. It was Caiaphas who made the now famous statement which led to the Crucifixion of Jesus: "It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people." (John 11:50) It is situated half way down the slope between Mt. Zion and the Pool of Siloam. Jesus was led from the house of Annas to the house of Caiaphas before being taken to the judgment hall of Pilate. There are some stairs up to the house, where they say that Peter was, when he made his denial of the Lord (John 18:25-26). Even the skeptical view this place in awe and reverence. Jesus spent the night here as it was the scene of His first trial or hearing. Peter denied His Lord three times before the rooster crowed twice. (When you visit this site, a rooster crowing in the Arab settlement nearby is a common sound.) There is a stone mill here, a dungeon, a courtyard, and quarters for servants to add to the setting of the steps that Jesus must have walked over at the left side of the church. The site was definitely within the walls of Jerusalem.

JERICHO

Jericho ("place of fragrance"?) is an ancient city located in an oasis 9 miles northwest of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley. It is considered the oldest city in the world to be discovered so far. It was the first objective to be taken by the children of Israel when they came into the Promised Land. The water supply is still known as "Elishaís Fountain" purified from brackish waters by none other than the prophet Elisha himself as told in II Kings 2:19-22. The crossing of the Jordan River and the invasion of Jericho is told in Joshua 4-7. Jericho is known for its abundance of sweet fruit such as bananas, dates, and oranges. The city is warm to hot in its location of almost 900 feet below sea level. Some scholars date Jericho to 8,000 B.C. Jesus healed a blind man (Bartimaeus) in Jericho as told by Luke 18:35-42. He also saved and changed the life of Zachaeus in the city of Jericho as we have written in Luke 19:1-10. Herod the Great had a palace in Jericho, and much of the history of the time of Herod can be reconstructed with the Bible, excavations, and history books of the day. Jericho was called the "city of palms" and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

JERUSALEM

Jerusalem ("City or dwelling of peace") is lifted toward heaven by the Judean hills and has been crowned the Holy City in all the earth for the past 30 centuries. It is a holy city to Christians, Jews, and Moslems. It is situated on a triangular plateau about 2,500 feet above sea level. This is where Abraham met Melchizedek, "priest of the most high God." (Genesis 14:18) King David took over this stronghold and made it the political and religious capital of the Jews in the tenth century B.C. The Prophets, as well as Jesus and His disciples, came to this beautiful city where the Temple stood. Solomon had built the Temple on Mount Moriah, one of the hills upon which the city is built. After it was destroyed the Second Temple was built and then reconstructed by Herod the Great. It stood here until its destruction in the year 70 A.D. In this "city of peace" more wars have been fought than any other city in the world. This is where Jesus taught, healed, ministered, died, and was raised from the dead. One of the Psalms of ascent says, "Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together." (Psalm 122:33) The city seems to have been inhabited from about 3,500 B.C. Zion is one of the hills upon which Jerusalem is built and serves as a name for the city itself.

The tribes of Israel came to Jerusalem three times a year so that they could all appear before God. (Psalm 84:7) Jerusalem is the herald throughout the earth for monotheism. "For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Volumes can be written on the history of this great city. It is the climax and highlight of a visit to the Holy Land. Why is it so important? The answer may be found in the thoughts of I Kings 14:21 "Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His Name there."

JOPPA

The city of Joppa dates back to the seventeenth century B.C. Its name means "beauty," and it is sometimes called "Jaffa" or "Yafo." In Joshuaís time it was called "Japho." It is the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean Sea between Acco to the north and Egypt to the south. Joppa became the chief seaport of King Solomon in the tenth century B.C. The Cedars of Lebanon used to build the Temple were floated from Lebanon to the north to Joppa to be rolled over land to Jerusalem for construction. (II Chronicles 2:16) The prophet Jonah sailed from Joppa to Tarshish as he attempted in vain to run from the will of God. Joppa is prominent in the New Testament as the home of a righteous woman Dorcas whom Peter raised from the dead (Acts 9:36). Peter was in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner when he had the vision of the clean and unclean things in Acts 10. Cornelius, who lived at Caesarea by the Sea, sent men to visit Peter at the house of Simon the tanner to ask Peter to come to Caesarea to explain the Gospel to him. Christian history was dramatically affected as Cornelius became the first Gentile convert.

