Banias in Wikipedia
Banias (or Paneas; Greek: Πανειάς; Arabic: بانياس الحولة; Hebrew: בניאס) is an archaeological site by the
uninhabited former city of Caesarea Philippi, located at the foot of Mount Hermon (Ba'al-Hermon, Arabic:
جبل الشيخ, Jabal esh-Shaiykh, Hebrew: הר חרמון, Har Hermon) in the Golan Heights. The site is 150 km north
of Jerusalem and 60 km southwest of Damascus. The city was located within the region known as the "Panion"
(the region of the Greek god Pan), and is named after the deity associated with the grotto and shrines
close to the spring called "Paneas".
The temenos (sacred precinct) included a temple, courtyards, a grotto and niches for rituals, and was
dedicated to Pan. It was constructed on an elevated, 80m long natural terrace along the cliff which
towered over the north of the city. A four-line inscription at the base of one of the niches relates to
Pan and Echo, the mountain nymph, and was dated to 87 CE.
In the distant past, a giant spring gushed from a cave set in the limestone bedrock, to tumble down the
valley and flow into the Hula marshes. Currently it is the source of the Nahal Hermon stream. Whereas the
Jordan River previously rose from the malaria-infested Hula marshes, it now rises from this spring and two
others at the base of Mount Hermon. The flow of the spring has decreased greatly in modern times. The
water no longer gushes forth from the cave, but only seeps from the bedrock below it.
Panias is a spring, known also known Fanium, named for the Arcadian Pan, the Greek god, a goat-footed god
of victory in battle [creator of panic in the enemy], isolated rural areas, music, goat herds, hunting,
herding, and of sexual and spiritual possession. It lies close to the fabled 'way of the sea' mentioned
by Isaiah. along which many armies of Antiquity marched. Paneas was certainly an ancient place of great
sanctity, and when Hellenised religious influences began to overlay the region, the cult of its local
numen gave place to the worship of Pan, to whom the cave was therefore dedicated. The pre-Hellenic
deity associated with the site was variously called Ba'al-gad or Ba'al-hermon.
In extant sections of the Greek historian Polybius's history of 'The Rise of the Roman Empire', a Battle
of Panium is mentioned. This battle was fought in 198 BC between the Macedonian armies of Ptolemaic Egypt
and the Seleucid Greeks of Coele-Syria, led by Antiochus III. Antiochus's victory cemented
Seleucid control over Phoenicia, Galilee Samaria and Judea until the Maccabean revolt. It was these
hellenised Seleucids that built a pagan temple dedicated to Pan at Paneas.
Upon Zenodorus's death in 20 BC, the Panion (Greek: Πανιάς), which included Paneas, was annexed to the
Kingdom of Herod the Great. Herod erected a temple of 'white marble' in Paneas in honour of his
patron. In 3 BCE, Philip II (also known as Philip the Tetrarch) founded a city at Paneas, which became the
administrative capital of Philip's large tetrarchy of Batanaea, encompassing the Golan and the Hauran. In
his Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus refers to the city as Caesarea Paneas; the New Testament as
Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast. In 14 CE
Philip II named it Caesarea (in honour of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus) and 'made improvements' to
the city. His image was placed on a coin issued in 29/30 CE to commemorate the city's foundation. This was
considered as idolatrous by Jews, but followed in the Idumean tradition of Zenodorus.
On the death of Philip II in 34 CE the tetrachy was incorporated into the province of Syria with the city
given the autonomy to administer its own revenues.
In 61 CE, king Agrippa II renamed the administrative capital Neronias in honour of the Roman emperor Nero,
but this name was discarded several years later, in 68 CE. Agrippa also carried out urban
During the First Jewish–Roman War, Vespasian rested his troops at Caesarea Philippi over July 67 CE,
holding games for a period of 20 days before advancing on Tiberias to crush the Jewish resistance in
In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is said to have approached the area near the city, but without entering the
city itself. While in this area, he asked his closest disciples who men thought him to be. Accounts of
their answers, including the Confession of Peter, are to be found in the Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well
as in the Gospel of Thomas.
In the Gospel of Mark, they replied that Jesus was thought to be John the Baptist, Elias, or some other
prophet, although Saint Peter gave his own view and confessed his belief that Jesus was the messiah
(Christ). Jesus predicted his destiny, for which Peter rebuked him. In Matthew, Peter's expression of
belief that Jesus was the Messiah is the occasion for Jesus designating Peter's confession as the rock on
which the Church was to be built--the fact that Jesus is the Christ. In Luke, the site where this is said
to have occurred is located near Bethsaida, after the Sermon on the Mount, and Peter affirms his belief
Jesus is 'the Christ of God'. In all three gospels, the apostles are asked to keep this revelation as
A woman from Paneas, who had been bleeding for 12 years, is said to have been miraculously cured by Jesus.
According to tradition, after she had been cured, she had a statue of Christ erected....
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