Caesarea Phillipi – This is the second of the three sources of the Jordan River and located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon. Caesarea Phillipi was also known as Banias and this was the a pagan area. When Jesus trained his leaders, he took them to this area. It is here that Jesus asks them, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’. We will explore why Jesus said that the “Gates of Hades will not prevail”.
Dan (OT site where the tribe of Dan relocated) – This city in the Old Testament is described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, it belonged to the Tribe of Dan. The city was first known as Laish but after it was conquered by six hundred men from the tribe of Dan took it was named Dan after their forefather. (Judges 18) This is also one of the three sources of the Jordan river. The excavators of Tel Dan uncovered a city gate estimated to have been built around 1750 BC. Its popular name is Abraham’s Gate, due to the biblical story that Abraham travelled to Dan to rescue his nephew, Lot. (Gen 14: 14)
Beth Shean (where King Saul’s body was hung on the wall) – “The Philistines came to strip the slain, and they found Saul and his three sons lying on Mt. Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped him of his armor … They placed his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they impaled his body on the wall of Beth Shean.” In the Bible the city plays an important role following the death of King Saul and as a major Israelite administrative centre. Eventually the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 but is a great and well preserved example of a Roman City.
Masada (ruins of a fortress built by Herod – his winter palace and the Jewish Fortress where 967 Jews committed mass-suicide rather than surrender to their Roman besiegers in AD70) – We will ride the cable car (the more adventurous can hike) to the top of Masada. During the First Revolt against Rome, the Jewish rebel forces under Menachen Ben-Yehuda overpowered the Roman garrison at Masada in A.D. 66. The number of Jews who came to live in the fortress increased in A.D. 70, when some of the leaders of the revolt left Jerusalem with their families before the city was destroyed. They lived at Masada for two years before the Roman procurator Flavius Silva began the siege in earnest. Using the Tenth Legion and thousands of Jewish prisoners of war, he built a wall encircling the mountain to cut off all supplies, as well as eight camps for the billeting of the soldiers. He then used the Jewish captives to construct a ramp from the eastern side to the walls, knowing that the defenders inside would not attack their fellow countrymen. On the first day of Passover in A.D. 73, the defenders realised that their situation was hopeless. They chose to burn their fortress and commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Romans.