Every two or three years, my church would organize a Holy Land trip led by our Pastor. I always get enthusiastic and excited when the organizers promote the next trip by showing videos & pictures, telling stories of their last successful trip. Then, those friends and church members who signed up to go would make plans & discuss what they will see, feel and eat when they get there. I am ashamed to admit that I do feel a little envious of them because I knew that again I could not go with them.
Many cannot afford to go to Israel and tour the sites of the Bible. Some, like myself, are unable to travel due to health problems. So, we are left to wait for them to send postcards of their adventure which is nice. However, I would have loved to see where Jesus himself walked and make some kind of connection. Fortunately, the Lord had given me a way to connect vicariously with the help of technology and an active imagination.
For years, I have been a vicarious* tourist of the world without leaving the comforts of my bed. I travel using the online programs Google Maps / Google Earth.
[*vicarious – experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another]
I have enjoyed visiting numerous country sides, cities and towns of several countries. I may have not been there physically, but with a little imagination I was as good as there. I especially include my the time exploring the Holy Land. It’s kinda funny, but I believe that in my virtual tour, I visited more sites than those who actually visited there. I don’t mind telling all of you that finding these biblical sites even though I was only there vicariously was to me quite enriching. So, I wanted to see if I can guide other people to what I discovered and see how they react.
During the last Christmas Season, I invited my small discipleship group and my niece with their respective kids to join me on a virtual Christmas tour of discovery. We went to see where the angel Gabriel visited and gave good news Zechariah & Mary. We went from the northern region of Galilee down to the hillsides of Bethlehem where the angel appeared to the shepherds. We went as far as Egypt where the infant Jesus was carried to… away from Herod’s murderous clutches. I also brought them to the ruins of Babylon to illustrate where the magi may have come from. Because they were able to navigate the different locales using Google Maps/Street View controls, they expressed enjoyment like as if they were there themselves.
Well, Holy Week is at hand and I have it in mind to set up a way for others to either…
 join me in an even more extensive guided tour of the sites of the Bible as me as your tour guide via ZOOM…
 to go touring on their own using itinerary guide modules that I will provide here in my website.
But before we can go ahead with our tour, I am sure that many of you don’t know how to implement Google Maps or Google Earth. So, I encourage you to watch the video below. Then spend some time to experiment and practice… practice… practice.
Youtube have other extensive videos on this subject, feel free to search them out.
Well, I’m assuming that you have learned how to use Google Maps with it’s Street View functions. Let’s go touring!
6 Itinerary Modules
Google Maps Tour of the Bible will be organized into 6 itinerary modules.
In this first module, we look into the sites described in the Old Testament where the patriarchs of old walked. We’ll start in the land of Ur or modern day Iraq where Abraham originally hailed from and end at the Nile delta of Goshen where Jacob brought his entire family to save them from a draught.
The second module will trace the footsteps of Moses leading his people out of bondage of Egypt. One of the things we will look at are the two possible crossing points of the Red Sea and locations of Mt Sinai. We will also look at the wilderness where the tribes of Israel wandered for 40 years.
In the third module, we will visit the sites where the Judges walked. We will see where Gideon defeated an army of 10 thousand with just 300 men; where God used one man to humble the Philistines; and how the Ark of the Covenant was captured.
In the fourth module, we will visit the sites where the Kings & the Prophets . We will see where David slew Goliath; where Elijah confronted 400 Baal priests; and where Solomon gained his great wisdom.
5 – Walking the footsteps of Jesus
In the fifth module, let us go see where Jesus went fishing with his disciples; where he gave the Sermon on the Mount; where he changed water into wine; and also see the garden where he sweated blood. We will also walk around a large model replica of the city of Jerusalem when Herod ruled. Because Jesus covered a lot of ground, Module 5 is divided into 2 parts.
In the sixth and final module, we will follow where the Holy Spirit led the disciples from Judea to Turkey, Greece and eventually all the way to Rome. Some of the places we will see are where the Apostle John wrote Revelation; where Jesus’ mother eventually lived in her old age; where Jesus caused Saul to be blind on the road to Damascus; and much more.
About the Guided Tours:
Guided tours will be conducted via ZOOM.
Each module session may run up to 1.5 hours (max 2 hours).
Viewing of Google Map links will work better on Laptops/Desktops.
