|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
There are numerous natural caves among the limestone rocks of Syria, many of which have been artificially enlarged for various purposes.
The first notice of a cave occurs in the history of Lot (Genesis 19:30).
The next we read of is the cave of Machpelah (q.v.), which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth (Genesis 25:9, 10). It was the burying-place of Sarah and of Abraham himself, also of Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (Genesis 49:31; 50:13).
The cave of Makkedah, into which the five Amorite kings retired after their defeat by Joshua (10:16, 27).
The cave of Adullam (q.v.), an immense natural cavern, where David hid himself from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1, 2).
The cave of Engedi (q.v.), 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 followers to the number of 600 (23:29; 24:1). "On all sides the country is full of caverns which might serve as lurking-places for David and his men, as they do for outlaws at the present day."
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).
Caves were frequently used as dwelling-places (Numbers 24:21; Cant. 2:14; Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 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). Those which had niches in their sides were occupied as burying-places (Ezek. 32:23; John 11:38).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A hollow place in the earth, either natural or artificial; a subterraneous cavity; a cavern; a den.
2. (n.) Any hollow place, or part; a cavity.
3. (n.) To make hollow; to scoop out.
4. (v. i.) To dwell in a cave.
5. (v. i.) To fall in or down; as, the sand bank caved. Hence (Slang), to retreat from a position; to give way; to yield in a disputed matter.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kav ([me`arah] (compare Arabic magharah), chor (Job 30:6 the King James Version), mechilloth (Isaiah 2:19); ope (Hebrews 11:38), spelaion (John 11:38); chor, more often rendered "hole," is akin to Arabic khaur, "gulf" or "inlet," but is also related to me`arah (compare also Arabic ghaur "low-land," especially of the Jordan valley and Dead Sea). Mechilloth (root, chalal, "to pierce" (compare Arabic khall, "to pierce")) occurs only in Isaiah 2:19, where the King James Version has "caves" and translates me`aroth in the same verse by "holes." In the Revised Version (British and American) these words are very properly changed about. Spelaion is a common Greek word for "cave"; ope means rather "hole"): In Palestine as in other limestone countries, caves are of frequent occurrence, and not a few of large size are known. Water from the rain and snow, seeping down through cracks, enlarges the passages through which it goes by dissolving away the substance of the rock. Just as upon the surface of the land the trickling streams unite to form brooks and rivers, so many subterranean streams may come together in a spacious channel, and may issue upon the surface as a bold spring. The cave of the Dog River near Beirut and that of 'Afqa (perhaps Aphek (Joshua 13:4)) in Lebanon are excellent examples of this. Not infrequently after forming a cave the stream of water may find some lower outlet by a different route, leaving its former course dry. In some cases the hinder part of the roof of the cave may fall in, leaving the front part standing as a natural bridge. Numerous shallow caves, especially in the faces of cliffs, are formed not by seeping water, but by atmospheric erosion, a portion of a relatively soft stratum of rock being hollowed out, while harder strata above and below it are but little worn away. Many of the hermits' caves originated in this way and were artificially enlarged and walled up at the mouth. The principal caves mentioned in the Bible are those of MACHPELAH, MAKKEDAH and ADULLAM (which see).
Alfred Ely Day
Cave (40 Occurrences)
Matthew 21:13 "It is written," He said, "'My House shall be called the House of Prayer', but you are making it a robbers' cave." (WEY)
Mark 11:17 And He remonstrated with them. "Is it not written," He said, "'My House shall be called The House of Prayer for all the nations?' But you have made it what it now is--a robbers' cave." (WEY)
Luke 19:46 "It is written," He said, "'And My house shall be the House of Prayer,' but you have made it a robbers' cave." (WEY)
John 11:38 Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 19:30 Lot went up out of Zoar, and lived in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to live in Zoar. He lived in a cave with his two daughters. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 23:9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me among you for a possession of a burying-place." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 23:11 "No, my lord, hear me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the children of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 23:17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all of its borders, were deeded (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 23:19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 23:20 The field, and the cave that is in it, were deeded to Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the children of Heth. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 25:9 Isaac and Ishmael, his sons, buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre, (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 49:29 He instructed 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, (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 49:30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 49:32 the field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 50:13 for his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field, for a possession of a burial site, from Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:16 These five kings fled, and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:17 Joshua was told, saying, "The five kings are found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:18 Joshua said, "Roll large stones to the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them; (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:22 Then Joshua said, "Open the mouth of the cave, and bring those five kings out of the cave to me." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:23 They did so, and brought those five kings out of the cave to him: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:27 It happened at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave in which they had hidden themselves, and laid great stones on the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 15:8 He struck them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and lived in the cleft of the rock of Etam. (See NIV)
Judges 15:11 Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, "Don't you know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?" He said to them, "As they did to me, so have I done to them." (See NIV)
1 Samuel 22:1 David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 24:3 He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 24:7 So David checked his men with these words, and didn't allow them to rise against Saul. Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 24:8 David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 24:10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how that Yahweh had delivered you today into my hand in the cave. Some urged me to kill you; but I spared you; and I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is Yahweh's anointed. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Samuel 17:9 Behold, he is now hidden in some pit, or in some other place. It will happen, when some of them have fallen at the first, that whoever hears it will say,'There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom!' (See NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 23:13 Three of the thirty chief men went down, and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam; and the troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 18:4 for it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of Yahweh, that Obadiah took one hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 18:13 Wasn't it told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh, how I hid one hundred men of Yahweh's prophets with fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 19:9 He came there to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 19:13 It was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. Behold, a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 11:15 Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines were encamped in the valley of Rephaim. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 56:13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: 'Hast thou' not 'delivered' my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? Psalm 57 For the Chief Musician; 'set to' Al-tash-heth. 'A Psalm' of David. Michtam; when he fled from Saul, in the cave. (ASV)
Psalms 57:1 For the Chief Musician. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." A poem by David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Be merciful to me, God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you. Yes, in the shadow of your wings, I will take refuge, until disaster has passed. (WEB JPS DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Psalms 142:1 A contemplation by David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. I cry with my voice to Yahweh. With my voice, I ask Yahweh for mercy. (WEB JPS DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 48:28 Leave the cities, and dwell in the rocks, ye inhabitants of Moab, and be like the dove, that maketh her nest in the sides of the cave's mouth. (DBY NIV)
Nahum 2:11 Where is the den of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion and the lioness walked, the lion's cubs, and no one made them afraid? (See RSV)