It’s not easy picking just one. The happy reality is that, except for little surveys like this one, we don’t have to. Beautiful vistas abound in the biblical lands, if only we can climb to the summit.

When forced to choose just one, the most common answer among our readers was Mount Arbel overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Here are a few of the reasons given:

I loved the view overlooking Sea of Galilee towards Capernaum. In addition to the view, what made this tops for me was the climb down using the chains.

So many places connected to historical events are visible from this one vantage point. The last time I was there Mt Hermon was visible. Seeing the geography, the topography, how the locations are in relation to one another is just amazing. I love the bird’s eye view but admit my stomach does flip flops looking straight down!

A favorite faculty member from my Bible Institute days preached a message regarding “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light” from Isaiah 9.  Nice climb, good heights, potential danger, lots of periods of history (OT, NT, Zealots, Crusaders) visible. 
Plain of Gennesaret from southwest, tb053005508
View of the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel

In second place was the Mount of Olives. Given all that happened throughout history, it’s easy to spend a lot of time here re-living biblical events. Here’s what a couple of you wrote:

I can think of no other place where a person can see where so much biblical history took place.

It is a view that Yeshua knew well.

Jerusalem from Mount of Olives, tb092405392
Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

A close third was Muhraqa on Mount Carmel, the traditional place where Elijah battled the prophets of Baal. One person chose this vista because they “have been there.” That’s a reminder that many tour groups, most of which are designed for the elderly, do not go to many of the choice vistas. Here’s why another reader chose Muhraqa as their favorite:

Because you can see Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar, Manasseh, Phoenicia, and Transjordan + the landscape of about a dozen biblical events

Jezreel Valley from Muhraqa, tb061216339
The Jezreel Valley from Muhraqa on Mount Carmel

Honorable mention goes to the view from Azekah:

It is really difficult to pick only one! While there may be more beautiful vistas, like Arbel, I love being on top of Azekah and reading I Samuel 17. It was one of the first locations for me where the Bible came to life and a treasured story became more real. It is a joy to bring others there and see them experience some of that. It is a moving experience to visualize such a familiar story unfolding in the Elah Valley below. It’s something that just can’t happen unless you visit Israel and set foot in a place like Azekah.

Perhaps the most interesting response (in my estimation) was the reader who chose the “sunrise over moab” for the reason that they can see it “from my bed.” I wonder how places there are where that’s possible!

Another respondent chose Mount Meron, because:

I figured I’d choose something different. Mt Meron is great because you can see from Mt Hermon and Mt Bental in the north all the way to Mount Carmel in the south. This provides a great view of practically the entire Galilee region (on a clear day).

A variety of other sites were selected, including Belvoir (“beautiful view”), Hippos, Masada, Mount Gilboa, Nazareth, Nimrod’s Castle, Qumran, and Tel Jezreel.

A few people chose locations outside of Israel, including Macherus:

I have been several times and have never seen more than one or two people there. I like the loneliness of the site, especially at sunset. A good place to reflect on the last days of John the Baptist. Great views of the Dead Sea and the hills of ancient Perea.

And one reader prefers the view from the Amman citadel at sunset:

Gradually the city’s lights come on.  I noticed the green lights all around in the city.  Then the Muslim hour of evening prayer began and the muzzains calls blend and compete. A delight for eyes and ears.

If you haven’t yet “panned the panorama” from all of these vistas, you can add them to your list for the next time you’re traveling through the biblical world.


Many of my favorite stops in touring around Israel are viewpoints. Whether it’s on top of a mountain or a mosque, a cliff or a convent, an overlook of the biblical landscape captures so much from one vantage point.

I thought that this week we would solicit your perspective on the best vista on your itinerary. The site can be in Israel or any other biblical land. If you would like, you can explain why the overlook is your favorite. We’ll share some of the results later this week.

To prime your thinking, here are some vistas I have enjoyed.

  • Arbel cliffs
  • Nazareth overlook (aka Mount of Precipitation)
  • Muhraqa on Mount Carmel
  • Mount Gerizim
  • Nebi Samwil rooftop
  • Nimrod’s Castle
  • Mount of Olives tower
  • Masada
  • Wadi Qilt near St. George’s
  • Beit Jalla field school
  • Cliffs above En Gedi
  • Machtesh Ramon Visitor’s Center
  • Mount Zephahot near Eilat
  • Jebel Musa
  • Amman Citadel
  • Macherus
  • Petra High Place
  • Philippi acropolis
  • Acrocorinth

Email readers may need to click through.


