The Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a large (1,250 acres) beautiful park at the nexus of the Judean Hills and the lowlands by the coast. It is the geology of Bet Guvrin that makes it special for us today: a covering of chalk over a harder rock called nari. People in antiquity realized that if they could get past the tough exterior they could then utilize the softer interior for storage, burial and even their homes. Bet Guvrin and the surrounding countryside is filled with such caves, by the thousands and they were used to good effect as hideouts by the Jews against the Romans during the 2nd century Bar Kochva rebellion.

The bible tells us of the defense line which included Mareshah and other points along the low hills leading up into the heart of Judea by the capital Judea. Thus, Maresha served as a line of defense for Jerusalem. King Rehoboam of Judah fortified Maresha after the Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak fought a military campaign here: “And Rehoboam…built cities for defense in Judah…Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph” (2 Chron. 11:5-8). Later the city reached its zenith during the Greek reign over the land. Heralding a short period of independent Jewish sovereignty, John Hyrcanus, of the Hasmonean line of kings conquered the city in the second century BCE. It’s inhabitants were forced to convert or leave. and forcibly converted its inhabitants.