This site is technically not in Palestine but in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. It is only a few kilometers west of Tel el Qadi (Tel Dan) and it is really a beautiful ancient site with an interesting history. It was the most northern part of the region that Jesus ever visited and according to the Bible it was here that he first confirmed to his disciples that he was the Messiah.
Banias is called after the Greek god of fertility, nature and wildlife: Pan.
It was believed that his birth cave was here in the big cliff and the same cave was considered to be the entrance to Hades, the underworld, where the fertility gods would spent time during winter.
People used to come and sacrifice goats to Pan by throwing them in the spring. If the goat did not sink down then the sacrifice was not accepted and they would toss in new born babies.
During excavations a lot of statues of deities were found and remains of Temples that were built in Greek and Roman time.
The son of Herod the Great, Philip, made it the capital of his territory and named it Caesarea Philippi, after the emperor Caesar Augustus and after himself. It was a thriving Roman city. Jesus never entered the city but he came up to the cave of Hades to proclaim that he would be victorious over death.
After his visit to Banias he went down south towards Jerusalem and on one of the mountains, thought to be Mount Tabor, the transfiguration happened and he radiated in glory and he was seen by his apostles with Moses and Elijah.
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