JORDAN RIVER

The Jordan ("the river that rushes down") is the liquid backbone of the Holy Land. The river was a dreaded barrier to be crossed back in Bible times rather than a thing of beauty to be enjoyed. It flows from the south end of the Sea of Galilee (680 feet below sea level) to the north end of the Dead Sea (1290 feet below sea level) and twists like a muddy serpent through the Jordan Valley. The river is a part of a great rift, a fissure or fault, and flows through the "deepest ditch in the world." There are many whirlpools and falling cascades along its course. We are told that a "geological spasm" caused this river and the Nile long ago. It varies in depth, depending upon rain and snow amounts, from 3 to 10 feet deep, and a breadth up to 90 or 100 feet. It is impossible to navigate due to its formation. The Jordan River is the only river in the world that flows most of its course below sea level. In air miles it is about 60 to 65 miles long but twists around enough to make its distance go some 200 miles in length. This is the river that the children of Israel had to cross. (Joshua 3) It was in this river that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. (John 1:28-34) The river contains more than 30 species of fish like those in the Nile and in African lakes of which the Jordan was once a part. There are 14 species of fish peculiar to

KFAR KEDEM

Kfar Kedem is a village created in the hills of Galilee just outside of Nazareth near the 2,000 year old city of Zippori-Sepphorris. It will allow you to experience a village built like the ones in the days of Jesus. Bible stories will acquire new meaning as you eat traditional foods in a shepherdís tent, grind wheat and bake bread, press your own olive oil, stamp out the grapes of wine, see how they shear sheep, ride a donkey, and to get a "feel" of the past.

You can see a threshing floor and experience ancient history right on the spot.

Kfar Kedem is an effective teaching tool to help the Bible student "sense" Bible times. A visit here is unforgettable.

KIDRON VALLEY

The Kidron Valley runs along the east side of Jerusalem separating the city from the Mount of Olives. A seasonal stream runs through this valley, but it is dry most months of the year. Nehemiah 2:15 mentions this valley as the place where he went that night to view the wall that needed rebuilding. There was a road that ran from Jerusalem across the Kidron over the Mount of Olives through Bethany and on to Jericho. There are tombs from the Herodian period to still be seen in the valley including that of St. James and the Tomb of Zecharias. We are told that David fled across this valley from Absalom in II Samuel 15:23. Jesus crossed it when He would go from Gethsemane to Jerusalem as recorded in John 18:1. On the west side of the Kidron Valley is the Spring Gihon, the source of water for the city. This is the spring tapped by Hezekiah and run through his famous tunnel before the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem. The Kidron Valley is thought to be the Valley of Jehoshaphat where the judgment will take place as described in Joel 3:2.

The Moslems also view this as the place of judgment. There are many Jewish and Moslem tombs in the valley awaiting the judgment they say.

MASADA

Masada was a mountain fortress built by Herod the Great on a rocky plateau rising some 1400 feet high about two and a half miles from the western shore of the Dead Sea. This is where 960 zealots took their own lives rather than be captured by the Romans in 73 A.D. On top of this fortress built around 40 B.C. the elaborate buildings tell the secrets of Herodís lifestyle of luxury and fear. Sodom and Gomorrah are about 20 miles away. Masada is a table-top (mesa) with a view of the Dead Sea, the Wilderness of Judea, and the surrounding mountains. Herod had built two palaces there, bathhouses, storage space for food and water. It took the Roman Tenth Legion and attached units of 10,000 soldiers to overcome this fortress designed to withstand any siege. The story of Masada is inspiring, and Israeli soldiers are sometimes taken there before their final induction into the service to view the "sacrifice" they must be willing to make in serving their country in the military. The fortification is only 220 yards wide and a half mile long. They were able to grow their own food on top of this mountain and were able to trap the waters from the rains and flash floods of the winter seasons. It took the Romans three years to defeat the 960 zealots there by building a ramp to the top and breaking down the walls. When the Romans went inside on their "victory day," they were met with the silence of death. The proud oath of the cadets who go there today is, "Masada shall not fall again!"

