When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi
The towns that were in the neighbourhood of this city; which city went by several names before, as Leshem, ( Joshua 19:47 ) which being taken by the Danites, they called it Dan; hence we read of (Nwyroyqd) (Nd) , "Dan, which is Caesarea" F2. It was also called Paneas, from the name of the fountain of Jordan, by which it was situated; and which Pliny says F3 gave the surname to Caesarea; and hence it is called by Ptolomy F4 Caesarea Paniae; and by the name of Paneas it went, when Philip the F5 tetrarch rebuilt it, and called it Caesarea, in honour of Tiberius Caesar; and from his own name, Philippi, to distinguish it from another Caesarea, of which mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles, built by his father Herod, and so called in honour of Augustus Caesar; which before bore the name of Strato's tower. The Misnic doctors speak of two Caesareas F6, the one they call the eastern, the other the western Caesarea. Now, as Mark says, whilst Christ and his disciples were in the way to these parts; and, as Luke, when he had been praying alone with them,
he asked his disciples, saying, whom do men say that I the Son of
He calls himself "the son of man", because he was truly and really man; and because of his low estate, and the infirmities of human nature, with which he was encompassed: he may have some respect to the first intimation of him, as the seed of woman, and the rather make use of this phrase, because the Messiah was sometimes designed by it in the Old Testament, ( Psalms 80:17 ) ( Daniel 7:13 ) or Christ speaks here of himself, according to his outward appearance, and the prevailing opinion of men concerning him; that he looked to be only a mere man, born as other men were; was properly a son of man, and no more: and therefore the question is, not what sort of man he was, whether a holy, good man, or not, or whether the Messiah, or not; but the question is, what men in general, whether high or low, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, under the notion they had of him as a mere man, said of him; or since they took him to be but a man, what man they thought he was; and to this the answer is very appropriate. This question Christ put to his disciples, they being more conversant with the people than he, and heard the different opinions men had of him, and who were more free to speak their minds of him to them, than to himself; not that he was ignorant of what passed among men, and the different sentiments they had of him, but he was willing to hear the account from his disciples; and his view in putting this question to them, was to make way for another, in order to bring them to an ingenuous confession of their faith in him.
F2 Targum Hieros. in Gen. xiv. 17.
F3 Hist. l. 5. c. 15, 18.
F4 Geograph. l. 5. c. 15.
F5 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 18. c. & de Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 13.
F6 Misn. Oholot, c. 18. sect. 9.