web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Sections » Travel »

A Trip To The Banias

Littman-122812-Waterfall

The beautiful Banias Nature Reserve includes two main areas: the spring area and the waterfall area. And if it’s hard for you to choose which one to visit – choose both. They are equally beautiful and fascinating and a celebration of water and lush flora awaits you.

The giant Mount Hermon acts like a sponge absorbing the generous rain that falls in the area. The water then percolates and emerges as three springs at the foot of the mountain. These springs create three streams – the Dan, Hermon (Banias) and Snir (Hazbani) – which are the headwaters of the Jordan River.

The streams rush with great force through a canyon-like channel, losing 190 meters in altitude and forming the Banias waterfall, one of the most beautiful in Israel. After nine kilometers, the Hermon River meets the Dan River near kibbutz Sde Nechemia and the two flow into the Jordan River. The Hermon accounts for one-quarter of the Jordan’s waters.

All winter Mount Hermon is covered with snow. When the snow melts, it becomes a forceful river, which, as we said, feeds the Jordan River and the Kinneret. Thus, the snow-capped Hermon is the water source of the Land of Israel.

The volume of the Banias Springs is dependent on how snowy and rainy the winter season was. The stream flows into tranquil still pools that are part of the magnificent Hermon National Park.

The nature reserve was established in 1977 and contains sites of natural and historical interest. Excavations have unearthed an impressive Greco-Roman city that was later a Byzantine one. A colonnaded street – the Cardo Maximus – connected both ends of the city. A large public structure, believed to be the Palace of Agrippa II was discovered there, as well as streets, aqueducts, courtyards, a synagogue, a church, and a bathhouse.

There are four trails one can take within the reserve, three are 45-minutes long and one is 90-minutes long.

The name Banias is actually an Arabic corruption of the word Panias or Paneus – from the name of the Greek god Pan, god of the forests and shepherds whose temple cave can be seen in the ascending hillside.

It is interesting to note that Banias is associated with idols – Micah’s (Israelite period), Pan (Hellenistic period), and the Bleeding Woman (Byzantine period).

The springs of the Banias were probably, even during the Canaanite period, a sacred sacrifice site serving the nearby city of Leshem or Laish. Mivzar Dan (Dan-Fort) was the original city that lay at the source of the Banias. The springs were one of the city’s most important assets.

It is believed that the Biblical Beth Rehov (the house of the Road) may have been in the Banias. The Danits stole the Pesel Micah which they then erected in their new city, perhaps in a cave of the Banias (Judges 18 – 27, 30).

When the Greeks invaded the area, they discovered this beautiful place and the cave of Pan became a center of their pagan activity. In 36 BCE, Panias was given to Cleopatra. At the end of the first century B.C.E., the Romans annexed it to Herod`s kingdom and he constructed a temple there in honor of Augustus. After Herod`s death, his son, Philip the Tetrarch, inherited northern Eretz Yisrael and established the capital of his kingdom near the springs, calling it Caesarea Philippi. The city had a mixed population of pagans and Jews.

In the days of Agrippa II, the grandson of Philip II (53 – 94 CE), the city expanded, and luxurious buildings as well as a large opulent palace were built. Its name was changed to Neronias Caesarea Sebastia (Neronlas) in honor of the Emperor Nero. Jews referred to the city as “Caesarion” (“little Caesar”). At the time of the great rebellion (67-73C.E.), both Vespasian and Titus were guests in Agrippa II’s palace and camped nearby (Josephus Wars).

The city was spared the tragic destiny of other cities, since Agrippa II sided with the Romans. Although its Jewish citizens were protected by Agrippa, they were subject to harsh times. After the war there was a Jewish community in the city, but most of the citizens were pagan.

