Paneas Before the Advent of Jesus

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

Matthew 16:13 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

Now that we have an overview of Paneas replete with a summary of the plans of the enemy, let’s look at some of the things about Caesaria Philippi. In the Tanakh, this is known as Bashan.


It is an area located east of the Jordan River. Bashan is the upper Transjordan east northeast of the Sea of Galilee and extends north to include Mount Hermon. The Israelites conquered the area in the days of Moses and Joshua.

Bashan was a stronghold ruled over by two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. Both kings descended from the giant clans. Its two capital cities were Ashtaroth and Edrei.


Ashtaroth is derived from the name of the Greek goddess Astarte. Astarte is the equivalent of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar (from where we get the English word Easter.). Ishtar is the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Inanna.


Edrei is a word that probably means stronghold. Edrei was elevated 20 feet above the plain. It was an impregnable natural fortress amidst a complex labyrinth of caves caused by volcanic activity. There is an underground “city” below Edrei which was probably carved for a safe refuge during an attack. Edrei is modern day Daraa.

Both cities are described in myth and ritual texts from Ugarit as the abode of the god Milku. Our Bibles use the name Molech. He is Saturn in the Roman Pantheon and Kronos in the Greek Pantheon. These cities, and all of Bashan, were associated with a broad underworld population of ancestor-gods. The Canaanite people believed Bashan to be the gateway to the underworld (Hades, or Hell.)

Giant Kings

Sihon and Og were descended from the Rephaim and Anakim. These are some of the Bible’s names for the giant clans. (For reference see Deuteronomy 2:10-11, 20-21; 3:11-13; Numbers 13:26–33; Joshua 12:4; 13:12; Amos 2:9–10.) Sihon and Og were definitely augmented-human Nephilim.

Much is to be said of the religion of the ancient Amorites.

From Kings to Gods

We have already mentioned two gods. Understanding the ideas represented here becomes rather mind-boggling. And I rely on work done by others as they’ve connected things. Specifically fitting is the book The Second Coming of Saturn by Derek P. Gilbert. Excerpts are available. Here is some background to understand. From Mr. Gilbert’s research, it seems as if the term Molech (like Ba’al) is not a proper name, but a title that roughly means chief god. As it pertains to our discussion, we are talking about Kronos/Saturn/El, the king of the underworld.

We know from the Bible that Molech is associated with a heinous practice of worship, child sacrifice. (For reference, see 1 Kings 11:7; Leviticus 20:1–5.) God called the practice detestable.

To the Detestable

For the sons of Judah have done evil in My sight, says the LORD. They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. 31 *They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My heart. Therefore, truly the days are coming, says the LORD, that it will no more be called Topheth, nor the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place. The corpses of this people shall be food for the fowl of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of laughter and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall become desolate.

Jeremiah 7:30–34 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

It is bad enough to sacrifice the innocent for our own comfort. Sometimes, our modern mindsets miss the connections here. Look at how God references His sacrifice of these people to be as food. That is a hint necessary to understand why the practice is detestable. Part of the ritual of sacrifice is a shared meal. And if you are thinking cannibalism, that is right.

Remember what God said:

The LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed above all livestock, and above every beast of the field; you will go on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14–15 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

In my mind, and cannot unsee the connection to this:

Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)


The name Molech is found in a series of Ugaritic snakebite charms associated with Ashtaroth. The area of Bashan is definitely associated with serpents. Recently, it was discovered from Google Earth of all places, that there is a giant serpent mound in Bashan right in the vicinity of Gilgal Rephaim. More info is available here.

It’s just a coincidence, right?

This is a screen capture from Google Earth. It shows a long serpent-shaped roundabout 1/4 of a mile north of Gilgal Rephaim. The serpent mound is about 1 mile long.

In writing this, I can see the connection between the labyrinth at Gilgal Rephaim and that of Edrei. It could be that the entrance to the Netherworld is via a labyrinth.

This is God’s indictment of the Israelis.

They abandoned the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

Judges 2:13 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)


There is much to unpack about the reference to Caesarea Philippi. My hope is that this provides a foundation for understanding the significance of Matthew 16 as we move further. I also hope your mind, led by what the Holy Spirit has tucked into it, is making connections. We all play a part in understanding this.


Serpent mounds and serpent motifs are everywhere. Business logos incorporate them as an homage. Computer programming languages contain serpent references. SpaceX calls its rocket Dragon. As for those mounds, this is one from Ohio.

This is an aerial photo of the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio. It is breathtakingly clear, and megalithic. It is open to the public.
The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio.

As the entire mound is visible in the last photo, look closely at the head. What do you suppose the round object is, and what the mound symbolizes?

I see the serpent’s answer to the Promise in Genesis 3.

Thinking about the old adage about a snake in the grass… What do we do with easter eggs… But hide them in the grass.

Sorry. Not sorry.

2 thoughts on “Paneas Before the Advent of Jesus

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