I had a free day during my recent Israel trip and wanted to visit biblical sites in the West Bank. For several reasons it was wise to go with someone who knew the area well. A trusted recommendation led me to Tom Powers, an American who has lived in Israel for the past 14 years.
I made arrangements with Tom and had a fantastic day. He took me to ancient Geba/Michmash (where Jonathan scaled the cliffs to fight Philistines), Shiloh (where the tabernacle resided), Tel Balata (ancient Shechem), Jacob’s Well (Jesus and the Samaritan woman), to the new National Park atop Mt. Gerizim (fascinating Samaritan/Byzantine ruins plus a modern Samaritan village), and to the ancient city of Samaria. His explanations brought things to life. Alas, I only had one day to work with but Tom helped me make excellent use of it. Knowledge of the land, history, biblical connections, modern food stops, and driving routes is valuable. I could not have seen or done nearly as much on my own.
Tom has completed the rigorous tour guide program mandated by the Israeli government for licensed guides. He serves tour groups throughout Israel but his specialty is Jerusalem. I recently saw a blog comment about Tom by Prof. Todd Bolen. “There are few people alive who know more about Jerusalem than Tom Powers.” Tom has been published in Biblical Archaeology Review
and is a contributor for the Haaretz news agency in Israel. Tom’s website includes photos, blog posts and articles on biblical history/archaeology/geography, and contact information.
Tom told me he plans to return to the U.S. later this year. If you are in Israel anytime before November and are interested in a great tour guide for one or multiple days, contact Tom and see if he’s available. If you have a day in Jerusalem, consider Tom Powers to get the best value for your limited time.
LUKE: My utmost thanks for such a generous plug — It was indeed a great (and very full) day we spent together! You graciously omitted our opening misadventure, but It might help someone to know that we also tried, but failed, to visit ancient Gibeon (el-Jib). I have taken folks there multiple times, but the one route I knew through the frightfully gerrymandered Qalandiya area has apparently now been closed by the Israelis. And so it goes… Also, although I would be proud to be a Haaretz contributor — alas, no; it just seems like it, I suppose, because many of my posts point to, or sometimes reproduce in full, Haaretz articles. Once again, I’m deeply grateful for your enthusiastic nod. Peace & Blessings.
TOM POWERS / Bethlehem
Thanks for the clarification re: Haaretz. I misunderstood the information on your web site. Thanks again as well for your repeated attempts to get to el-Jib. Our inability to go there wasn’t for a lack of effort. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one driving those winding roads riddled with barriers and dead ends. Everything else went nicely. Thanks again for making that day so productive.
I would echo the recommendation of Tom Powers. I have had the blessing of Tom’s guidance on two different trips to Israel/Palestine. Every guide should be knowledgeable, and Tom is encyclopedic. But Tom has additional gifts in his ability to share the information at various levels or depths, depending on the audience. He can convey info about the ancient traditions related to sites, as well as a careful evaluation of the historical evidence supporting (or not) a given tradition . He has tremendous energy. (I had to call it quits in the evening before he wanted to!). I think any visitor will go away edified by Tom’s presentation of the places where the events of the Bible took place
— Joe Anderson
Had a great tour with Tom last year to the same locations. He’s a great guy and this area is ground zero for many Biblical events. I’m sad to hear he’s on his way back to the USA.