Beth Guvrin


By Dr. Randall Smith
Courtesy of Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.

"The City of Liberty" - ("Eleutheropolis") that's what Roman Emperor Septimius Severus called Bet Guvrin. Archeologists have uncovered impressive findings in this ancient Roman city. Among them an amphitheater, perhaps the most obvious example of Roman "culture".

Located along the main route connecting such ancient cities as Lachish to its south, Azekah to the north and Maresha on the east, Beth Guvrin is also famous for its massive "Bell Caves". These were actually man-made quarries dug out in order to extract soft chalk rock for construction.

Share This Post

By Dr. Randall Smith
Courtesy of Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.

“The City of Liberty” – (“Eleutheropolis”) that’s what Roman Emperor Septimius Severus called Bet Guvrin. Archeologists have uncovered impressive findings in this ancient Roman city. Among them an amphitheater, perhaps the most obvious example of Roman “culture”.

Located along the main route connecting such ancient cities as Lachish to its south, Azekah to the north and Maresha on the east, Beth Guvrin is also famous for its massive “Bell Caves”. These were actually man-made quarries dug out in order to extract soft chalk rock for construction. Slaves would struggle to open a shaft through the hard limestone surface and continue to dig down through the chalk layer.

Bet Guvrin contains hundreds of such caves. Many of them were in secondary use: as cisterns, burial chambers and columbaria for raising doves.

During the Crusader period a large church and castle were built over the ruins of the Roman city.

History of Excavations:

  1. 1900: Bliss and MacAllister excavated at Maresha for British Palestine Exploration Fund.
  2. 1902: Thiersch and Peters (Sidonian Burials)
  3. 1969-75 Ben Arieh (survey)
  4. 1989-onward Amos Kloner (Israel Antiquity Authorities)

History of Occupation: (Mareshah/Eleutheropolis/Bet Jubrin)

  1. Late Bronze Age: Joshua 15:44 mentioned as city of Judah.
  2. United Kingdom: no mention.
  3. Divided Kingdom: 1) A city fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:5-8). 2) Good King Asa (3rd king of DK) attacked by Zerah of Sudan (called the Ethiopian) sets stage for great victory spoils for Judah (2 Chronicles 14:8-10). 3) Micah 1:15 tells of the coming judgment described in the trail of Philistine armies from Gath to an invasion of Judah, it makes way through Mareshah.
  4. Judah Alone: no mention.
  5. Persian Period: no mention.
  6. Hellenistic Period: 4th century BC populated by Idumeans, Sidonians and Greeks, (based on burial evidence). Lower city built. Few Jews and Egyptians. Ca. 113 BC, John Hyrcanus I (Hasmonean) converted city and environs to Judaism, Upper and Lower city become ruins.
  7. Roman Period: Repopulated until destroyed in 40 BC by Parthians. Birthplace of Herod the Great. Replaced by Bet Guvrin: mentioned first by Josephus in 68 AD as conquered by Vespasian. Crowded with Jews between 70 AD and 132 AD. About 200 AD Emperor Septimus Severus renamed city Eleutheropolis or “city of the free”, granted it municiple status. Aqueducts, five highways, ampitheatre, public market built.
  8. Byzantine Period: 3-4th century AD sages mentioned like Rabbi Yonaton and Rabbi Yehuda Ben Yaacov lived here. Large Jewish cemetery discovered. Several churches (including St. Anne’s) built.
  9. Early Arab Period: Most of the “Bell caves” dug in early Arab period, used for building chalk road surfaces.
  10. Crusader Period: Church in lower city (near road) dedicated in 1136 AD.
  11. Modern Period: Arab village position of Egyptian Army (took British Taggart Fort) June 48, removed October ’48 by Israel. May ’49 kibbutz established.

© Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.

More

Updates

WHAT UTTER DECEPTION! THE PLO REJECTS ALL PEACE DEALS.

The PLO was instituted in 1964 three years before the six day war in June 1967 when Israel, in a war of self-defense, recovered the so-called “West Bank”, now seen and proclaimed by nearly everybody as the quintessence crux of the Middle East problem.
This however shows that the PLO (All Palestine needs to be liberated) was not formed to erect a Palestinian state on the ‘so called’ West Bank but was instituted to replace all of Israel with a Muslim Palestinian State.

A Word From Zion

The New Testament Basis for the Restoration of Israel

Jesus was asked by His disciples whether He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, to which He replied:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.