Chapter 11: The Battle of Panea

Chapter 11
The Battle of Panea


Antiochus III, the king of the north, was defeated at Raphia in 217 B.C. and thereby lost control of Judea. For the next twenty years Judea was controlled by Egypt. But when the Egyptian king died, and his five-year-old son took the throne (Ptolemy V), the Syrian king began plotting to retake Judea.

Daniel 11:13 prophesied this, saying,

13 For the king of the North [Antiochus III] will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.

In 200 B.C. Antiochus III raised a large army and began to reconquer territory that he had lost earlier. 198 he defeated the Egyptian army at Panea (also spelled Paneas) at the head of the Jordan River, and Judea again became a Syrian province. Perhaps it is significant that this decisive battle would occur at Panea. Hence it is called the Battle of Panium, or Paneas. (The modern spelling is Banias.)

The King of the North, says the angel, would come “with a great army and much equipment.” The “equipment” is probably a reference to the first use of the cataphract. This was the precursor to the later knights in Europe. Cataphracts were fully-armored knights who rode fully-armored horses.

Daniel 11:14 continues,

14 Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the south; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.

Philip V of Macedon had been allied with Antiochus since 203 when they signed an agreement to help each other conquer Egyptian-controlled territory. Syria also received assistance from Egyptian dissidents and, more importantly, from Judean rebels (“violent ones among your people”) who were angry with Ptolemy for desecrating the temple. Josephus tells us,

“Yet it was not long afterward when Antiochus overcame Scopas [the Egyptian general] in a battle fought at the fountains of Jordan [Panea], and destroyed a great part of his army. But afterward, when Antiochus subdued those cities of Coelsyria which Scopas had gotten into his possession, and Samaria with them, the Jews, of their own accord, went over to him and received him into the city [Jerusalem] and gave plentiful provision to all his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him when he besieged the garrison which was in the citadel of Jerusalem.” [Antiquities of the Jews, XII, iii, 3]

The angel spoke of these Judeans as being men of violence, who had some kind of “vision” that they thought could be fulfilled by helping Antiochus defeat Ptolemy. In fact, Antiochus did reward them for their help. He paid for the repair of the temple and the city which had suffered damage from the wars. He allowed them religious freedom. He even sent 2,000 Jewish families (as colonists) to Lydia and Phrygia to secure Syria’s rule, giving them freedom from taxation for ten years.

From the angelic point of view, these Judeans attempted to “fulfill the vision,” but fell, or failed, in the long run. The vision in this case was the vision of independence and the establishment of the prophecies regarding the Kingdom of God.

Of course, all of this goodwill failed a few decades later when Antiochus Epiphanes reversed his father’s policy and attempted to replace Judean culture with Greek culture and to convert the Judeans to the Greek religion of Epicureanism. To accomplish this, he turned the temple in Jerusalem into a shrine to Zeus, setting off a revolt that brought about Judean independence for a hundred years.

In Daniel 11:15, 16 the angel then spoke of the capture of Panea and the subsequent occupation of Judea.

15 Then the king of the North will come, cast up a siege mound, and capture a well-fortified city [Panea] ; and the forces of the south will not stand their ground, not even their choicest troops, for there will be no strength to make a stand. 16 But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to withstand him; he will also stay for a time in the Beautiful Land [Judea], with destruction in his hand.

The Battle of Panea marked a turning point in prophetic history, for it brought Judea under the control of Syria, setting the stage for the desecration of the temple about thirty years later. The fact that the decisive battle was fought at Panea gives significance to the Greek god who was said to live there.

Panea and the Grotto of Pan

Panea was named for the Greek god Pan and the Grotto of Pan where he lived. Many years later Jesus took His disciples there, and there Peter had his great revelation in Matt. 16:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

By that time a new city had been built there, known as Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13).

