14 Days / 12 Nights
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From the Exodus to the New Covenant: A Two Week Pilgrimage to Egypt, Jordan and the Holy Land

 
 

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Departure from the USA I rejoiced that they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:1).

Our pilgrimage adventure begins with an overnight flight to Cairo.

Day 2: Arrival in Egypt, transfer to Cairo On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates’. (Genesis 15:18)

We arrive at Cairo International Airport. We meet the touring representative after passport control and board our bus for a transfer to the Hotel in Cairo, where we will remain for three nights.

Day 3: The Pyramids of Sakkara and Giza, Sound and Light Show So [the Egyptians] put slave masters over [the Israelites] to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. (Exodus 1:11-12)

In the morning we travel to the ancient capital of Memphis to see the Step Pyramids at Sakkara. We continue to Giza and the Pyramids of Giza. Cheops Pyramid, the largest of the three, was built in the 3rd dynasty about 2690 B.C. and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In front of the Pyramids of Chephren is the Sphinx, carved out of a single piece of stone. It has the body of a lion with the head of a man, and is thought to depict Pharaoh Chephren. Experience a camel ride by the Pyramids and visit the Papyrus Institute. After dinner we will have the opportunity to see the spectacular Sound and Light show at Giza.

Day 4: The Wonders of Cairo: Egyptian Museum, Citadel of Saladin, Churches, Mosques and the Bazaar We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. (Numbers 11:5)

This morning, we visit the Egyptian Museum, with the fabulous treasures of King Tut-Ankh-Amon and antiquities dating back 50 centuries! We also visit the Coptic Museum. Explore the famous Citadel of Saladin and enjoy a panoramic view of Cairo. We continue to Old Cairo to see the Hanging Church, the Abu Serga Church, and the Church of St. Mary where many people witnessed the Miraculous Apparitions of Blessed Mary. We will also visit the Alabaster Mosque. Stroll through the 14th century Khan El Khalili Bazaar and enjoy the sites and smells of one of Egypt’s busiest markets. We remember the flight to Egypt of the Holy Family as we celebrate mass at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

Day 5: Cairo, Suez Canal, St. Catherine’s Monastery, approach Mt Sinai Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’. (Exodus 19:3-6)

Starting early from Cairo, we board our bus and drive towards Sinai. Crossing the Suez Canal, we are reminded of the parting of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus. We drive through the desert, retelling the story of the Exodus. We approach the towering red granite mountains that include Jebel Musa, the traditional Mt. Sinai (or Mt. Horeb), with St. Catherine’s monastery. In the Byzantine Period, this entire area was populated by tens of monasteries and caves of hermit monks. We enjoy our evening meal and settle in for the night at Morganland Village.

Day 6: Mount Sinai, St. Catherine’s monastery, Gulf of Aqaba, Petra I want you to be quite clear about these mountains, reverend ladies my sisters, which surrounded us as we stood beside the church looking down from the summit in the middle. They had been almost too much for us to climb, and I really do not think I had seen any that were higher… From there we were able to see Egypt and Palestine, the Red Sea and the Parthenian Sea [the eastern Mediterranean], as well as the vast lands of the Saracens—all unbelievably far below us. (Egeria’s Travels (c. 380 a.d.) ch.3:8)

Before dawn, clad for the cold above, we ascend by camel or foot to Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb), walking in the footsteps of Moses and the devoted pilgrims who have tread this route for centuries. At the top is the traditional place of Moses’ receiving of the Ten Commandments. We reach the summit in time to celebrate an open air mass at the summit at sunrise. There may not be smoke and lightning as in Moses’ day, but as we take in the magnificent view, we can all turn inside to listen for Elijah’s “small, still voice” (1 Kings 19:12). After a careful descent, we return to the hotel and rejoin the group for breakfast. We spend the later part of morning touring the monastery, taking in some of the oldest surviving icons in the world, as well as the traditional site of the burning bush, from which God spoke to Moses. Following lunch, we board our bus and head towards the eastern shores of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea. At Nuweiba we embark on a fast ferry to Aqaba in Jordan. There we meet our Jordanian guide and drive for two hours to our hotel in the Nabataean city of Petra.

