In an abundance of caution, we have decided to postpone the Biblical Archaeology study tour. The new dates are Monday, May 4th to Friday, May 15th, 2021. Dr. Dudu Cohen, an Israeli archaeologist and guide, will lead the tour.  We will update this webpage when details have been finalized.


The Bible in its Land:

Biblical Archaeology in Israel


Monday, June 1st to Friday, June 12th, 2020



Tour Led by

Gary A. Rendsburg


Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History

Rutgers University


Dudu Cohen

Archeologist and Licensed Guide






Jewish history begins in the land of Israel, where the Bible was written and where modern archaeology reveals the ancient past.  Our tour will bring these two aspects of early Judaism to life, as we explore the land “with the text in one hand and the trowel in the other.”  We will focus on both the biblical period and the immediate post-biblical or Greco-Roman period, with visits to archaeological sites in Jerusalem, Qumran, Masada, Megiddo, Caesarea, and more.  We also will enjoy several exquisitely beautiful natural sites (Gamla and Ein Gedi), untouched since biblical times.  An outing to the Israel Museum is included in our itinerary, where we will see such items as the “House of David” inscription found at Tel Dan and the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the caves at Qumran.  Plus, there will be some free time to explore Jerusalem on your own.  All this and more during our study tour of the land of Israel.    





Monday, June 1st – Day One – Depart for Israel


The group flight will depart from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Ben-Gurion International Airport. Departure scheduled for 9:00 pm.


Jerusalem Cityscape

Tuesday, June 2nd – Day Two – Arrive to Israel / Jerusalem



Those coming from EWR on the group flight will arrive to Ben-Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv and make our way up to Jerusalem. Arrival scheduled for 2:25 pm. 


We will arrive in Jerusalem in the late afternoon and check-in to the hotel.


Yerushalayim harim saviv lah “Jerusalem, the mountains surround her,” states Psalm 125:2 – so there is no better way to “meet” Jerusalem than to stand on the surrounding mountain tops and to enjoy the vistas of the city, both ancient and modern.  We will stand on Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives, and the Haas Promenade, in order to view the city from three different directions (north, east, and south, respectively).  Plus, we will drive the outer perimeter of the current Old City walls, built 1537-1538 during the early Ottoman period, as a further way of orienting ourselves to this very special and historic city. There will be a stop at the Jaffa Gate to learn about the complexity of the history of Jerusalem and the Old city wall.



After time to relax and get settled-in, the group will meet for an early evening Orientation and Welcome Dinner.


Meal: Welcome Dinner


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

David's Tower

Wednesday, June 3rd

Day Three – Jerusalem


We will spend the day visiting Jerusalem’s major archaeo-logical excavations.


Morning:       Morning:

After breakfast, we will see some of the most important archaeological sites in Jerusalem.



The morning’s itinerary will include the City of David excavations (with the recently discovered palace of King David).


We will explore the Second Temple period excavations at the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount (the Western Wall itself, Robinson’s Arch, mikveh installations, staircases, etc.). 


After the tour, there will be free time to visit the sites in the Old City on your own (we will help you get your bearings). The motor coach will return to the hotel after the tour via the city center.


In the late afternoon, we will have our first Learning Session on THE HISTORY OF JERUSALEM.



We are at leisure.


Meal: Breakfast


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem



Thursday, June 4th  –

Day Four –

Dead Sea Area


We will spend the day visiting Qumran, Masada and Ein Gedi, the three most important archaeological sites in the area. Don’t forget your walking shoes and hat. 



After an early breakfast, we will travel to the Dead Sea region. We will go through the Judean Desert east and south of Jerusalem, to reach the shore of the Dead Sea.


Our first stop will be Qumran, the site of an Essene community whose precious possessions were the 900-plus documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the caves above Qumran.


We will then travel to the nearby mountain fortress of Masada, home to Herod’s winter palace and the last stronghold of the Zealots during the Great Revolt against Rome. After taking the cable car to the top of this mountain fortress with its magnificent view, we will have our second Learning Session on THE ANCIENT JEWISH SECTS:  SADDUCEES, PHARISEES, ESSENES, AND ZEALOTS.



