Caves are natural hollow spaces in the earth, or in rock formations, which are usually created by the chemical or erosion forces of water. Caves are very often found in limestone due to its high solubility, which virtually guaranteed that many would be found in the land of Israel. Limestone is very common there.
In The Past
Caves were often found in the Bible Places of Bible History.
"So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley [see The Destruction Of Sodom], God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt. Now Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave with his two daughters." (Genesis 19:29-30 RSV)
One of the most famous caves in the world, today still fiercely contested between Jews and Arabs for possession, is the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob/Israel and Leah all are buried:
"So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave which was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan." (Genesis 23:17-19 RSV)
"Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife." (Genesis 25:8-10 RSV)
"Then he charged them, and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah - the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites." When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 49:29-33 RSV)
The Ten Commandments:
"And The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] said, "Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." The Lord said to Moses, "Cut two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain." (Exodus 33:21-34:2 RSV)
Throughout Old Testament events:
"Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal. These five kings fled, and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, "The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah." And Joshua said, "Roll great stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them; but do not stay there yourselves, pursue your enemies, fall upon their rear, do not let them enter their cities; for The Lord your God has given them into your hand." (Joshua 10:15-19 RSV)
"And the hand of Midian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens which are in the mountains, and the caves and the strongholds." (Judges 6:2 RSV) (see Gideon)
"David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And every one who was in distress, and every one who was in debt, and every one who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men." (1 Samuel 22:1-2 RSV) (see Saul and King David)
"After many days the word of The Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab [see Kings of Israel and Judah]; and I will send rain upon the earth." So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. Now Obadiah revered The Lord greatly; and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of The Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)" (1 Kings 18:1-4 RSV)
At least one of the Psalms by David (Psalm 142) was written in a cave.
"A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. I cry with my voice to The Lord, with my voice I make supplication to The Lord, I pour out my complaint before Him, I tell my trouble before Him. When my spirit is faint, Thou knowest my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. I look to the right and watch, but there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me, no man cares for me. I cry to thee, O Lord; I say, Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Give heed to my cry; for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors; for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to Thy name! The righteous will surround me; for Thou wilt deal bountifully with me." (Psalm 142:1-7 RSV)
The New Testament:
"Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:38-40 RSV) (see Jesus Christ, Lazarus, Come Out! and Martha and Mary)
"Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Hebrews 11:36-38 RSV) (see Martyrs and The Elect)
In The Future
Caves will, according to Prophecy, again be used by some humans in the end-time.
"And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of The Lord, and from the glory of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth. In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship [see Images and Idols], to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of The Lord, and from the glory of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth." (Isaiah 2:19-21 RSV) (see The Return Of Jesus Christ and The Seven Seals)
"Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?" (Revelation 6:15-17 RSV) (see Grapes Of Wrath)
Fact Finder: Were the Dead Sea Scrolls found in caves?
See The Dead Sea Scrolls
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