Caves in the Bible Lands

From  a February 2004 Teaching

This teaching is about the usage of caves in biblical times. There are great records of people using caves for various reasons.

Caves used as a refuge or dwelling place:

David found refuge and assembled an army:

I Samuel 22:1-2

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. 2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

The record continues…

I Samuel 24:1-3

And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. 3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

Saul “covers his feet” or takes a break in the cave at Engedi.

David could have taken Saul’s life in the cave, but he chose not to because he still viewed Saul as “The Lord’s anointed.”

I Samuel 24:4-6

And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6 And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.

I Samuel 24:17-22 Saul is thankful for his life and gets back into fellowship with God. A Godly decision yields Godly results!

17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. 18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. 19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. 21 Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house. 22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.

Obadiah hid a hundred prophets in a cave:

1 Kings 18:4

For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.

Caves used as Tombs:

Abraham buried his wife Sarah:

Genesis 23:19

And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.

Abraham was buried with his wife:

Genesis 25:9-10

And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

-“Zohar the Hittite”-The Hittite tribe was located where Turkey is today.

-Today, what is thought to be the traditional site of the cave of Machpelah is covered by a mosque


I recommend reading John 11:1-45 in your own personal study time.

Here is verse 38: Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

Jesus Christ goes on to raise Lazarus from the dead in verses 43-44

Jesus Christ himself was buried three days and three nights in a cave:

Matthew 27:59-60

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Matthew 28:5-6 He is risen!

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

These are some of the examples of how people used caves in biblical times.

“It is one of the remarkable features of the Bible that it contains enough to occupy the greatest intellects for a lifetime, and yet the simplest soul can read and understand, and in reading with an obedient heart, find God himself.” -Eerdman’s Handbook to the bible