Day 7: Petra, Mountains of Moab, Amman In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The LORD alone led him; no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:10-12)

After an early Mass at our hotel, we proceed to Petra. Walk through the Siq, the main entrance to Petra to the Treasure (the one in the Indiana Jones’ movie!). We continue past tombs and burial chambers to one of the largest theaters in Jordan, carved into the Sandstone Mountains. Apparently some sacrificial rituals used to take place here. Then we walk uphill to the Royal Tombs for the view of the lower part of Petra and its Roman remains. Some may want to continue to the church of Petra and the Palace of Pharaoh’s Daughter, which is really a Nabatean temple. After lunch, we walk back to the entrance and board the bus, which travels through the Mountains of Moab to Amman. From these mountains, Balaam was commissioned to curse the people of Israel (Numbers 22-24), but God turned his curses into blessings. Amman was the Old Testamen Rabbath-Amon and the Decapolis town of Philadelphia of Jesus’ day. Overnight in Amman tonight.

Day 8: Amman, Mount Nebo, Madaba, Bethany beyond the Jordan, Allenby Bridge, Mt. Tabor, Sea of Galilee The LORD told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession… You will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32: 48-49, 52)

This morning, we drive to Mt. Nebo, from which God showed Moses the Promised Land. On a clear day, we can see the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem! Continue to Madaba, with its 6th-century mosaic map depicting the Holy Land as Christian pilgrims knew it then. We end the day at the recently discovered and excavated baptismal site of “Bethany beyond the Jordan” nearby. The site boasts remains of churches, water cisterns and channels, chapels and a prayer house, as well as mosaics. In the year 2000, it was declared a Holy Site by Pope John Paul the 2nd on his Millenium pilgrimage to the region. We then we proceed to the Allenby Bridge, crossing the Jordan near the place where Elijah and Elisha crossed at Beth Abara. After passport control, we meet our Holy Land guide and bus and continue to Tel Jericho, where we visit the remains of the world’s oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Heading north though the Jordan Valley, and turning west through the Valley of En Harod (Gideon’s Spring), we arrive at the foot of Mount Tabor, and ascend the hairpin turns of the road by taxi. We arrive at the top for a breathtaking view over the Valley of Jezreel, Galilee, Gilead and Samaria. After identifying the battleground of the Old Testament heroines Deborah and Jael (Judges 4-5), we enter the Church of the Transfiguration for Mass. As we reflect in silence before the altar, perhaps we too may hear Jesus, Moses and Elijah in deep conversation (Matthew 17:1-13). Descend the mountain and continue to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee.

Day 9: Sea of Galilee: Mt. of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Caphernaum, Caesarea Philppi, Boat Ride Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:1-3).

We begin with morning Mass at the Mount of Beatitudes, reflecting on the challenges of Jesus’ teachings. We then descend the hillside (twenty minutes by foot or by bus) to Tabgha (Heptapagon – Greek for seven springs), visiting the Church of Loaves and Fishes marking Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the Five Thousand (Mark 6:30-44) as well as the Church of the Primacy of Peter (John 21). We then visit Caphernaum, paying at the house of Peter and visiting the synagogue where Jesus preached (Mark 1). After lunch near the lakeshore (those who wish can savor “St. Peter’s Fish” native to the Sea of Galilee), we continue north through the lush Upper Jordan Valley and the foothills of Mt. Hermon to the headwaters of the Jordan at Banias – Ceasarea Philippi, where Peter acknowledged Jesus as Christ, Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:13-28), We ascend the Golan Heights and the flanks of Mount Hermon looking out towards Damascus, and then turn south, back towards the Sea of Galilee. There we board a wooden boat for Tiberias – sailing in the footsteps of Jesus!

Day 10: Cana, Nazareth, Mount Carmel, Caesarea, Jerusalem The angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favor. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus (Luke 1:30-31).

We begin this morning at the Church of the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine (John 2). Some couples may want to renew their marriage vows here! We drive to Nazareth to visit the Church of the Annunciation to celebrate Mass and to see the ruins of the ancient churches and the remains of the town of Nazareth of Jesus’ day. Continue to the Mount of Precipitation (Luke 4). We survey the Plain of Jezreel and the Old Testament sites of the battles of King Saul and the prophetess Deborah. We then drive towards Haifa, ascending Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. From here we drive to the City of Haifa and the Carmelite Convent of Stella Maris with its overview of the harbor and the beautiful Bahai Temple and gardens. We descend to the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea. There we visit the aqueduct, the ancient Herodian harbor, the remains of the seaside palace of Pontius Pilate and the theater. With the conversion of Cornelius by St. Paul (Acts 10), this impressive Roman city became the beachhead of the Christian mission to the Gentiles. Continue through the Plain of Sharon and the Hills of Judea up to Jerusalem. After a welcoming ceremony from the outlook point at Mount Scopus, we continue to our hotel, where we remain for four nights.

