For more pictures and details on Caesarea Philippi from Dr. Carl Rasmussen, go to:
This was not a typical place to take young Jewish men. Read a Blog about this subject: http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/?p=44 or the saved text here
Josephus writes in "Antquities of the Jews" 15.10.3
"So when he had conducted Caesar to the sea, and was returned home, he built him a most beautiful temple, of the whitest stone in Zenodorus's country, near the place called Panium (Panias, Caesarea Philippi). This is a very fine cave in a mountain, under which there is a great cavity in the earth, and the cavern is abrupt, and prodigiously deep, and full of a still water; over it hangs a vast mountain; and under the caverns arise the springs of the river Jordan. Herod adorned this place, which was already a very remarkable one, still further by the erection of this temple, which he dedicated to Caesar."
Josephus writes in "Wars of the Jews" 1.21.3
"And when Caesar had further bestowed upon him another additional country, he built there also a temple of white marble, hard by the fountains of Jordan: the place is called Panium (Panias, Caesarea Philippi), where is a top of a mountain that is raised to an immense height, and at its side, beneath, or at its bottom, a dark cave opens itself; within which there is a horrible precipice, that decends abruptly to a vast depth: it contains a mighty quantity of water, which is immovable; and when anybody lets down anything to measure the depth of the earth beneath the water, no length of cord is sufficient to reach it. Now the fountains of Jordan rise at the roots of this cavity outwardly; and, as some think, this is the utmost origin of Jordan: but we shall speak of that matter more accurately inour following history."
Josephus writes in "Wars of the Jews" 2.9.1
"Both Herod and Philip continued in their tetrarchies; and the latter of them built the city Cesarea, at the fountains of Jordan, and in the region of Paneas."
Josephus writes in "Wars of the Jews" 3.9.7
"Vespasian . . . removed from that Cesarea which was by the se-side, and went to that which is called
Cesarea Philippi and there he refreshed his army for twenty days . . ."
Return to photo of Cave at Top
Notes from "The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land" (5 volumes) page 136-143, volume I, 1993, Ephraim Stern, Editor
- "There is a midrash that alludes to the gate of a city wall or perhaps of a sanctuary that would fall with the arrival of the Messiah." (Read here)
- "What Josephus described was corroborated by the discovery of such a chasm outside the entrance, in the excavated area (although the grotto (cave) has not been excavated yet). Here, the partial collapse of a Roman vaulted substructure revealed a chasm . . . the chasm reaches all the way to the underground water level. It is likely, therefore, that a similar hollow once existed inside the cave and formed a 'sacred well' to the Paneion. The Hellenistic arrangement of the grotto awaits the clearing of the cave floor, presently covered by the collapse of the cave's roof in the 1837 earthquake. Few Hellenistic remains were uncovered in the excavationoutside the cave, and it seems that in this period the cult place was confined to the natural cave." (NOTE: This means there is much more evidence buried in the remains. Ancient descriptions and archaeolgy indicate a passage way into the earth. The descriptions of a passage to the underworld may be confirmed by an inscription that says "Gates of Hades" to match Jesus' description of this place. Remember other examples such as Daniel's identification of Belshazzar or the Genesis use of the term "Hittites" were once only know from biblical literature.)
- "The facade wall (front wall) of the temple has not yet been located. However, coins of Phililpus (see coin above or diagram above) depicting the Augusteum show that it stood on a high podium and had four Ionic columns carrying an unbroken pediment. Three sculptured geison blocks . . . were found at the entrance to the grotto, among the fallen rock debris. These may have framed a passage of sorts from the temple to the grotto. It seems that the temple did not have a regular back wall; its adyton (a restricted area within a temple usually a small area at the farthest end that housed an image; similar to the Most Holy Place in the Jewish temple) was the grotto (cave) itself."
Delu xe Edition of Halley's Bible Handbook (2000, 2007) page 550 in "The New Testament", "The Four Gospels", Matthew 16:13-20 - Peter's Confession" refers to this cave when it says:
". . . cave which the Romans believed to be the entrance into Hades."