The Greek god, Pan, is known as Azazel in Lev. 16:8 (mistrans-lated “scapegoat”). Azazel was the goat-god, half man and half goat. He was a representation of the devil, which tempted Jesus in the wilderness during His forty-day fast (Matt. 4:1, 2). Recall that the two goats on the Day of Atonement both represented Jesus but in different ways. Jesus was the first goat who was “for Yahweh,” but He was also the second goat who was “for Azazel.” Being led into the wilderness “for Azazel” meant that Christ was to be led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

The second goat depicts the second work of Christ at the end of the wilderness temptation. It is portrayed in Scripture as Joshua leading Israel into the Promised Land after Israel’s forty-year temptation in the wilderness. It is fulfilled in the forty-Jubilee time that the Church has spent in its own wilderness.

Entering the Promised Land is accomplished by Joshua the Ephraimite. Therefore, it coincides in our time with the Feast of Tabernacles, which brings about the glorification of the body and the manifestation of the Sons of God. The Sons who are glorified at that time will receive their heavenly garments (2 Cor. 5:1-4) and thereafter will have the ability to be clothed with either a physical or a spiritual body at will. Like Jesus, they will be able to appear or to disappear simply by changing garments.

Pan is a counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles, and the Grotto of Pan is a counterfeit booth. Pan was pictured as half man and half goat in order to simulate the Sons of God—half man and half “goat” (i.e., Christ). But becoming the Sons of God cannot be done carnally through the power of Pan. It must be done by the power of the first goat, whose blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat.

The battle of Panea ended Egyptian rule over Judea. Spiritually speaking, it empowered Pan, the god of the counterfeit Tabernacles feast. Truth would soon be cast to the ground under Antiochus Epiphanes. In fact, the title Epiphanes, “God Manifest,” was the Greek carnal version of the Epiphany of Christ. The Greeks used this word epiphany to describe one of their gods when he appeared in a glorious manifestation to help in answer to their prayers. No doubt Antiochus III believed that Pan had made such an appearance to assist him in defeating the Egyptian army at Panea and in taking control of Judea.

Paul wrote about the epiphany of Christ in 2 Thess. 2:8,

8 And then that lawless one [anomos] will be revealed [apokalupsis, “unveiled, exposed”] whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance [epiphaneia] of His coming.

So the Scriptures take issue with the carnal religion of Greek culture. Although Zeus was its chief god, Pan represented the false manifestation, glory, brightness, or epiphany of their counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles. The connection between Pan and Vainglory can thus be seen, for Vainglory is the absence of Truth and pictures groundless and empty glory. It seems to me that the god that the Greeks called Pan is who we call Vainglory.

The Treaty of Apamea (188 B.C.)

After Antiochus took Judea, he continued his conquests in Asia Minor, where he took various coastal cities that had been under the dominion of Egypt. He also took some independent cities, which earned him the antagonism of the rising Roman Republic.

In 192 Antiochus invaded Greece with an army of 10,000. Rome was fully aroused by this time and sent an army that defeated Antiochus. This was known as the Roman-Seleucid War (192-188). The Romans defeated Antiochus at Thermopolae in 191, forcing them to retreat to Asia Minor. The Romans followed them and again defeated the Syrian army in 190. A peace treaty was signed in 188, which forced Antiochus to pay the cost for the war (450 tons of silver), to give up all but 12 ships, and to give up all of his elephants. His son, Antiochus IV (later known as “Epiphanes”) was also taken as a hostage to Rome.

At this point Rome was still only an indirect power, because they derived most of their power from alliances with other powers. Nonetheless, after defeating Antiochus, they secured much influence east of the Mediterranean Sea.

The treaty was signed, but the outlying areas revolted against Antiochus when they saw how his power had eroded. Antiochus tried to subdue the revolts, but died the next year while pillaging a temple. Because his oldest son, Antiochus IV, was a hostage in Rome, his younger brother, Seleucus IV (“Philopater”) took the throne of Syria, ruling until 175 B.C.