Day 11: Mount of Olives, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Dormition Abbey, Shepherds’ Field, Bethlehem Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 1:10-11).

We begin this morning on the Mount of Olives, where so many events in the life of our Lord took place. Visit the Chapel of the Ascension (Acts 1) and the nearby church of Pater Noster, where, according to tradition, Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Continue to the Mount of Olives outlook for the breath-taking view of the Old City. We descend the traditional Palm Sunday Road, to the Church of Dominus Flevit (Luke 19). As we gaze out on the magnificent walls and domes, we reflect on Jesus’ weeping over the city that has yet to know peace. Continue to the Garden of Gethsemane (Aramaic for ‘oil press’), meditating on the sorrow of Jesus the night preceding his judgment – ‘father let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thy will be done’ (Luke 21) We will marvel at the gnarled ancient olive trees and meditate in the somber Church of the Agony. Visit the Tomb of the Blessed Virgin. Then drive to Mount Zion to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, where Jesus may have been questioned before the High Priest Caiaphas, as well as the Dormition Abbey, built to honor the Assumption of Our Lady. This afternoon, we travel to the Shepherds’ Fields to rejoice over the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus and remember the faith of Ruth who gathered grain nearby. We then return to Bethlehem to visit the 5th-century Church of the Nativity and celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Massacre of the Innocents. Finally, we stop to shop for the famous olive wood and mother-of-pearl crafts that have been produced by the Christians of Bethlehem for centuries.

Day 12: Bethany, Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea, Qumran As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

After breakfast, we drive to Bethany, where Martha, Mary and Lazarus welcomed Jesus in their home. Here we visit the Tomb of Lazarus and hold Mass in the church of the House of Mary and Martha. We continue through the Judean Wilderness to the impressive desert fortress of Masada. We ascend by cable car to view the palaces of Herod and the site of the Zealots’ last stand against the Romans. We stop at Ein Gedi to walk up to the waterfall and see the conies and ibex. Standing under the magnificent waterfall, we will understand why this place inspired Solomon’s song to his beloved (Song of Solomon 1:14). After a short stop at Qumran, the ancient settlement where the Dead Sea scrolls were written, we have a chance to float in the Dead Sea, at the lowest point on the face of the earth! Return to our hotel in Jerusalem.

Day 13: Western (Wailing) Wall, Temple Mount, Pools of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulchre “He has risen!” (Mark 16:6)

This morning, we enter through the Dung Gate to visit the Western (Wailing) Wall, remnant of the Temple in which Jesus preached and a sacred place of prayer for Jews from all over the world. If we are fortunate, we may see Bar Mitzvah services in progress! We continue to the Temple Mount, viewing the Muslim Dome of the Rock, built on the site of the Holy of Holies of the Temple, and the Mosque of El Aqsa. This afternoon, we visit the Pools of Bethesda and the Church of St. Anne (hymn sing!). Beginning at the Chapel of the Flagellation, we then proceed up the Via Dolorosa. As we make our way past the fourteen Stations of the Cross, we reflect on Christ’s suffering and sacrifice, and the gift of his blood. We enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, proceeding to the Hill of Golgotha, the Chapel of the Skull of Adam, and the empty Tomb. In the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament chapel alongside the tomb, we conclude our pilgrimage with the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. He is risen indeed!

Day 14: Depart for Home by way of Emmaus Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’ (Luke 24:32)

This morning, we leave the hotel for the airport and the flight home to the USA. Flight hours permitting, we will stop at Emmaus to celebrate Mass at the site of the post- resurrection revelation of Jesus to his disciples (Luke 24). We return home enriched with the blessings of pilgrimage and ready to share our faith experiences with family and friends.

© Faith Journeys LLC Author: Dr. Jackie Feldman, Ben Gurion University, Beersheba, Israel

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a rare and privileged event. Every person of faith should make such a trip a priority in one's life. However, great care is needed to make sure the experience reflects the intent of the traveler. Without careful planning, advanced preparation and attention to details while in the Holy Land, the pilgrimage can fall short of expectations. Faith Journey's is a trusted, experienced partner who can make sure your journey is a critical step towards a deeper communion with Our Savior and his people.
Deacon Bill Garrett, Archdiocese of Atlanta and President Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School