MEGGIDO

Megiddo was in control of the Plain of Esdraelon and was its chief fortress city. Joshua mentions this city in Joshua 12:21. This is the city that has given "Armageddon" its name. "Armageddon" comes from two words, "Har" and "Megiddo"...the "hill of Megiddo." Its history goes back to 3500 B.C., and some 22 cities have been built on this site one on top of the other. It was a "chariot city" for King Solomon where he kept horses and chariots in this particular military district. Megiddo is 20 miles southeast of Haifa. Megiddo stood in the path between Syria and Egypt and was a strategic city to all the people living in the area. The tribe of Manasseh owned this territory. King Ahaziah died here in the middle of the ninth century B.C. (II Kings 9:27) The name occurs in Zechariah 12:11 and also in Revelation 16:16. Megiddo lies in the most famous battlefield in the world. More battles have been fought here than in any other battlefield. It was one of the royal cities of the Canaanites and was the scene of vulgar, sometimes brutal, pagan worship. Excavations show that the stables there could have cared for 450 horses and 150 chariots. The Via Maris (way of the sea) came by here making it a vital city along a main route. It was continuously inhabited from some 4000 years B. C. to 400 B.C. King Josiah also died here in the seventh century B. C.

Megiddo lies in the Valley of Armageddon and is believed to be the battlefield of the final conflict between good and evil. It is the classic battlefield of Israel. It is associated with the Plain of Esdraelon and the Valley of Jezreel. David, Joel, Isaiah, and Zachariah mention this place in the Old Testament.

MODEL CITY

At the Holy land Hotel in Jerusalem there is a model of Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago. The model is built on a scale of 1:50 and occupies a quarter acre of land. The construction took seven years of scholarly research to make this project look just like the Jerusalem of the time of Jesus. The visitor is given an opportunity to get an overview of the city with the situation of its buildings on the hills upon which Jerusalem was built. Just to see everything in its proximity to the Temple is a spiritual experience within itself.

MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

The Mount of Beatitudes stretches beautifully on the slopes going down to the Sea of Galilee. It forms a perfect amphitheater with incredible acoustics explaining naturally the setting of Jesus with the multitudes as He taught and performed miracles. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7) tells the story of this site. One can visualize how Jesus could have pushed out in a boat to teach the crowds on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus taught here what a "Kingdom person" was like. The Franciscan Sisters maintain a church on a portion of this property called "The Church of the Beatitudes."

It is a wonderfully beautiful spot to meditate and worship.

MOUNT OF OLIVES

Perhaps the most prominent landmark around Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives rising across the Kidron Valley to the east of the city. On its slopes lies the Garden of Gethsemane, and over its top on the other side is the little town of Bethany. It is about a mile long and some 2,641 feet high. Ezekiel calls it the "mountain of the east side of the city." (Ezekiel 11:23) Luke in Acts 1:12 says that it is a Sabbathís Day journey from the city of Jerusalem.

The view of the city from the Mount of Olives cannot be captured by human vocabulary. It must be experienced. It was here that Jesus wept over the city with a broken heart as told in Matthew 23:37-39. The Palm Sunday procession made its way across the Mount of Olives from Bethany and on through the Brook Kidron to the city. (Luke 19:28ff) Jesus spoke His famous discourse on the Second Coming on this mountain in Matthew 24 and 25. It was from this place that He ascended into heaven as we have described in Acts 1. The panoramic view of the Holy City from this mountain burns its way into the human heart. On its northern end is Mount Scopus where the present day Hebrew University is located.

MOUNT CARMEL

Mount Carmel is the scene of the monotheistic contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. Mount Carmel is actually a range of mountains that peak at some 1,742 feet at which point that famous altar was built. Carmel means "garden" or "orchard". It is near Haifa close to the Mediterranean Sea. It was known for its fertility with olive and fruit trees. The prophets referred to Carmel (Amos 1:2; Isaiah 33:9; Nahum 1:4) The area is watered by the Kishon River (Judges 4:7) which is still a landmark today. From the top of Mount Carmel one gets a breath-taking view of the Valley of Armageddon. Other religions had considered this mountain a holy place for hundreds of years even before the prophet Elijah. There is an altar of 12 stones in a chapel on Mount Carmel reminding us of Elijah taking 12 stones to build an altar according to the number of the 12 tribes of Israel. (I Kings 18)

NAZARETH

Nazareth was the boyhood home of Jesus. It was here that the angel announced to the Virgin Mary that she was to have a child. (Luke 1:26-35)

