Caesarea Philippi is situated about 50 mi. [80 km.] southwest of Damascus at the foot of 9,232 ft. [2813 m.] high Mt. Hermon at one of the five headwaters of the Jordan River in the northern Huleh Valley. It was originally called Paneas for it was here that the god Pan, among others, was worshipped. Today it is called “Banias” for local Arabs have difficulty pronouncing the “p” sound in “Paneas.”
In 198 B.C. the Seleucids—Greek rulers of Syria— defeated the Ptolemies—Greek rulers of Egypt— who had controlled Palestine since roughly 300 B.C. Thus the control of Palestine passed into the hands of the Seleucids.
At the death of Herod the Great, in 4 B.C., this city along with various territories in the area was given to his son Philip. In 2 B.C. Philip rebuilt the city and called it “Caesarea Philippi”—to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima.
It was here at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus retired from the crowds, and it was here that Peter made his “great confession” that they believed that Jesus was the “Messiah, the son of God” (Matt 16:13–20; Mark 8:27–30).
The subsequent history of the city includes occupation by the Romans (Titus), Christians, Moslems, and Crusaders.
Palestinian Grid Reference: 215295.