We will have lunch on our own at the Visitors Center, at the foot of the mountain. 


Afterwards, we will stop in the desert oasis of Ein Gedi.  Known for both its natural beauty, an oasis in the desert, and for the Byzantine-period synagogue found there, replete with exquisite mosaic floor. Afterwards, we will take a dip in the Dead Sea before we leave the Dead Sea Region.


We will return to Jerusalem and you will some free time to relax or explore the city on your own.



We will have dinner together at one of Jerusalem’s fine restaurants.


Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem


Bible Lands Museum

                  Friday, June 5th – Day Five – Jerusalem


Today we will focus on some of the institutions in Jerusalem that are directly related to our topic before welcoming in Shabbat.



After breakfast, we will take the short ride to the Givat Ram campus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, home to the National Library of Israel. We will go behind the scenes and look at some of the rare volumes that reveal the history of archaeology in the country.


Our next stop will be the nearby Bible Lands Museum. Founded in 1992, the museum holds one of the largest private collections of Biblical era archaeological finds in the world.



We will mix with the Jerusalem citizenry as they share in the ritual of buying fresh food before Shabbat in Machne Yehuda. The rest of the afternoon is free to have lunch (perhaps great hummus nearby) on your own and wonder around the city.



We will enjoy Erev Shabbat dinner together at the hotel.


Meals: Breakfast and Erev Shabbat Dinner


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem


Testimonial by Martha Friedman and Harold Heft of Princeton, NJ

on the 2016 Biblical Archaeology Study Tour

with Gary Rendsburg and Dudu Cohen

Israel Museum

                      Saturday, June 6th – Day 6 –

                     Shabbat in Jerusalem



Before breakfast, there will be ample time to attend Shabbat services at a local synagogue: The Great Synagogue (Orthodox), The Center for Conservative Judaism, and Hebrew Union College (Reform). Breakfast is served later   in morning.


There will be the option to pre-order lunch at the hotel.



We will then leave from the hotel for a the one-hour walk that takes us through some of the city’s most beautiful residential areas to the Israel Museum where Dr. Rendsburg will lead you on a tour focusing on the archaeology of Israel. You may opt to take a taxi to the Museum and back.



Motzei Shabbat is free for exploring on your own.


Meals: Breakfast


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem


Golan Hts. Winery

Monday, June 8th

Day Eight –

Gamla & the Golan Heights


Morning:        Morning:

After breakfast, we will take an hour ride on our motor coach to Gamla. It is believed that the area has been populated since the Early Bronze Age, but it’s relevance to our narrative begins in the late 2nd century BCE. Josephus, the famous Roman chronicler, reported that the city was a rebel stronghold. While visiting the area, we will learn about the Golan’s importance in modern Israeli history.



After lunch on your own en route, we will visit Katzrin. We will stop the kibbutz. We will also visit the Golan Heights Winery. It is Israel's third largest winery and was named New World Winery of the Year in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.


In the late afternoon, we will go to Ein Gev for an early fish dinner together.


Afterwards, we will take a leisurely boat ride across the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to Tiberias



You are at leisure to relax in the hotel or explore Tiberias on your own.


Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar





Bet She'an

Sunday, June 7th

Day Seven –

Bet She’an/Belvoir/

Bet Alpha/Tiberias



After an early breakfast and check-out, we will head north along the country’s border with Jordan to visit two sites from two different historical periods, Bet She’an and Belvoir.


We will begin our touring with a visit Bet She’an, the best-preserved city from Roman times in the land of Israel.  The entire city lies before the visitor, including its central streets, theatre, bathhouse, amphitheater, and more, with architectural detail visible throughout.



After a stop for lunch on your own, we will visit Belvoir, a Crusader fortress with a breath-taking view of the Jordan Valley. “Belvoir” literally means “beautiful view” is also known as Kochav HaYarden in Hebrew or "Star of the Jordan."


We will also visit the synagogue at Bet Alpha with its world-famous mosaic floors that features the Zodiac.


