January 16, 2018

Christmas in the Holy Land with Anthony Rivera (Dec 27, 2016 – Jan 5, 2017)

Tour Description

This incredible, comprehensive Holy Land Tour includes all of the key sites in Israel, such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Massada, Qumran, Jerusalem, the Mount of Transfiguration, Gethsemane, the Temple Mount, Calvary, and the Garden Tomb. We spend a little more time in Israel than many tours, seeing attractions that many miss.

$2499 + airfare (tips included)

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Holy Land Pilgrimage

A biblical scholar once said that if you haven’t been to the Holy Land, reading the Bible like watching a movie without any scenery, where actors have no costumes and read lines on an empty stage. But after a tour of the Holy Land, the Bible literally comes to life, like a big-budget movie. Walk where the Savior would have walked, see Bedouins on the side of the road that dress and live much like they did 2000 years ago, and smell and eat foods that the Savior and his Apostles would have eaten.

See many key sites from the Old and New Testaments and hear stories about these sacred places in a way that will help you visualize them like never before. Gain new insights into the scriptures that can only come first-hand. From a Christian perspective, if there is one place that should be visited in a lifetime, it should be Israel.

Tour Itinerary

*Please note that itinerary is subject to change and is under the discretion of the tour director and guide, and may be adjusted due to current circumstances/conditions, etc. Meals Included: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Day 1


Tuesday, December 27, 2016  We leave today for the ultimate trip to the Holy Land. Flights from our various points of origin take us to Tel Aviv Israel, where you will be greeted at the airport by our transportation company representative. We arrive the next calendar day.

Day 2


Wednesday, December 28, 2016 Our flights arrive in Israel today! We hope to have a little time after our arrival and pass through customs to visit Jaffa. Our stay this evening is in Tel Aviv. (D)

Day 3


Thursday, December 29, 2016 Our first visit is at Caesarea Maratima by the sea where Peter converted The Roman Soldier Cornelius. Also here, the apostle Paul made his brilliant defense before King Agrippa. We then visit Tel Megiddo. Here we explore one of Israels best ruins, with 20 levels of ancient city layered on top of each other. This city was on the main route from Egypt to Assyria, heading up the Mediterranean Coast of Israel and then through a mountain pass that Megiddo controlled. It was attacked in 1487 B.C. by Egyptian pharoah Thutmose III, and it is also where King Josiah of the Old Testament was slain. Meggido also overlooks the Valley of Jezreel/Armageddon. Next, we visit Muhraqa where Elijah the Prophet had his great encounter with the wicked priests of Baal. From this towering hill we shall have our best view of the valley of Jezreel where the final battle of Armageddon will be fought. Finally, we see Haifa, which is Israel’s main seaport. Elder James E. Talmage dedicated the Holy Land October 8, 1927 at Kaiser’s Watch on Mt. Carmel. John A. Widstoe did the same on May 21, 1933 setting up new missions and a mission home in Haifa. At a cemetery here Mormon missionaries are buried. We also overlook the stunning grounds of the Bahai temple, one of the most beautiful spots in Israel. Overnight is at the Sea of Galilee. (B, D)

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Day 4


Friday, December 30, 2016 After breakfast, we will visit the sites of the Lord’s mission in the Galilee area such as Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Tiberias. We will review the greatest sermon ever delivered as we visit the Mt. of Beatitudes, followed. We take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and pause to review the scriptures of Christ calming the sea and walking on the water. Then we visit Yardenet, the traditional site of Christ’s baptism. We Also, journey to Beit She’an, another fabulous Israel ruin. This place was also conquered by Thutmose III, and was later seen by Joshua as he spied out the land of Canaan. It was occupied by the Greeks after Alexander The Great, and then the Romans, who made it the capital of the Decapolis, the ten Roman Cities of the Middle East. Shoppers will enjoy the famous olive wood carving factory in Tiberias. (B, D) 

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Day 5


Saturday, December 31, 2016 Today we start at Nazareth, the childhood home of the Savior, where we see the Church of the Annunciation (traditional site where Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would bear the Son of God) and Nazareth Village, an open air museum that reenacts village life in the Galilee region at the time of Jesus. We also stop at Nain, where the Savior brought back to life the widow’s son. Our final stop today is Mount Tabor, the traditional site of the Mount of Transfiguration, where the Savior spoke with Elijah and Moses, and the Father. Hotel in Jerusalem. (B, D)  