— Cell phone viewing is possible, however keep in mind that you will be navigating on 2-3 open windows.
To join guided tours, contact Rhon Bautista, head librarian of Union Church of Manila
Holy Week Tour:
[* Manila time]
Module 1 – April 9 Saturday – 2pm*
Module 2 – April 9 Saturday – 5pm*
Module 3 – April 10 Sunday– 2pm*
Module 4 – April 10 Sunday– 5pm*
Module 5 – April 13 Wednesday – 5pm*
Module 5a – April 14 Thursday – 5pm*
Module 6 – April 23 Saturday – 5pm*
If you want to schedule other group guided tours, please contact Rhon Bautista – firstname.lastname@example.org or scan the QR Code below.
If you want to send me a message then click CONTACT ME.
What you are looking at is the satellite view of the ruins of Ur which can be found in modern day Tall al-Muqayyar, Iraq. Unfortunately, Google Maps did not have any 360 degree views here. However, you can click on any of the castle-tower-icons which will open a side panel on the left side of the window screen and you can view numerous photos of the site. During Abraham’s early time, Ur was an important city of ancient southern Mesopotamia. The image below is a rendition of what Ur may have looked like
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you into a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing… And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”Genesis 12:1-3
Why did God have Abraham leave the country of his birth and yes, even from his father’s house?
Joshua gave us the reason when he said, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods”’ (Joshua 24:2). For Abraham to become a great blessing to all mankind, God had to separate him from the cultural influence of IDOLATRY.
Now Terah took his son Abram, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they departed together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran and settled there. Genesis 11:31
Abram, Sarai and his entire clan more than likely followed a well known trading route which followed the Great Euphrates River to the northwest. From Ur to Harran, it would have been about a 600 mile journey… and travelling by camels, it would have taken close to a year to get there.
The ruins of Harran is located in southeastern modern day Turkey. It was also known as Carrhae and was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia. It was also a commercial, cultural, science and religious center. Harran, being a smaller version of Ur, probably reminded Terah and the rest of Abram’s kin that it was almost like their home. So, they settled there (Gen 11:31).
Harran also was site when…
Gen 24: About 70 years later, a very old Abraham sent his trusted servant to search out a wife for his son, Isaac, among the relatives in Harran. God led him to Rebekah, the daughter of Laban who was Abraham’s nephew.
Gen 28-30: Another 60 years later than that, Jacob, who was the Abraham’s grandson, was sent by Rebekah, his mother to Laban (his uncle) to escape a reprisal from his twin brother, Esau. Laban tricked Jacob into 20 years of service. It was also here that Jacob sired 11 out of the 12 sons the made up the future 12 tribes of Israel.
3 – Mt Ararat
Since we are in the neighborhood of Turkey, we might as well take a quick detour to about 400 miles northeast from the ruins of Harran to where Abraham’s Great, great… (plus 10 other Greats after that)… Grandfather safely made landfall with the only remnants of humanity and the remnants of the animal kingdom (that we see today) after spending 150 days in big a wooden ark during the great flood that covered all the earth. His name was NOAH.
When the deluge stopped and the flood started to recede, the ark landed on a rocky outcrop jutting out of the water. That place was…
You are standing on the southern slope of Mt Ararat. Imagine Noah peering out the window of the ark from this vantage point as he watched the flood waters drain away. Imagine him breaking open the side of the ark to release the animals to scatter unto the four winds. Imagine him building a stone altar on those very slopes and offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord. Then, he was given a colorful surprise… a rainbow… a visual promise from God that never again will a great flood cover the earth.
Some archaeologists found another possible site of the ark’s final resting place some 20 miles south of the mountain. They based their claim on the boat-shape contour formed on the rock terrain. The discovery was made in what is known as the Durupinar site. Today, it is designated by the Turkish government as Noah’s Ark National Park
Though his clan settled in Harran, God moved the heart of Abram to leave there and go south almost 400 miles into the land of…
4 – CANAAN
What does the Bible say about the inhabitants of Canaan?
Genesis 10 (background)
Now these are the records of the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and sons were born to them after the flood. [vs1]
The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. [vs6]
Canaan fathered Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth, the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgashite, the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite, the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. [15-18]
The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon going toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; and going toward Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 
Important note: God had destined the Canaanites to lose this land to the descendants of Shem… the descendants of Abraham.
So Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.”Genesis 9:25-26
Link 4 is a 360 degree view of the valley where Shechem was located. What you see below, from the vantage point of Mt. Gerizim, is the modern town of Nablus.
What happened here?
Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanites were in the land at that time. And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
Other biblical occurrences:
Genesis 33:18-20 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram (Harran), and camped before the city. He bought the plot of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel (the mighty God of Israel).
Jacob also dug a well here that was the scene where a Samaritan woman will meet One who promised ‘Living Water’ for all.
Genesis 34 – The slaughter of the men of Shechem by the hands of Jacob’s sons.
Genesis 35:1-4 It was said that at this same oak of Moreh that Jacob buried his household’s “foreign gods” (idols) when God commanded him to proceed to Bethel for purification and dedication.
From here, let us take a detour and go East across the Jordan River to an important site.
What you are looking at is the Zarqa River in the modern day country of Jordan. This river, during Jacob’s day, was once called the Jabbok River which flowed into the Jordan River just a couple of miles west from here. Somewhere in this vicinity, Jacob had a hand to hand encounter with God.
In Genesis 32, Jacob had just escaped from 20 years of unjust servitude to his uncle Laban at Paddan-aram (Harran). When reaching the hill country of Gilead (East of the Jordan River) at the Jabbok River, he sent his entire household across the river.
That night, he encountered a being and wrestled with Him. It was here that God reiterated the changing of Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”
7 – BETHEL
Let us go back in time again to Genesis 12, Abram traveled about 19 miles south from Shechem to…
You’re on a hill designated as an archaeological site. If you look north on another hill, you can see the modern day town of Biet-el.
Bethel, during the time when Abraham first set his tents near here (Gen 12:8) & where he also parted ways with Lot (Gen 13), was originally called ‘Luz‘.
How did Bethel get its name?
Bethel got it’s name later in Genesis 28.
Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) had departed from Beersheba and was on his way to Haran to avoid a violent altercation with his angry twin brother, Esau. As he laid his head to sleep…
And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Then behold, the LORD was standing above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”Genesis 28:12-15
Jacob then called this place, BETHEL, which means the “House of God”.
The Oak of Mamre is also called the Tree of Abraham or Shajr-e Ibrahaim in Arabic. This tree, where Abram pitched his tent, is located on the outskirts of Hebron. Today, the remnant of the tree used to stand on the grounds of the modern Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
The old tree fell in 2019, but there are plans to preserve its trunk and sustain the growth of the young shoot. It is believed that it was over 5000 years old. It withered in 1996 from time and age however two new trees sprouted the following year from the dried-up oak that still had life in its roots underground.
Genesis 13:18 – Abram moved his tent from the Negev after Lot (his nephew) had separated from him, and came and lived by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron; and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Genesis 15 – Abram was promised a Son… God gave him a vision.
Important note – Abram was declared righteous for his faith.
Genesis 16 – It was also in this same place that Abram’s wife, Sarai, mistakenly passed her slave Hagar to him from whom Ishmael was born .
Genesis 17 – Years later, he was visited by 3 angels… Here, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision was established.
Genesis 18:1… – When Abraham turned 99, the Lord came and visited him. He was told that Sarah will give birth to Isaac in her old age.
Genesis 18:22… – Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom & Gomorrah.
In another part of Hebron, let us go to another site.
The Cave of the Patriarchs
The Cave of the Patriarchs, known to the Jews as the Cave of Machpelah and to the Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, is a series of burial caves holy to them as well as to Christians. Over the caves stand a large rectangular enclosure which is divided into both a synagogue and a mosque.
You are virtually standing between the entrances into the caverns where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob were buried.
Genesis 23 – Abraham’s wife Sarah died in Kiryat Arba near Hebron in the land of Canaan at the age of 127. Abraham came to mourn for her. After a while he stood up and spoke to the sons of Heth. He told them that he was a foreigner in their land and requested that they speak to Ephron the Hittite, the son of Zohar, who lived in Mamre and owns the cave of Machpelah which he was offering to buy for “the full price”. Ephron sold the entire field for four hundred shekels of silver and Abraham agreed to the price without any further bargaining. Abraham then buried his beloved wife Sarah there. [Wikipedia data]
Genesis 25 – Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham who passed at the age of 175 in the cave of Machpelah…
Genesis 49 – Jacob gave his account to his family that when Isaac died at the age of 180, he and Esau buried him in Machpelah. Rebekah (his mother) as well as his wife Leah were buried there too.