We will arrive to Tiberias in the late afternoon.  After check-in to our hotel, there will be time to relax before the evening’s program.



We will enjoy dinner together at the hotel. 


Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar




Mosaic at Sephorris

Tuesday, June 9th – Day Nine –

Sephorris and Beit She'arim


Today we will visit the large archaeological site at Sephorris and Beit She'arim 



After breakfast, we will depart for Sephorris, where Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, compiler of the Mishnah, and major figure in early rabbinic Judaism lived and prospered.  Sephorris reveals both a very Jewish city, with a large synagogue, numerous mikveh installations, and more, and a very multicultural city, with a theatre, a marketplace, and villas and mansions decorated with the most exquisite collection of mosaic floors found anywhere in the country.  The waterworks which bring fresh water from the surrounding springs constitute a masterwork of ancient engineering.  From the site we can see Nazareth a few miles away, which affords us an opportunity to talk about Christianity as an offshoot of early Judaism. 



After lunch on your own in Afula-known for its fabulous falafel-we will travel to Beit She'arim with its many burial caves. It is the site of thousands of Jewish burials spread throughout twenty catacombs.


During our day’s touring, we will have an on-site Learning Session (#3) on THE RISE OF RABBINIC JUDAISM.


We will return to Tiberias in the late afternoon.



After dinner at the hotel, you are at leisure.


Meal: Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar






Wednesday, June 10th – Day Ten – Megiddo


Today we will focus on the world-famous archaeological site  at Megiddo.



After breakfast, we will enjoy our fourth Learning Session on THE MAXIMALISTS & MINIMALISTS IN THE STUDY OF ANCIENT ISRAEL. Afterwards, we will check-out and begin out touring.


We will go to the impressive archaeological site at Megiddo. It sits on an international crossroads and the current site sits on 25 archaeological strata, whose remains include the underground water system, a massive Canaanite altar site, Solomon’s stables, and the imposing gate complex.  From atop the mound we will enjoy the view of the Jezreel Valley, thereby appreciating the city’s strategic value. 


In fact, so many battles were fought at or near Megiddo during its history, it was only natural for apocalyptically minded people to create the term ‘Armageddon’ to refer to the final cataclysmic battle. 



We will then depart for Tel Aviv, arriving  in the late afternoon for check-in to our hotel near the Mediterranean. We will stop en route for lunch on your own.


Evening: We are at leisure to sample some of the city's fine food.


Meal: Breakfast


Overnight: Dan Panorama, Tel Aviv


2016 Group at Caesarea with Gary, Dudu and Moshe




Thursday, June 11th – Day Eleven – Caesarea and Return to the U.S.


Our study tour draws to a close with a visit to the ancient seaport excavations at Caesarea on the Mediterranean.  We then have free time in Tel Aviv before our Farewell Dinner, and we head to the airport for our red-eye flight back to the U.S.



Caesarea is the perfect place to end our tour, as we look out at the Mediterranean Sea.  The city was built afresh by Herod, to serve as a Roman city within the land of Israel, and all its architectural wonders are still easily visible:  Herod’s palace, theatre, amphitheater, harbor, temple to Jupiter, and more. 


We will have our fifth and final Learning Session on EARLY CHRISTIANITY AS A JEWISH MOVEMENT amidst the ruins of Caesarea.


Professor Rendsburg participated in the excavations of Caesarea in 1999, so the site has a special place in his heart.



We return to Tel Aviv so you can have time to relax or do some shopping.



We will get together for a festive Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant followed by a Wrap-Up Discussion led by Professor Rendsburg and Dr. Cohen.         


We then depart for the airport for the red-eye flight back to the United States.


Meals: Breakfast and Dinner


                   Note that there is a late check-out by 6:00 pm     


Friday, June 12th – Day Twelve – Arrive in the U.S.


We are scheduled to arrive to Newark Liberty International Airport early Friday morning.


This Itinerary is Subject to Change


Please Note:  We will be doing light hiking for short distances during the study tour and walking on Shabbat in Jerusalem (taking a taxi is optional for this walk).  This program, therefore, should be considered to be moderately difficult physically.