Until Jesus lived here Nazareth was of no importance and was not mentioned in the Scriptures, until it was associated with His life. Nathanelís words, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" reveal how insignificant it was during Bible times. (John 1:46) It was from here that Joseph left to go to Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus. (Luke 2:4) The city is cupped in the hills of Lower Galilee where it could watch the military and commercial traffic of its day. Joseph and Mary raised Jesus here in this town after their return from Egypt. Jesus received His religious training here at home and in the synagogue. He left Nazareth to go to His baptism and returned here after His baptism. There was violent reaction when He returned to preach here, and the first attempt on His life was made here in Nazareth. There was only one spring that supplied water for the town and can still be visited today and is known as "Maryís Well." There are many tombs and caves throughout the city. After announcing His public ministry here with its following violence, Jesus left the city, and there is no record that He ever returned to it after the Temptation. The name "Nazareth" was attached to Him by friend and foe.

(Matthew 21:11) One can visit the traditional site of the carpenter workshop and home as well as the Well of Mary.

THE POOL OF BETHESDA

The Pool of Bethesda ("house of mercy, house of kindness, house of grace" are all meanings of Bethesda) is a rectangular shaped spring-fed pool where Jesus healed an invalid. The pool was believed to have curative powers, and invalids would lie there until the angel of the Lord troubled the water. Then, the first to step into the water was healed. In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. The pool was 350 long and 200 feet wide and was a part of Herodís grandiose plan to augment Jerusalemís short water supply. Jesus became a target for the pious of the day, because He had healed this man on the Sabbath. The pool was decorated with porches and porticos and was 25 feet deep. The Pool of Bethesda is right next to the Church of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus. It is said that this church is built over the home of Anne and Joachim.

QUMRAN

The greatest archaeological find of the 20th century was made on the northwest corner of the Dead Sea at a place called "Qumran." In 1947 a young goat herder tossed a stone into a cave while looking for a lost goat and heard something break. Upon investigation he discovered there was pottery in the cave. Inside the jars were rolled up leather scrolls. After showing them to a merchant in Bethlehem, the scrolls were taken to the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. Other caves in the area were searched, and more scrolls were found. Some of the scrolls were sold to buyers at the Hebrew University as well as buyers who saw the offer in the Wall Street Journal. Evidently, the Essenes heard about the approach of the Roman legions and had hidden the scrolls in various caves. Thousands of fragments have been discovered in these caves with Scriptures on them which gave the world copies of the Old Testament and other writings that are a thousand years older than any manuscript we have had before. There were parts of every book of the Old Testament with the exception of Esther. The significance of this find is a confirmation of the accuracy of the copying of the Scriptures over the centuries. The oldest manuscripts we have had in some cases were only a thousand years old, and now we have manuscripts that date back 2,000 years and more. The accuracy and preservation of the Scriptures are amazing. The ruins in Qumran show a main building 120 feet long by 90 feet wide. There was a defense tower, a dining room in which a pile of dishes was found, and a most interesting scriptorium with benches, writing tables and inkstands. Cisterns for holding water were found also. A cemetery was discovered east of the settlement with 1100 graves. The most famous of all the scrolls found was that of Isaiah which is one foot wide and 24 feet long. Most of the scrolls were written on leather and papyrus, but two of them were written on copper. The scrolls are now exhibited in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

SAFED

Safed is the highest city in the nation of Israel at 2739 feet above sea level. It is important to the Christian, because tradition says that most likely this is the "city on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14-16) This was a Jewish stronghold in the war between the Jews and the Romans. The town can be identified from any direction and offered a prominent example of a city on a hill visible in all directions. Jesus spoke of such a hill in the Sermon on the Mount. It is clearly visible from the Sea of Galilee in its northern location.

Seeing this city on a hill at night gives "new life" to the words of Jesus. Jewish scholars lived in Safed in the first and second centuries. Any town in this area of Galilee reminds the Bible student that Jesus went throughout all of Galilee teaching and preaching in their synagogues.

