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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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or CAVERNS. The country of Judea, being mountainous and rocky, is in many parts full of caverns, to which allusions frequently occur in the Old Testament. At Engedi, in particular, there was a cave so large, that David, with six hundred men, hid themselves in the sides of it, and Saul entered the mouth of the cave without perceiving that any one was there, 1 Samuel 24. Josephus tells us of a numerous gang of banditti, who, having infested the country, and being pursued by Herod with his army, retired into certain caverns, almost inaccessible, near Arbela in Galilee, where they were with great difficulty subdued. "Beyond Damascus," says Strabo, "are two mountains, called Trachones, from which the country has the name of Trachonitis; and from hence, toward Arabia and Iturea, are certain rugged mountains, in which there are deep caverns; one of which will hold four thousand men." Tavernier, in his "Travels in Persia," speaks of a grotto between Aleppo and Bir, that would hold near three thousand horse. And Maundrell assures us, that "three hours distant from Sidon, about a mile from the sea, there runs along a high rocky mountain, in the sides of which are hewn a multitude of grottoes, all very little differing from each other. They have entrances about two foot square. There are of these subterraneous caverns two hundred in number. It may, with probability, at least, be concluded that these places were contrived for the use of the living, and not of the dead." These extracts may be useful in explaining such passages of Scripture as the following: "Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made them dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds," Judges 6:2 . To these they betook themselves for refuge in times of distress and hostile invasion:—

"When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, for the people were distressed, then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits," 1 Samuel 13:6 . See also Jeremiah 41:9 : "To enter into the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth," became with the prophets a very proper and familiar image to express a state of terror and consternation. Thus Isaiah 2:19 : "They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Caves'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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