Jerusalem is a place deeply meaningful to so many people. It is not only full of history, but it is also full of the future. I really enjoyed reading through your responses on this survey, for we all feel passionately about this city!

The site chosen by more than any other was Hezekiah’s Tunnel. When you add the second most common response, the City of David, it’s obvious that the most ancient part of Jerusalem is a clear favorite. It wasn’t that many years ago that few people visited the City of David or walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. That has changed with recent development, and now you need to get reservations weeks or months in advance and pay more than 5 shekels for entrance!

Here’s why a few of you chose Hezekiah’s Tunnel as your favorite:

Fascinating history, quiet, away from crowds”
I love the feeling of re-living biblical history. I love teaching on the water systems of Jerusalem and seeing the joy of discovery on friends’ and study tour participants’ faces!”
(1) It’s just as it was (not just ruins). (2) It’s mentioned very specifically in the Bible, and was important. (3) Its discovery bolstered confidence in the Biblical record. (4) It’s good fun walking through it. (5) Not many people do walk it, so you feel you’re getting a special treat!”

The City of David provoked several interesting responses, including these:

In spite its small size (10 acres), the City of David contains an incredible amount of tangible evidence demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible.
It is so important, so controversial, and still so difficult to figure out. I keep going back only to be more confused and intrigued. Who can help me?

Another favorite is just up the hill: the excavations on the south side of the Temple Mount.

Story of Mary, Joseph, Jesus and Simeon in Luke 2
Robinson’s arch, Herodian street and sewer tunnel, old shops, Roman destruction, mikvahs, are ancient history.  But you can also see the new Jewish quarter with its synagogues and Torah schools and the Muslim minarets on the Haram that remind you of the mix of societies living here today. . . . So much history meeting today all in one spot.

The Garden Tomb and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher received an equal number of votes. I’m not sure if I know those who voted for the Garden Tomb, but all (three) who chose the Holy Sepulcher are biblical scholars. Why the Holy Sepulcher?

My fascination with the burial of Jesus, among other things!
As close as it is possible to get to the place where Jesus died and rose.

One person who chose the Garden Tomb wrote:

That’s where I realized that He is not there but He has risen!

The Western Wall received three votes. Why?

It’s close to the Holy of Holies, had great prayerful experiences there with friends, and loved watching the feast of tabernacles and witnessing Jewish culture.  It’s beautiful at night! 

Bringing in the Shabbat with singing and dancing.

Several people chose locations for their views of the city, but they didn’t choose the same location:

Mount of Olives: From the Mount of Olives you can look down at the Temple Mount and so much biblical history took place right there from the Old Testament to the New Testament and to think of what will happen in the future there at that site!

Ramparts Walk: It affords the best views of the city, a good overview of the surrounding topography and you can see the dovetailing of Jordanian defense walls with those from 1492. You also have a good view of the recent excavations on Mt. Zion as well as interesting portions of the Arab quarter.

Herod’s Tower: The timeless, expansive view of most of the Old City, Temple Mount, Mount of Olive’s, Holy Sepulchre, St. John of Hospitallers.  Perhaps the best view of the City.

A number of you picked the Pools of Bethesda/St. Anne’s Church, the Mount of Olives (including Gethsemane), the Israel Museum (including the model of Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book), and Yad VaShem.

Let me wrap it up with a couple of the more unusual choices.

Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary: Awesome stairs going DOWN inside the entrance with a mixed ecclesiological history. Great architecture!

Atop the Russian Ascension Bell Tower, Mount of Olives: Of course, this is a place I have yet to get to, but based on images I have seen taken from this vantage point, the view of the Old (and New) City westward, and the views eastward across the wilderness, with a excellent camera to capture the view, would be my FAVORITE site in Jerusalem. Perhaps one day!

