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The Cave Psalm

Israel has been home to a vast system of wadis from the most ancient of times. Wadis are dried waterways that experience seasonal flooding. They can vastly range in size from shallow to very deep, and narrow to very wide. They are beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous, even today.

In the wadis of Israel many important artifacts have been found, preserved for millennia in the dry, arid caves that dot and hide in the natural landscape. The most famous of these discoveries are the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Their discovery kicked off years of exploration, a gold rush of sorts, whose goal was any ancient thing that could be sold or studied.  Strangely one of the most interesting results of the wadi cave gold rush seems to be in the recognition of the caves themselves!

They are beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous, even today.

From Biblical and extra-Biblical literature knowledge of Israel’s caves and their special usage has been passed on for generations.  The most famous Biblical instance is David’s use of them as refuge with his scoundrels, those pre-mighty men, while being hunted by King Saul (1 Samuel 22-23). Caves were a nearly perfect refuge: Difficult to reach, spacious enough to house many, and with entrances often hidden from plain sight.  With the modern exploration of several cave complexes, it’s known how these caves were even modified for specific uses. Some had minor improvements like shelving and pits dug for storing valuables, while others were majorly upgraded with artificial expansion and new, better disguised entrances with added defense. In times of uncertainty some locals had caves as their insurance policy, a humble concept that even mighty king David had to use. Passages like Psalm 57 assure us that David’s stay in a cave was a memorable one.

 

Corie Bobechko | May 1, 2019 – 12:30 PM EST.