Genesis 50 – Joseph, who was then the prime minister of Egypt, had his physicians embalm his father Jacob, who died at the age of 147. They then removed him from Egypt to be buried in the cave of the field of Machpelah.
You are looking at a 360 degree aerial view of the southwestern side of the Dead Sea. Archaeologists had pinpointed that the notoriously sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, from the book of Genesis, were located in those areas. Both cities were completely destroyed by “sulfur and fire” because of their wickedness (Genesis 19:24).
This rocky figure of a woman can be seen from Highway 65 on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea. Of course, it is not really Lot’s wife turned to salt. But it does make a fun background to tell the story of Genesis 19.
Genesis 19:15-26 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men grasped his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, because the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out and put him outside the city.When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the surrounding area; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven,and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
But Lot’s wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot’s Cave, which is a stiff 10-minute climb up a steep flight of steps, is surrounded by the ruins of a small Byzantine church (5th to 8th centuries), a reservoir and some mosaics, which were excavated by the British Museum. The cave is 2km northeast of Safi and well signposted from the Dead Sea Highway. Look for the circular museum building on the hillside.
Lot, the nephew of Abraham, features repeatedly in the colourful annals of the Dead Sea’s southern shores. Lot’s Cave, just past the Lisan Peninsula, is where he and his daughters are said to have lived after fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In an eyebrow-raising incident that’s remarkable even for the Bible, it’s written in Genesis 19:30-38 that Lot’s two daughters spiked their father’s drink, had intercourse with him and then nine months later gave birth to his sons of incest, Moab and Ben Ammi, the forefathers of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples.
[excerpt from Lonely Planet website]
10 – BEERSHEBA [Beersheva]
Beersheba is located on the north section of the Negev desert. It got its name from Genesis 21:31 when Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice. Speaking of wells…
Unfortunately, this Google Map street view of Abraham’s Well leaves much to be desired. However, if you pan a little to the left, you may want to order a slice or so. I hear that camel took the place of pepperoni. Kidding aside, turn back to Abraham’s Well. Go ahead and click on the green circle with the camera icon to view photos of what’s inside.
What happened here?
Genesis 21:1-7 – Birth of Isaac as promised by God.
Genesis 21:9-19 By God’s encouragement, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away into the Negev wilderness. When close to dying of thirst, an angel provided for them and Hagar was reassured that Ishmael will become a great nation.
11 – MT MORIAH
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place of which God had told him. (Genesis 22:1-3)
This is the Dome of the Rock and it is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was built over the original site of Mt. Moriah.
What happened here during Abraham’s time?
And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
We end module 1 with a final visit to…
12 – EGYPT
After all, the book of Genesis do end here in the land of the pharaohs and pyramids. I refer to Jacob, when he uprooted his entire family including all of their households and herds, then trekked almost 240 miles to Egypt.
Genesis 46 – Jacob (aka Israel) moved to Egypt when he found out that his favorite son, Joseph, who he believed was killed by an animal (Gen 37:31-35), was not only alive but was also the second highest ruler of the kingdom of Lower Egypt.
So, Jacob, with the blessings of Pharaoh, settled in this area of Goshen.
As you can see, Goshen is quite fertile even today. It was perfect to raise herds of sheep and other livestock. For 400 years, the patriarch’s clan of 75 people grew into a nation of 12 tribes of about 2 million people.
Before we leave our tour, I felt it right that we play the tourist as we visit the…
As you look around the great pyramids of Giza, allow me to end this tour with the final blessings of Jacob concerning the futures of his sons. [You can read the entire text here in Genesis 49.] For our purposes, we will focus on one particular blessing that have so much significance in regards to the promise given to Abraham about his future offspring.
“Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you.
Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.
He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine.
He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.
What made this blessing so important? It points to our…
The Old Testament of the Bible always point to the ultimate saving grace of the Gospel. As your tour guide to the virtual sites of the Bible, I invite you to watch this 6 minute video.
This ends our tour of Module 1. Thank you for joining me in Following the Footsteps of the Patriarchs.