Caves were frequently used as dwelling-places (Numbers 24:21; Song of Songs 2:14; Jeremiah 49:16; Obad. 1:3). “The excavations at Deir Dubban, on the south side of the wady leading to Santa Hanneh, are probably the dwellings of the Horites,” the ancient inhabitants of Idumea proper.
The pits or cavities in rocks were also sometimes used as prisons (Isaiah 24:22; 51:14; Zechariah 9:11).
Caves that had niches in their sides were used as burial places (Ezek. 32:23; John 11:38).
There are numerous natural caves among the limestone rocks of Syria, many of which have been artificially enlarged for various purposes.
Notable biblical caves
The first mention of a cave in Scripture occurs in the history of Lot (Genesis 19:30).
Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed [dwelled] in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed [dwelled] in a cave, he and his two daughters. —Genesis 19:30 NASB
The next we read of is the Cave of Machpelah (Hebrew: מערת המכפלה —transliteration: Ma'arat HaMachpelah), which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth (Genesis 25:9-10). It was the burial place of Sarah and of Abraham himself, also of Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (Genesis 49:31; 50:13). (also see: Ishmael)
The site today venerated is in Hebron and is known as the Cave of the Patriarchs. For observant Jews, it is their 2nd most holy place. It is also sacred to Muslims. Over the cave is the Ibrahimi Mosque, converted from a 2-thousand year old Judean building (Herodian-era).
Site of the venerated Cave of the Patriarchs (supposed Cave of Machpelah
The Cave of Makkedah—into which the 5 Amorite kings retired after their defeat by Joshua (10:16, 27).
The Cave of Adullam—an immense natural cavern, where David hid himself from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
The Cave of Engedi—now called 'Ain Jidy, i.e., the “Fountain of the Kid”, where David cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe (24:4). Here he also found a shelter for himself and his 600 followers (23:29; 24:1).
“On all sides the country is full of caverns which might serve as lurking-places for David and his men…”
The cave in which Obadiah hid the prophets (1 Kings 18:4) was probably in the north, but it cannot be identified.
The Cave of Elijah (1 Kings 19:9), and the “cleft” of Moses on Horeb (Exodus 33:22), cannot be determined.
In the time of Gideon the Israelites took refuge from the Midianites in dens and caves, such as abounded in the mountain regions of Manasseh (Judges 6:2).
- cave of Adullam
- cavemen and the Bible
- For a time, Elijah lived in a cave—see: Elijah
- Machpelah cave
- STONE AGE—What about the “Stone Age” people, are they real? Answer
- Discovered burial sites in the Bible, including caves
- DEAD SEA SCROLLS found in a cave—What is the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Answer
- Ancient Israelite teeth found in a cave—What can 792 teeth tell archaeologists about ancient Israelites? Answer
- Makkedah—5 kings hid in a nearby cave
- the Royal Quarries in Jerusalem
- owl—living in caves
- Obadiah—hid 100 prophets in a cave
- cave under the Mosque of Omar on the Jerusalem temple mount—see: altar
- a so-called “Holy House” in Nazareth under a Roman Catholic church
- King Debir of Eglon hid in a cave
- Zohar—owner of the cave of Machpelah
- Fountain of the Virgin—in a cave
- Tabun Cave—Nahal Me'arot Nature Reserve, Israel
- Avshalom Cave, aka Soreq Cave—on the western side of Mt.Ye'ela, in the Judean hills
- Es Skhul—20km south of Haifa, Israel, 2km from the Mediterranean
- HaYonim Cave—upper Galilee, Israel
- Pa'ar Cave—Upper Galilee, Israel
Article Version: September 3, 2017