The Caves at Adullam Maranatha Tours Travel Guide

Caves of Addulam

King Saul was well aware that his days as the king of Israel were numbered. Not only had the prophet, Samuel, foretold the end of Saul’s reign (1 Samuel 15:27–28), but Samuel had also anointed David as his successor while Saul was still the king (1 Samuel 16:13). Rather than submitting to the will of the Lord, however, Saul considered David a threat and sought to kill him. For four years, David was on the run, hiding from Saul throughout the land of Israel. From Gibeah to Moab, and from the wilderness of Ziph to Ein Gedi, David and his men hid in shelters, strongholds, and caves, and even found refuge among the Philistines. One of David’s earliest and most trusted hideouts, however, was the Cave at Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1-2; 2 Samuel 23:13).

Adullam was located in the Shephelah region of Israel just south of the upper end of the Elah Valley where the hills begin to rise into the Judean Highlands. It was just five miles from the site where David slew the Philistine giant, Goliath, propelling him into the national spotlight in Israel. It was also just 12 miles from Bethlehem. The cave near Adullam may have been a secret encampment that David discovered as a boy while shepherding in the lowlands outside of Bethlehem.

Adullam was originally a Canaanite city-state from which Jacob’s son, Judah, took a wife (Genesis 38:1-2). It is listed among the cities conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:15), and it was also included in the land-grant given to the tribe of Judah after the conquest (Joshua 15:35). When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became King of Judah, he rebuilt and fortified Adullam as a defense city for Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 11:7). Adullam flourished during the kingdom period until the Assyrians captured and destroyed it along with 45 other Judean cities during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:1). The destruction of Adullam is foretold in Micah’s prophecy (Micah 1:15). After the exile, Adullam was rebuilt and inhabited again (Nehemiah 11:30), but most likely fell out of use as the Judean population moved to the bigger cities in Israel.

Today, Adullam is a wooded hill where evidence of a once thriving ancient civilization lies mostly buried. Only a few rock structures may be seen at the surface of the site. In 2016, a preliminary survey was conducted in advance of plans to excavate the area. Tel Adullam is part of the Adullam Park and Nature Reserve that was created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. In addition to Tel Adullam, the park also includes four second-Temple period sites, Byzantine-era structures, numerous caves and subterranean complexes, and a system of tunnels and rooms that were carved out of the soft limestone by the Bar Kokhba rebels to hide from the Romans in AD 132–135.

The exact identity of the biblical Cave of Adullam where David hid from Saul is unknown; but the sites at Adullam Park are open for exploration, and courageous and agile visitors will enjoy exploring the hidden caves and tunnels. Relive the biblical adventure by including a visit to the Adullam Park and Nature Reserve on you next trip to Israel.

Richard Liverance, ThM, DMin
Western Regional Marketing Director USA
Israel Ministry of Tourism

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The Caves at Adullam Maranatha Tours Travel Guide

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