AROUND ISRAEL: THREE TREASURES

The Mountain The disputed Golan Heights, annexed by Israel but claimed by Syria, has lush forests and meandering streams descending from the Biblical Mt. Hermon. Drive to Caesarea Philippi and take the hour-long walk along the Baniyas River past ancient ruins to Baniyas Falls. Or go to Tel Dan, a Caananite and later Israelite city near the Lebanon border, where ground water gurgles up to form the pristine headwaters of the Jordan River.

The Lake

Use Israel's only American-style ``dude ranch,'' Vered Hagalil (the Rose of Galilee), as a base of operations to see the Sea of Galilee - or Lake Kinneret to the locals. Homey, inexpensive bungalows have expansive views of the lake and are within minutes by car - or horse - of Christian sights including Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes.

The Desert

Drive south through Israel's outback, the Negev, to Elat. Ignore the commercialization and enjoy the spectacular setting on the Red Sea where Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula converge. Snorkeling or scuba-diving around the unspoiled coral reefs is a must. The Elat aquarium contains some of the most exotic fish in the world.

For Further Reading

``Jerusalem: City of Mirrors,'' by Amos Elon (Boston: Little Brown, 1989). A literate, impressionistic biography of Jerusalem, the book explores the political, religious, and historical influences that have contributed to the city's mystique.

Two of the best archaeological guides for the layman are ``The Holy Land: An Archeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700,'' by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986) and ``The Jerusalem Jesus Knew,'' by John Wilkinson (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1978).

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