Day 6


Sunday, January 1, 2017  Following breakfast, we visit the Temple Mount and such sights as the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Western Wall. Then, we continue on the south end of the Temple Mount to the Ophel Garden where Jesus would have traversed many times. There we will see the stone of the “Trumpeting Place” which was toppled off the Temple Mount during the destruction of Jerusalem at 67 A.D. We view the Old City of David and take a look at the pool of Siloam and Hezekiah’s tunnel. The Yad Vashem Memorial to the Holocaust is our final stop for the day. Dinner is again in Jerusalem. (B, D)  


Day 7


Monday, January 2, 2017 We start today at the Orson Hyde Garden on the Mt. of Olives. Here we review the history of his dedicatory prayer. We continue on to Mt Zion to St. Peter’s of Galicantu – the place where the cock crowed thrice – and Christ was illegally tried before the Sanhedrin. Next, visit the “upper room”, the traditional site of the last supper. See the model of ancient Jerusalem and visit the Shrine of the Book museum (a fascinating addition that many skip because of time constraints). In the afternoon, a tour of Bethlehem will be the key focus of today, birthplace of the Savior. We also drive by “Shepherd’s field” and sing Christmas Carols. Our stay is again in Jerusalem. (B, D)


Day 8


Tuesday, January 3, 2017 No Israel tour should miss Masada, where the last group of Jews held out during the Roman invasion of Israel at 70 A.D. We see it by cable car. We stop at the Dead Sea where you can take a float in the Dead Sea, and/or enjoy a mud bath. We also visit Qumran, where a shepherd boy found the famous “Dead Sea Scrolls”. In the afternoon we visit the site of Old Jericho (drive-by if ruins are closed to the public), and then the Mount of Temptation traditional site and the wilderness place where Jesus went before his mission. We stay again in Jerusalem. (B, D)

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Day 9


Wednesday, January 4, 2017 This is a most sacred day as we review the last week of the Lord’s life and His Great Atoning Sacrifice for all. Start the day visiting Bethphage, where Jesus’ disciples borrowed a donkey for the Lord to make his Triumphal entry into the Holy City. At the Garden of Gethsemane, the atonement of the Lord will take on a much deeper meaning for all who visit and contemplate, followed by a visit to the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. We then enter Stephan’s Gate and visit the Pool of Bethesda where Christ healed a man and then pass by Saint Ann’s Church. Finally, experience Calvary where the Savior was crucified and the Garden Tomb, where His body remained as His Spirit visited the Spirit World to organize the work for the dead. You will certainly feel peace as you walk inside the empty tomb and remember the words of the angel to Mary, “He is not here, for he is risen!”. We enjoy and our final night in Jerusalem. (B, D)

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Day 10


Thursday, January 5, 2017 Our various flights today take us back home (same day arrival in the USA).


If you have any questions about this tour, please contact Anthony here, and refer to tour code IL101E1601LDSARJ.

About Anthony Rivera

Anthony received a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University in Near Eastern Studies and then pursued a Master’s degree from Harvard in Ancient Cultures and Religions with a concentration on the Hebrew Scriptures. He completed coursework for a Ph.D. at UCLA on Middle Eastern cultures. He is a recipient of the Hugh Nibley Fellowship for Ancient Studies from the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and has worked for FARMS on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other scriptural projects. Anthony has published his biblical research and worked on books on ancient scriptures published by Deseret Book. He has been an Institute of Religion Instructor at Boston University, M.I.T., University of Massachusetts, UCLA, Saddleback College, and Long Beach City College. Anthony served a mission in Hamburg, Germany. He and his wife, Jill, have three daughters and reside in southern California. Anthony is also Chairman of a southern California Native American Tribe. Having learned Hebrew from the world’s top Rabbis, Anthony brings the bible to life with ancient Hebrew translations that often line up with Joseph Smith doctrines. The Holy Land with Rivera is like seeing a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, with all the costumes and scenery provided, accompanied by explanations given by a true, world-class scholar.