The Sycamore Tree
Your Christian Holy Land tour's visit to Jericho will include a stop at the city's ancient sycamore tree. The Book of Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus as he entered the city of Jericho. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and a rich man. He was also fairly short. He tried to get a look at Jesus but couldn't see him over the heads of the crowd, so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore to get a glimpse.
Some have claimed that the Jericho tree is the oldest existing sycamore, and possibly even the one that Zacchaeus climbed. This type of sycamore tree is unique to Israel, growing only in the Jordan Valley and along the Mediterranean coast. It has low branches, which can easily be climbed. It belongs to the nettle family and bears fruit that is not suitable for eating.
Adjacent to the sycamore is a Russian museum and park complex, built on land purchased by the Russian government in the 19th century. On display are archaeological artifacts from the area, Russian art and an exhibit on the ties between Russia and Palestine.
While in Jericho, don't miss a visit to Mount Temptation, where Jesus resisted the devil's temptations. A monastery built on the mountain surrounds the cave where Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.
Also stop by Tell es-Sultan, the excavations of Jericho. After Jerusalem, this city has undergone the most archaeological research of any city in the Holy Land. It has been called "the oldest city in the world."