Philip (son of Herod the Great) established Caesarea Philippi (also known as Baniyas). Previously, it had been a sanctuary used by the Canaanites for the worship of Baal. Continuing its idolatrous legacy, the Greeks paid homage here to their god Pan and referred to it as Paneas (from where the close resembling term, ‘Baniyas’ is derived). A statue of Pan was erected at the time, in a striking and peculiar cave. In 20 BC, Herod the Great, was given this territory by the Augustus Caesar. Philip built up a city here, naming it Caesarea Philippi (or ‘Caesarea of Philip’). This was to distinguish it from the coastal city that had been built by his father, Caesarea Maritima.
Caesarea Philippi is referred to in the Bible. This is most likely the place mentioned in Scripture as Baal-Hermon (or Baal of Mt. Hermon) – see Judges 3:3 and I Chron. 5:23. More importantly, this place was visited by the Lord and His disciples and is the place where Peter made his famous confession about Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Living God – see Matthew 16:13-16 and Mark 8:27-30.
Did You Know?
Caesarea Philippi is found on the Southwestern slope of Mount Hermon. It can therefore be reasonably assumed that the Mount of Transfiguration is probably Mount Hermon. Notice that right after Peter’s confession, which was only 6 days later, the Lord took Peter, James and John to a high mountain. See Matthew 17:1 ff.
The closest and highest mountain would be Mount Hermon, which reaches an altitude of 9232 feet.