In the 7th Century, the Arabs conquered the land, renaming it Banias (Arabs pronounce “p” as “b”), and the city continued as the capital city of the Golan area. From documents in the Cairo Geniza we know that there were two Jewish communities residing in the Banias — one Babylonian and one Jerusalemite. Their synagogue was excavated in the vicinity of the palace of Agrippa. In 1120 CE, Banias became the headquarters for a messianic sect of Karaites, led by the false Messiah Shlomo HaCohen. Apparently in the year 1126, the community was forced to desert the city, when the extreme Shi’ite sect of Isma’ili Hashishim took over.

Arriving in the Galilee in 1099 and in Banias at 1129, the Crusaders realized the strategic asset of Banias as a frontier city, located on the trade route to Damascus. They built a large wall and gate around it and fortified the Arab fortress of Kil’at Subeiba (Large Cliff), located 6 km above the city, calling it by the Biblical name Nimrod Fortress. The Crusaders controlled the city and fortress until 1164 when it was conquered by the Syrian ruler Nur al-Din.

During the Mamluk Period, in the 13th and 14th centuries CE, the city prospered. However, during the Ottoman Period, Banias was a small village of no special importance.

After World War I, the 1920 treaty between the British and the French placed Banias in the French Mandate. On June 10, 1967, Banias was captured by the IDF and restored to Eretz Yisrael.

After years of planning, the hanging bridge was inaugurated at the Hermon Stream in March 2010. 80 meters long, the bridge stretches over the strongly flowing clear, almost white stream, while surrounding it are majestic black/brown basalt and travertine canyon cliffs covered in abundant vegetation.

Those who opposed the building of bridge asserted that it would make the nature reserve into an amusement park. However, this didn’t happen, and the bridge trail blends right into the surroundings and has become an inseparable part of the reserve. A visitor who stands on the bridge can observe stunning views that were not accessible before its construction. The views are especially dramatic since visitors are walking in the opposite direction to the water current.

Climbing the steps at the end of the hanging bridge trail, you enter a picturesque rain forest. This more “natural trail,” leads to the Banias Waterfall which falls from a height of about ten meters. The lovely viewing-balcony provides the perfect place to observe the waterfall and relish its cool spray.

If you bring children with you, show them how to enjoy nature by instructing them to do some or all of the following things. Ask them to touch an exposed tree root and feel the texture of different leaves. (Only beware they don’t touch Oleander with its dark green spear-shaped leaves and beautiful fragrant white or rouse-pink tufty flowers since it’s highly poisonous.) Tell them to watch how the leaves or branches sway in the breeze. Suggest they listen to the sounds of the birds and the leaves. Instruct them in making a bracha on smelling trees or hardy woody stems (boray atzei b’somim), on plants with soft stems (boray isvay b’somim), a mixture of both (boray minay b’somim), or if you are not sure what it is (boray minay b’somim). Or just ask them to close their eyes and concentrate on the sound of flowing water and chirping birds.

The thick foliage of the woods along the trail contains many species of trees. Among them you’ll find Common Oaks, Oriental Plane Trees (easy to recognize, due to their large leaves shaped like the palm of a hand that are shed in the winter and its ball shaped long haired fruit), Syrian ash (can be spotted by its dentate leaflets), Poplar Trees, Willows, Figs, True Laurel (Bay Leaves), Carobs, Almonds, Storax, and many, many more. Among the vine and plant species are grapes and rough bindweed, blackberries, reeds, ferns and heart shaped ivy. Adding to the great profusion of trees near the streams and stream bank flora are orchard trees such as walnut, lemon, and other fruit trees.

The nature reserve is full of wildlife. From Shir HaShirim‘s praises of the area (4:8), we learn that lions and leopards once inhabited the region. Lions are now extinct but leopards can still be found. Jackals and wild boars are active during the night, and in the day many Hyraxes frolic along the shores of the stream since they love the sunlight. There are swamp lynxes and porcupines, Mt. Hermon field mice, rodents, and bats.

