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Banias (Caesarea Philippi)

Jesus or Pan?

Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 by Charlie Trimm

Banias was one of the prettist places which I went, mostly because there was lots of water and trees and it made me feel like i was back in the northwest. Banias is located in the northeastern end of the Hula Valley, which is part of the Jordan Rift just to the north of the Sea of Galilee. After Banias the road begins to climb up the Golan Heights towards Damascus many miles down the road. Banias is one of the major sources of the Jordan River because several springs put out large amounts of water which eventually join the Jordan. Nothing happened here in the OT that is recorded, but in the NT it became a Roman city which was dedicated to the worship of the Greek god Pan. It was called Panias, but it changed to Banias because of the lack of a p in Arabic. During NT times it was also called Caesarea Philippi and is famous for being the place where Peter made his confession of faith. The location is a fascinating choice: it is well away from any Jewish centers and is actually in a fairly pagan city dedicated to a pagan god. I think that this fits in with the desire of Jesus to not let people know that he was the Messiah because people had the wrong idea of the Messiah. He wanted to redefine the word Messiah before he proclaimed himself the Messiah, and so when he communicated it clearly to the disciples he was away from any places that would care about the Jewish Messiah. The location probably was significant for the disciples as well: here they are comprehending the Messiahship of Jesus while sitting under the shadow of a pagan temple. The pictures include the spring, a Herodian palace and the temple of Pan. 

 This is the amount of water that comes out of the spring, one of which is seen in the following picture.

Banias 1 (from Panias, place of temple of Pan, a Greek god).jpg


This is the ruined palace of one of the Herod's (not Herod the Great).  

Banias Herodian Palace.jpg

The Temple of Pan was found in the hole in the rock and the following picture gives a reconstruction of what it might have looked like. Notice the same hole in the rock behind the temple to the left. The entire section here was actually a road of temples and shrines.  

Banias Spring and Temple.jpg

Banias Temple Complex dedicated to Pan and other greek gods.jpg

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