This afternoon we arrived in Israel. My first tour was in 1967, a few weeks before the Six-Day War when Jerusalem was in Jordan. The traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was easily accessible. That changed after the War, and we had no access to the River until Jordan opened a site thought to be the location of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28). By 2006 we were able to visit the site.
Last year (2011) Israel opened access to the river, by special permission, on the west side. I understand the site is now open to anyone who wishes to visit.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)
This will be my eightieth foreign tour to direct in these past 46 years. Not all of these have been to Israel, but I’ve led tours to the land so central in the Biblical story almost annually except for those years when political conditions made it impossible. Occasionally there was a second tour the same year. I have made numerous personal study trips in addition to the tours I lead. I’m still learning, and still making efforts to see places I have not yet visited. Last year I spent about six weeks in the country.
Through this blog I have tried to share a little bit of information and a few of the photos I have accumulated. Over the next two or three weeks I hope to share a bit of the excitement of this tour.
Tell your friends about the blog.
At least three blogs are being written about the tour. You might enjoy them, especially if you know someone traveling with us.
Steven Braman — Braman’s Wanderings
Barry Britnell — Exploring Bible Lands
Trent and Rebekah Dutton
Our flight from New York was delayed due to bad weather in New York and connecting cities. We were too late to visit Joppa today. Trent and Rebekah Dutton arrived in Israel yesterday. I see they have already posted some information about Joppa.
Tonight all 39 tour members are settled on the Mediterranean coast at Netanya, Israel. Looking forward to a great day of learning tomorrow.
I hope your trip will take place for the better and that your group will be delighted to share your knowledge.
Netanya is close to Samaria, is not it?
On another day we drove north along the Mediterranean, turning east at Netanya. This took us across the fertile Plain of Sharon, and, after just a few kilometers, we were in the mountains of Samaria. Suddenly, right beside us was the hill on which once stood Samaria, the ancient capital of the northern 10-tribe kingdom of Israel. Driving up to it, we enjoyed a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and fertile valleys. At the top we saw the remains of what has been identified as Israelite King Ahab’s palace. Pieces of ivory found here, dating back to the eighth and ninth centuries B.C.E., testify to the original luxury of the palace.
(1 Kings 22:37-39; Amos 6:1, 4.)
good trip and write us often.
I love this. I plan on making it out to the Middle East one day soon. Nice read!