Falcons are seen flying high above, and on the ground flocks of rock doves congregate. Cetti’s Warblers, Sardinian Warblers, blackbirds, woodpeckers, Winter Wrens, and Graceful Prinias are also found. Various types of fish can be seen in the stream, among them haffaf, hillstream loach, acanthobrama, tilapia, Damascus barbell and longhead barbels. Other aquatic life includes black-shell melanopis, freshwater gastropod, crescent shaped mollusks, and snails.

Directions: Drive on Road 90 and turn east on Road 99. The entrance to the Banias waterfall area is located about two kilometers east of Kibbutz Snir, and the Banias Nature Reserve with its springs is located about three kilometers east of the Kibbutz.

About the Author: Originally from south Africa, Vardah has been living in Eretz Yisrael since 1974 and the more she learns about our glorious Holy Land the more she gets to love this prime property that Hashem has given to the Jewish People. She is studying to be a tour guide and hopes with the help of Hashem, through this column to give readers a small taste of the land.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Trip To The Banias”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Harvard seal, "veritas," on the side of a Harvard building.
Harvard Will Investigate, But Will it Reverse SodaStream Boycott?
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

South-Florida-logo

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

South-Florida-logo

The NHS was also honored to have Bob Diener as keynote speaker.

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

“The secret to a good donut is using quality ingredients and the ability to be patient and give them time to proof.”

I so desperately want to have a loving relationship with my stepsons.

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of American Independence.

Because you can’t have kids pouring huge jugs of oil into tiny glasses, unless you want to turn your house into an environmental disaster.

Try these with your kids; there’s something for every age group and once all the recipes are made, dinner will be ready!

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

More Articles from Vardah Littmann
Littman-112213-Flowers

Only half an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, the majestically beautiful Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve is a lush, green oasis surrounded by miles of flat arid, desert.

Littman-102513-Wall

The Kotel Hakatan is the “little sister” of the well-known Western Wall, and is reminiscent of the photos and drawings of the way the Kotel looked before 1948. It is located 200 yards further north of the Kotel, and is on the same level as Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount). Since its plaza is much narrower, and the majority of the wall is underground (thereby concealing much of its height), the Small Wall is less impressive than the Western Wall.

When we come to the Kotel we may be so engrossed in our tefillos that we don’t notice the numerous birds flying close by and the plants growing out of her stones. But the Kotel—spiritual home to millions — is built of stones that serve as the physical home for various animals and plants.

Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.

Speechless wonder is the reaction to the beautiful vision seen though the Arch of the Keshet Cave at the Adamit Park in the Galilee. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Eretz Yisrael, the Me’arat Hakeshet — also known as the Rainbow Cave or Arch Cave — can be found up against the Israel-Lebanon border just a few kilometers from Rosh Hanikra and the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. It is situated amid the wild scenery on the cliffs of Nachal Betzet and Nachal Namer, on the Adamit Ridge.

About four years ago a group of orthodox senior citizens from Bnei Brak arrived to tour the Ayalon Institute. One woman seemed to be exceptionally moved and cried a lot. Nearly two week later, she sent a letter to the Institute explaining why. She wrote that she was a Holocaust survivor and between 1943 and 1945 she had been a forced laborer making bullets to help the Nazi cause – bullets that were used many times against Jews. After the war, she had concentrated on raising a frum generation, suppressing all the terror of those horrendous years in order to do so.

We will start our tour at Agripas No. 12, exactly where the first round stone pot-plant of pansies stands, on the same side of Binyan Klal, but walking towards King George Street and opposite the traffic circle. Entering HaRav Chaim Elboher Alley, we find ourselves in Even Yisrael.

The crane is the king of the Hula Valley with welcoming squawks and shrieks of sheer delight from the thousands on the ground and the many hundreds in the skies above. They are surely calling out “Shalom aleichem, my friends, alechem shalom, so glad you arrived,” for it is known that cranes inform each other of favorable domiciles.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/a-trip-to-the-banias/2012/12/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: