Descend through the Judean desert to Jericho, oldest city in the world. Passing the Inn of the Good Samaritan and the "Sea level marker". At Jericho, see the ancient tel, Mt. Temptation and the sycamore Zachaeus climbed. In Bethlehem visit the Church of Nativity, the Catholic church of St. Catherine, the Greek church and Shepherd's Fields.
As we leave Jerusalem we begin our steep descent towards the Dead Sea passing the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).
After a brief stop at the “Sea level” marker we continue our descent to Jericho, the oldest city in the world, perhaps due to its luxuriant oasis and its proximity to the Dead Sea, an ancient source of salt. The crumbling Canaanite walls bring to mind the conquest of Jericho by the Israelite tribes, led by Joshua, who had just crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. (Josh 6).
Traveling from the Galilee on his way to Jerusalem Jesus passed through Jericho and it is here that Zachaeus, the short tax-collector, climbed the sycamore tree to better be able to see him. (Luke 19:1-10)
Towering above Jericho we will see Mt. Temptation, where Jesus, who had fasted forty days and forty nights, when tempted by the devil responded “Man shall not live by bread alone.”(Mat 4:1-4)
After leaving Jericho, we will return to Jerusalem and the Judean Mountains to visit Bethlehem (city of bread), hometown of Jesse, the father of King David (I Sam 16:1), and birthplace of Jesus (Mat. 2:1).
A short walk across Manger Square and we enter the well-preserved Byzantine Church of Nativity. First built in the 4th century, the original mosaic floor can be seen under the 6th century reconstruction. In the Grotto of the Nativity one can see the star indicating the place of the birth, the Manger and the altar dedicated to the three Wise Men. Exiting the Church, we enter the Crusader Church dedicated to St. Catherine and descend to the grotto where St. Jerome translated to Hebrew bible into Latin, the Vulgate. While still in Bethlehem we continue to Shepherd's Fields.