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Day 5 – Mt. of Beatitudes, Magdala, Mt. Arbel and the Mount of Olives

We departed the hotel and made our first stop of the morning at the Mt. of Beatitudes on the North West shore of the Galilee. We drove around the church to the banana plantation and found our way to the fields just below the church built at this site of Jesus preaching this most famous message. We read the passages from Matthew 5, 6 and 7 remembering how different the message that Christ delivered was from their expectations. They were seeking a change in the political circumstances, Jesus was talking about changing their hearts. We considered what it means to follow the principles of God’s kingdom and that we are its emissaries in the world today.Many of us enjoyed a nice 30 minute hike downhill for a change to the Tabgha site where Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves of bread.

Just a few more miles down the road we visited the recently excavated ruins of this 1st century village and it’s Synagogue of Magdala. Jesus taught at this place. In a rare instance in the Holy Land, you are actually able to put your hands, or feet, on a door threshold that Jesus would have crossed many times. We truly walked where Jesus walked!

We ascended the dramatic overview of Mt. Arbel. This is an 800 foot cliff that overlooks the entire NE corner of the lake. We hiked up the path to the top, and wow, what a view it was there.

We stopped in Beth Shean for lunch of Falafels and good conversation. On the way south we discussed the funny public bathroom habits of this ancient city where King Saul and his son Jonathan bodies were hung from the fortress walls.

Our bus drive Abraham then drove us south through the West Bank where our guide shared with us the challenges of the political situation in Israel and the region. After an hour drive we made our way up to Jerusalem. Once there we passed by the town where Lazarus was raised and made our way to the Mount of Olives for our first view of the glorious city of Jerusalem. Here we learned about the ancient, near ancient and modern history of this city that is claimed as a Holy Place by multiple religions. It was a great education and a stunning first view of the Temple Mount, the Old City Walls, Mt. Zion and the City of David. We all came away anxious to the walk the streets of what has to be the most captivating city in the world. Tomorrow the Dead Sea and the Desert Wilderness.

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