Banias Springs (Caesarea Philippi) – Golan Heights

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Background: Banias, or the Hermon Stream Nature Reserve, is a national park at far north end of the Golan Heights. The name “Banias” is the Arabic version of “Paneas” or Pan’s Place, as Banias is most famous for its (now ruined) temple for the Greek god Pan, carved into a cliffside. Greeks used to throw animal sacrifices into the crevasse (shown in the slideshow) that led out of the cave. If blood flowed out the sacrifice was not accepted. Banias is more famously known under its Roman name, mentioned in the New Testament: Caesarea Philippi. Here is where the Confession of Peter took place: Christ asked his disciples, “whom do men say that I (the Son of Man) am?” to which Peter replies that he is the Messiah. Christ then gives Peter the keys to heaven and tells him that “upon this rock (Peter) I will build my church.”

Impressions: Banias is very different from the rest of Israel: it’s very green, has water flowing through it (and it really feels like spring), and has a pagan temple instead of a mosque, church, or synagogue. It was cool to be somewhere mentioned in the New Testament, but see something other than a church. It also puts the story in perspective, as Peter’s words carry much more weight when you realize that he said these things in the proximity of a Greek temple, almost defying it. But besides that it was great to just be out of the desert, and somewhere that had more life.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on May 1, 2011.

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