SEA OF GALILEE

The Sea of Galilee is a heart-shaped or harp-shaped fresh water lake some 13 miles long and 7.5 miles wide at its widest point. In the Bible it is called by several names...Chinnereth or Chinneroth, Lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee. It is 60 miles north of Jerusalem. It lies 680 feet below sea level (the Mediterranean), and its depth is up to 160 to 180 feet deep. On its east side are the mountains of the Golan Heights which rise to over 2,000 feet. There are warm sulphur springs around the lake, and the sick have sought these springs for centuries for medicinal value. There were something like nine cities around the Sea of Galilee in Jesusí time with an estimated population of 15,000 in each. Jesus spent two-thirds of His ministry in this area where so many had come to the waters to be healed in the hot springs. Only the city of Tiberias remains today. The lake is still subject to violent storms (Matthew 8:24) due to the cool air coming down from the mountains on the east to mix with the warm air on the lake itself being so far below sea level. Jesus was closely associated with the boats, people, and towns around the Sea. The towns included Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, Magdala, and Gadara. The sea is still full of fish today as it was in the time of Jesus. Commercial fishermen still go out and fish all night. The beauty of the Sea of Galilee to the Christian is second to none. No wonder the ancients said, "Galilee is like a teardrop on the cheek of God."

TEMPLE MOUNT/MOUNT MORIAH

Beneath the seventh century Moslem Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, is Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up Isaac and where Solomon built the Temple. David had bought this hill top from Araunah the Jebusite (II Samuel 24:18-24) The Rock of Moriah underneath the mosque is 15 yards long, 12 yards wide, and rises to a height of 2 yards which Abraham used for the altar. Solomon built a Temple like no other shrine in the Near East. It was distinguished from all others, because it had no idol in its midst but contained a boxlike Ark as its holy treasure containing a pot of manna, Aaronís rod, and a Torah scroll. (Exodus 25:16ff; Hebrews 9:4) This was to symbolize the Law and the Presence of Yahweh. Solomon built the original Temple, which was rebuilt by Zerubbabel. Herodís Temple was a massive reconstruction of Zerubbabelís Temple, and both of these are called "the Second Temple." The Dome of the Rock is the third most sacred place to the Moslems following Mecca and Medina. No one can "house" God, but the Jews believed that by His grace He dwelt with his people. The Books of Ezekiel and Kings meticulously describe the Temple. The focal point of Jerusalem today, as well as in Jesusí day, was the Temple on Mount Moriah.

It had indescribable beauty as it lit up the countenance of Jerusalem. It was twice as large as the Dome of the Rock standing there today. The Temple is mentioned in 23 of the Old Testament books and 11 of the New Testament books. This was the platform for the preaching of the prophets as well as for Jesus and His disciples during New Testament times.

TIBERIAS

Tiberias, mentioned only once as a city in the Bible (John 6:23), is on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Sometimes the sea is called the "Sea of Tiberias." The city was established by Herod Antipas in 26 A.D. in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberias. It had beautiful palaces, theaters, and public baths over the hot springs. Josephus said that Tiberias was established on the site which was "the ambition of nature" it was so beautiful. It was built over a graveyard, and it was not visited at first by the Jews. There is no record that Jesus visited the city as such. After the fall of Jerusalem in 135 A.D., Tiberias became the seat of rabbinic learning where the Mishnah was completed in 200 A.D., and the Talmud was finished in 400 A.D. Vowels that are added to the Hebrew scriptures were developed here. It became the capital of Galilee with its strategic location on the major trade route from Egypt to Syria. One can still eat St. Peterís fish here and enjoy a meal similar to one of 2,000 years ago.

VALLEY OF ELAH

The Valley of Elah is located between Bethlehem and the Mediterranean Sea near the ancient towns of Libnah and Azekah. This was the route that the Philistines and others used to get into Central Palestine in ancient times. It was therefore a strategic location. It is most famous, because it is the site where David killed Goliath the giant as recorded in I Samuel 17. One can still visit the stream bed where David picked up the five smooth stones to use in his sling to slay Goliath. Although the stream is dried up most of the time, it is a good place to dramatize this famous event of almost 3,000 years ago.

VIA DOLOROSA

The Via Dolorosa ("the way of sorrow") is the path upon which Jesus walked carrying His cross to Calvary to be crucified. For centuries Christians have walked this street to remember His suffering and death. The Via Dolorosa starts at the Antonia where we find Pilateís judgment hall and ends at Golgotha the place of the skull. In the Sisters of Zion Convent can be seen the actual pavement that Jesus walked on 2,000 years ago. The Ecce Homo Arch is over the Via Dolorosa and marks the spot where they say that Pilate spoke the words, "Behold the man." Some say that Christians began walking this path almost immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus as they remembered His suffering. There are stations along the Way to the Cross that commemorate the events of that walk of sorrow.