Interestingly enough, no one picked my favorite place in Jerusalem: the Temple Mount. It can be difficult to get up there, but I make every effort with every group I lead because:

  • There are so many awesome Bible stories to talk about here, including God’s choice of the spot, Solomon’s dedication of the temple, Jesus’s visits, the apostles in Solomon’s colonnade, and Paul’s arrest.
  • It’s a good place to talk about Islam, including its (occasional) interest in Jerusalem.
  • You just cannot grasp how large the Temple Mount is until you’re there.
  • God is not done here. There is no place on the planet more central to the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

Thank you for participating! We’ll do another survey in a week or two.

We had some fun last summer with a series of reader surveys, and we thought we would do some more as we await word of the discovery of ancient archives in the excavations of Hazor, Abel Beth Maacah, and Gath.

To kick this series off this year, we’re asking you to choose your favorite site in Jerusalem. There are many options, and this provides you with an opportunity to think through your highlights and select one for the top of your list. Then, if you like, you can tell us why.

You might start by thinking through major sites in the Old City, including the Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Western Wall, and Temple Mount. But don’t forget the City of David, Mount of Olives, or Garden Tomb.

Important sites from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) include Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Broad Wall, and the Ketef Hinnom tombs. Favorites from the New Testament include the Pools of Bethesda, Pool of Siloam, southern Temple Mount excavations, and the Holy Sepulcher.

There’s also the Tower of David Museum, Israel Museum, and Bible Lands Museum. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone put the JUC campus or Shaban’s shop.

The more that participate, the more interesting the results will be, so feel free to tell others to join in.

We’ll share the results, including some of the responses, later this week.

(Email readers may need to click through to fill in the survey.)

The survey has closed.


We had fewer responses for this survey than previous ones, perhaps because the nature of the survey is more geared to scholars and well-traveled tourists than to others. The lower participation may also account for why many excellent museums were not represented in the survey, including the Louvre, the Oriental Institute, and the Met.

The most popular museum of our survey was, not surprisingly, the Israel Museum (and/or Shrine of the Book). Among the enthusiastic explanations were these:

Hard to beat the archaeological section of the Israel Museum for the sheer number of outstanding and biblically significant artifacts. (And then you add the Jerusalem model and Shrine of the Book too!)

The museum is laid out chronologically. Each exhibit is concisely written and easily understood.

And specifically of the Shrine of the Book:

Coolest Hebrew manuscripts ever.

Three other museums in Israel were recommended:

House of the Anchor Museum (En Gev)

It’s so small one can describe it as cute, yet it’s dedicated to such a unique and important topic most of our information of 1st century fishing and fishermen comes from the studies from this museum.

Hecht Museum (Haifa)

While it may not have the main historically significant artifacts like the Israel Museum (e.g., the Tel Dan stele), it has one of the best displays of a wide variety of artifacts from the biblical period and some really unique exhibits like the Hellenistic shipwreck, Phoenician dye working, and treasure hoards.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

amazing collection, great graphics, free parking

I’d gladly pay for parking if they let me take some pictures!

Outside of Israel, three museums were suggested from neighboring countries.

Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo)

Amazing collection

The Jordan Museum (Amman)

Historical and Biblical artifacts

The Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Who doesn’t love Hittite memorabilia (and guards with mustaches that can kill)?

Two European museums were proposed, with the British Museum getting the second highest number of votes of all (after the Israel Museum).

So many excellent collections

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser 3 showing king Jehu and other Jews

The other was the Pergamon Museum in Berlin:

Just great in everything 😉

Before you buy your ticket to Berlin, you should know that some parts of the museum are closed for

The only museum in the US that received a vote was the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California. That is a bit disappointing, especially given how many of our readers live in the States. Perhaps I might encourage our American readers to visit some of these outstanding museums.

We’ve made a list and are soliciting suggestions for any that we may have missed.

If I had three votes to spend on three continents for the best museums related to biblical studies, I’d pick the Israel Museum (Asia), British Museum (Europe), and the Oriental Institute (North America).
But there are some great ones that I have not yet visited that could earn my vote in the future!

Thank you for participating! It’s fascinating to read what interests you and why.


If choosing a favorite museum related to the biblical world is difficult for you, consider yourself blessed. There are outstanding museums for the Bible student and teacher in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, the UK, Germany, France, the US, and beyond. (If you haven’t seen our list of U.S. museums, take a look sometime.) But for now your task is this: choose one and only one, and tell us why. We’ll share the results on Thursday.