Our Scholar


Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology.  His secondary interests include post-biblical Judaism, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. 


Rendsburg’s most recently published book is How the Bible Is Written (2019), with particular attention to the use of language to create literature.  In addition, he has produced two lecture series for the Great Courses program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. 


Rendsburg has visited all the major archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan; he has excavated at Tel Dor and Caesarea; and he has led tours of both Israel and Egypt.  Previously he taught at Cornell University, and he has served as visiting professor or visiting researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Colgate University, UCLA, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, and the Hebrew University. 


"Truth in advertising--I'm a Gary Rendsburg fan and have audited several of his courses at Rutgers.  If you go on the archeological tour of Israel with him and Dudu Cohen, you are in for a real treat.  Gary is a scholar, not only of Jewish history from biblical to Medieval times, but also an expert on biblical text as literature.  He is able to bring the past alive through his excellent lectures with powerpoint during the trip and also his vivid descriptions of the sights you will see.  Dudu Cohen, who serves as the local Israeli guide, is an archeologist who has worked at some of the sites you will visit.  A highlight for me occurred in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem when Dudu pointed to an artifact that he said he had dug up.


As for the places themselves, you will see floor mosaics from synagogues in the Roman era, with biblical themes, signs of the zodiac and names of donors.  You will see ancient cisterns for storing water in that very arid landscape, and the ruins of a Roman era city.  Gary and Dudu will bring ancient stories alive."


Margaret Cohen

Metuchen, NJ


Our Archaeologist/Guide

Dudu Cohen, Ph.D. earned his degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: B.A. in Geography, M.A. in Archaeology and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. 

He has been a licensed guide since 1972. He served as a navigator in the paratroop brigade of the IDF. He was a high school teacher for Bible & Jewish History. He later served as a Youth-Aliyah Shaliach in Chicago. As a researcher, Dudu is a permanent contributor for Projects TABS – ( Dudu lists among his discoveries: 'Waheb in Suphah' (Numbers 21:14), the ancient pass of the Arnon Canyon; and the Via Limes Arabicus – the Eastern Roman frontier road in Jordan.


Our Tour Escort

Moshe Margolin is the  founding Director of  JEWISH EXPLORATIONS. He holds degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Teachers College, Columbia University.

His career in the field of Jewish Education spans four decades. He has held senior positions in both the United States and in Israel including the founding VP of Education for Birthright Israel and the Program Officer at the Fulbright Commission at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. He has been associated with The Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew College in Boston and The Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. Moshe is married with three grown children and three grandchildren. He recently served as the Tour Escort on study tours to Morocco and Charleston/Savannah.



The newly-renovated Dan Panorama Hotel Jerusalem is located in the heart of the city.


It has earned the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.


The Leonardo Plaza Tiberias is located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Enjoy dinner at the Herod’s Restaurant or just relax on the beach with a book. Enjoy the pampering hotel service, nature and sea treasures in an exclusive atmosphere. Modern rooms, generous service and balconies overlooking the Sea of Galilee make your stay at Leonardo Plaza Tiberias an unforgettable experience.


The Dan Panorama Tel Aviv is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.



It has earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.











Airfares are not yet available. We will need a minimum

of 10 people in order to conduct a group flight



The price includes:



All hotels and activities as cited in the Itinerary.


Meals (hotel breakfasts daily and 6 dinners as indicated). Bottled sparkling and still water with included meals.


Bottled water on the bus.  


The services of our Scholar.


The services of an Archaeologist/Licensed Guide.


The services of an experienced Tour Escort.


Tips for meals provided.


Tips for the guide and driver.


Airport transfers as noted.


The price does not include:


Expenses of a personal nature.


Meals not included in the Itinerary.


Travel insurance—highly recommended—available through the Gil Travel Group.










A $500 deposit per person is required upon Registration.





Available as part of the Online Registration process.



For Travel-Related Questions:

Contact Ariel Lipszyc

Gil Travel Group

800-223-3855 x 239



For Program Questions:

Contact Moshe Margolin, Director

Jewish Explorations





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