1. Named also Sebaste (i.e. of Augustus, in whose honor Herod the Great built it in ten years with a lavish expenditure, so that Tacitus calls it "the head of Judaea".) Also Stratonis, from Strato's tower, and Palaestinae, and Maritime. The residence of Philip the deacon and his four prophesying daughters (Acts 8:40; Acts 21:8; Acts 21:16). Also the scene of the Gentile centurion Cornelius' conversion (Acts 10:; 11:11). Herod Agrippa I died there (Acts 12:19-23). Paul sailed thence to Tarsus (Acts 9:30); and arrived there from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:22), also from his third Acts 21:8); and was a prisoner there for two years before his voyage to Italy (Acts 24:27; Acts 25:1; Acts 25:4; Acts 25:6; Acts 25:13).
It was on the high road between Tyre and Egypt; a little more than a day's journey from Joppa on the S. (Acts 10:24), less than a day from Ptolemais on the N. (Acts 21:8.) About 70 miles from Jerusalem, from which the soldiers brought Paul in two days (Acts 23:31-32) by way of Antipatris. It had a harbor 300 yards across, and vast breakwater, (the mole still remains,) and a temple with colossal statues sacred to Caesar and to Rome. Joppa and Dora had been previously the only harbors of Israel. It was the Roman procurators' (Felix, Festus, etc.) official residence; the Herodian kings also kept court there. The military head quarters of the province were fixed there. Gentiles outnumbered Jews in it; and in the synagogue accordingly the Old Testament was read in Greek.
An outbreak between Jews and Greeks was one of the first movements in the great Jewish war. Vespasian was declared emperor there; he made it a Roman colony, with the Italian rights. It was the home of Eusebius, the scene of some of Origen's labors, and the birthplace of Procopius. Now a desolate ruin, called Kaisariyeh; S. of the mediaeval town is the great earthwork with its surrounding ditch, and a stone theater within, which Josephus alludes to as an amphitheater.
2. Caesarea Philippi. Anciently Paneas or Panium (from the sylvan god Pan, whose worship seemed appropriate to the verdant situation, with groves of olives and Hermon's lovely slopes near); the modern Bahias. At the eastern of the two sources of the Jordan, the other being at Tel-el-Kadi (Dan or Laish, the most northerly city of Israel). The streams which flow from beneath a limestone rock unite in one stream near Caesarea Philippi. There was a deep cavity full of still water there. Identified with the Baal Gad of Old Testament Herod erected here a temple of white marble to Augustus. (See BAAL GAD.) Herod's son Philip, tetrarch of Trachonitis, enlarged and called it from himself, as well as Caesar, Caesarea Philippi. Agrippa II called it Neronias; but the old name prevailed. It was the seat of a Greek and a Latin bishopric in succession.
The great castle (Shubeibeh) built partly in the earliest ages still remains the most striking fortress in Israel. The transfiguration probably took place on mount Hermon. which rears its majestic head 7,000 feet above Caesarea Philippi. The allusion to "snow" agrees with this, and the mention of Caesarea Philippi in the context (Matthew 16:13; Mark 8:27; Mark 9:3). The remoteness and privacy of Caesarea Philippi fitted it for being the place where Jesus retired to prepare His disciples for His approaching death of shame and His subsequent resurrection; there it was that Peter received the Lord's praise, and afterward censure. The transfiguration gave them a foretaste of the future glory, in order to prepare them for the intermediate shame and suffering.
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'caesarea' Fausset's Bible Dictionary".