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Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was located in northern Palestine, on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon. This town was located near the most eastern source of the Jordan river. There has been a city in existence on this site since Old Testament days. In Joshua’s day, it was not know by the name “Caesarea Philippi,” but probably known as “BaalGad” (Josh. 11:16-19). In later years, the Greeks conquered this land, and the city became a center of worship to the Greek god Pan. Pan was the Greek god of forests, pastures, flocks, and shepherds; represented with the head, arms, and chest of a man, and the legs, ears and horns of a goat. In honor to their god, the Greeks named the city “Paneas.” After the Romans conquered the Greeks, Augustus Caesar gave the town to Herod the Great. Herod then built a marble temple and dedicated it to the Roman emperor in 20 BC. Herod’s son Philip enlarged the city, renaming it Caesarea, to honor Augustus. By the first century, this town was called Caesarea Philippi in order to distinguish it from the seaport and capital, Caesarea Martina. In medieval times (1120 AD) the Crusaders built a castle on a mountain spur about 1,150 feet above the Jordan’s primary source and called it “The Castle of Subeibeh.”

Mt. HermonCaesarea Philippi is known today as Banias. In 1983, the Israeli Department of Antiquities began archaeological excavations. In their digs, they have found artifacts dating back to the early Roman period. Massive underground systems of vaulted Roman buildings have been discovered, as well as other amazing artifacts. The marble temple built by Herod has not yet been discovered, but three coins that picture the structure, along with numerous other coins depicting the worship of Pan, have been unearthed. Caesarea Philippi certainly played a part in the early history of the world. Continue reading » Caesarea Philippi