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MARESHAH (ma-rē’sha, Heb. mārēshâh, a possession)

MARESHAH mə rē’ shə (מָרֵשָׁ֖ה, perhaps head place). 1. A Canaanite city in Judah’s lowland, the modern Tell Sandahannah, one m. SE of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin); strengthened by Rehoboam, in the early 9th cent. b.c. (2 Chron 11:8). Asa met a threateningly large Ethiopian army under Zerah nearby in the valley of Zephathah. Victorious by divine aid, he drove the enemy back to Gerar, thirty m. SW of Mareshah (2 Chron 14:9-15).

Eliezer of Mareshah foretold the failure of Jehoshaphat’s naval expedition bound for Tarshish, because of the unholy alliance with Ahaziah of Israel (2 Chron 20:35-37). Micah’s famous paranomasia (Mic 1:15) speaks of a promised heir (RSV, “conqueror”) to Mareshah.

During the Exile, the Edomites infiltrated S Judah, and Mareshah (thereafter commonly, Marisa) became a capital city. Beginning early in the 3rd cent. b.c., the place was successively occupied by the Seleucids (Syrians), the Ptolemies (Egyptians), and again by the Seleucids. About 250 b.c. a Sidonian colony under Apollophanes settled in Marisa, which archeological discoveries confirm.

Even under Egyp. rule, the Sidonians began to use Gr. names instead of Phoen. Excavations reveal a Grecian style city, with right angle streets and a number of houses in regular blocks. The place was the center of Idumean slave trade in the 3rd cent. b.c. In Maccabean times, it retained its importance. Gorgias, governor of Idumea, took refuge there in 164 b.c. (2 Macc 12:35). About the year 110 b.c., John Hyrcanus apparently subdued the city, circumcising such Idumeans as chose to remain (Jos. Antiq. XIII. ix. 1). In 63 b.c., Pompey recovered Marisa for the Idumeans; and c. 57 b.c., Gabinius, Rom. governor of Syria, rebuilt its fortifications. Caesar’s rule brought the city into Judah’s bounds, 47 b.c. He appointed Hyrcanus high priest, and Antipater, procurator (Jos. Antiq. XIV. v. 4; viii. 5. x. 3-6). Later, Antipater’s son, Herod, fled to Marisa escaping from Antigonus and allies (Jos. Antiq. XIV. xiii. 9). In 40 b.c. the place was destroyed and never rebuilt. Eleutheropolis, c. two Rom. m. away, became the important regional city.

2. The first-born son of Caleb, and as appears, the father of Ziph and Hebron (the text seems confused, 1 Chron 2:42). He is first called Mesha; later Mareshah.

3. A Judahite, son of Laadah (1 Chron 4:21).


W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (1942), 146f.; J. Bright, History of Israel (1959) 123, 215, 401; M. Noth, History of Israel (1960); W. F. Albright, Archaeology of Palestine (1960), 152f.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A town in the Shephelah of Judah named with Keilah and Achzib (Jos 15:44). It occupied such a position that Rehoboam thought well to fortify it for the protection of Jerusalem (2Ch 11:8). In the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah, Asa overwhelmed Zerah the Ethiopian and his army, pursuing them as far as Gezer (2Ch 14:9 ). From Mareshah came Eliezer the prophet who denounced disaster upon the commercial copartnery of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah (2Ch 20:37). The place is mentioned in Mic (2Ch 1:15). Mareshah was plundered and burned by Judas Maccabeus (Ant., XII, viii, 6; 1 Macc 5:66 the Revised Version margin). Hither Gorgias escaped, having been rescued from the hands of Dositheus by a Thracian horseman (2 Macc 12:35). It was taken by John Hyrcanus, who allowed the inhabitants to remain on condition that they adopt circumcision and submit to the Jewish law. This they did; and later John avenged an injustice done to Mareshah by the Samaritans. It is then described as "a colony of Jews" (Ant., XIII, ix, 1; x, 2). The city was treated with favor by Pompey (XIV, iv, 4). When the Parthians invaded Judea in support of Antigonus they demolished Mareshah (xiii, 9).

According to Eusebius, Onomasticon, Mareshah was 2 Roman miles from Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin). Until recently it was thought that Khirbet Mir`ash, where the old name lingers, not far Southwest of Beit Jibrin, represented the ancient city. The work of Dr. Bliss, however ("Excavations in Palestine," PEF), shows that it must be located at Tell Sandachannah, about a mile South of Beit Jibrin. A series of remarkable tombs was discovered here. From 1Ch 2:42 we may perhaps gather that Hebron was colonized by the men of Mareshah.