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"THEN THREE OF THE THIRTY CHIEF MEN WENT DOWN AT HARVEST TIME
 AND CAME TO DAVID AT THE CAVE OF ADULLAM...And DAVID SAID WITH
 LONGING, 'OH THAT SOMEONE WOULD GIVE ME A DRINK OF THE WATER
FROM THE WELL OF BETHLEHEM WHICH IS BY THE GATE'!”
SECOND Samuel 23     
                                 

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's hide with David in the Cave of Adullam

Have you ever been in a deprived or dangerous situation where you craved the comfort food of your childhood?  I suspect this was the case when David, hiding out from the king with his band of outlaws and refugees, longed for the sweet water of his childhood village.

Taking this whimsical comment literally, David's mightiest musketeers (Adino, Eleazar and Shammah) rose to the challenge.  They broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem by the city gate and brought it back to David.  But David refused to drink it.  Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord.  He said, "Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?"  (Second Samuel 23:17)

This episode takes place after David has killed Goliath with just a sling and a stone in the adjacent Elah Valley.  In the aftermath of the battle, David becomes a folk hero with a multitude of fans on Facebook as adoring women chant, "Saul has his thousands, but David his tens of thousands."
 

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Terebinth or elah tree in the Valley of Elah

 
Saul vows vengeance and David becomes a man on the run. In fact, he is Number 1 on the Most Wanted list of the kingdom of Israel.  In the lowlands of the Judean hills, Adullam is on the margins of both Saul's kingdom and the enemy Philistine territory.  It becomes an ideal center for organizing and recruiting "les miserables," the distressed, discontented and displaced, all on the margins of society.  These men helped David become the undisputed champion of the farmers in the area as he protected their fields against all kinds of marauders, particularly Philistine. 

Of the 400 men who gathered around David in the Cave of Adullam, Second Samuel names the top thirty-seven champions whose courageous deeds became legendary.  But most notable were the Gutsy Trio who dared to sneak into the Philistine stronghold at Bethlehem.  (Second Samuel 23)

Adino Haetzni slew 800 of the enemy at one go.  Eleazar ben Dudu tirelessly beat back the Philistine fighters with one hand, and Shammah ben Ageh defeated the enemy engaged in a field of lentils.  (Around the campfire they may have shared anecdotes later popularized as "Lentil Soup for the Soul!")

 

Map showing Adullam where David hid from Saul

Map adapted from Bible Mapper by itsGila

Map showing Adullam where David hid from Saul

 
In all these many years of guiding, I have often been asked about the location of the Cave of Adullam.  But I had never been inside – or even close. Access is difficult.  You need a jeep or safari vehicle with a driver knowing who to call to get certain gates unlocked.  And who knows the exact whereabouts of the cave itself.
 
So I was thrilled on a recent guide seminar sponsored by IGM and NET, two companies I have been working with since the middle 1980s, to get the opportunity to explore the Cave of Adullam.  A jeep brought us from our minibus up through a rugged stony forest to an opening at the summit with scattered ruins.  The entrance to the cave, however, was not at all obvious.  As a matter of fact, our driver had to call his mentor to get the exact coordinates.
 

An old sheikh's tomb indicates the opening to the Cave of Adullam

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Old sheikh's tomb next to the opening to the Cave of Adullam

 

The opening to the Cave of Adullam hidden by shadow

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The opening to the Cave of Adullam, hidden in shadow

 

Our guide Steve locating 2 Samuel 23 before entering the cave

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Our guide Steve locating 2 Samuel 23 before entering the Cave of Adullam

 
Once found, crawling into the cave was easy.  Disclosure: I really didn't crawl -- I bounced down into the cave on my well-padded fanny….Then I was astounded to discover how large and high the cave actually is.  It could easily fit up to 40 people!  Then I was ever more flabbergasted when the coin suddenly dropped and I realized that it's "the" cave.  The biblical geography is a snug fit and there was even once an Arab village named Id-el-ma that somewhat distorted yet preserved the ancient biblical name.
 

The Cave of Adullam is big enough for at least 40 people

Photo courtesy of Pete Albright, IGM

The Cave of Adullam is big enough for at least 40 people!

 
With little distractions, this hideaway where David and his most trusted band of outlaws found refuge from the search parties of both the Philistines and the army of Saul is an awesome venue.  We read the relevant passages from First and Second Samuel by the light of our flashlights and then trace David's wanderings and heroic exploits as a man on the run, until he is finally inaugurated king in Hebron.
 

Listening to First and Second Samuel inside the Cave of Adullam

Photo courtesy of Pete Albright, IGM

Listening to First and Second Samuel inside the Cave of Adullam

 
Someone may even suggest that later tales of popular bandits like Robin Hood and Jesse James are a takeoff on David's early escapades of deception, protection, extortion, and seduction!
 
But yet let's not forget to consider the transformation of David from lonely shepherd and sweet singer of lullabies to fearless warrior and brazen Mafia-style chieftain to the beloved anointed of the Almighty whose descendent would be destined to redeem the world.
 

Copyright 2016  Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

 
After our visit to the Cave of Adullam, we'll descend to the Valley of Elah (the battlefield where David fought the Philistine giant) and collect stones in the riverbed to use with our traditional slingshot that killed Goliath.  It's a cool tool to slay the giants in your life!

THE SLINGSHOT THAT KILLED GOLIATH

Just kidding.  But this “traditional” slingshot, woven in Bethlehem, David's hometown, makes a singular gift for anyone who wants to emulate David, and have fun doing it!  Use it as a visual for Sunday School Bible classes and as a prop for David and Goliath skits.  The slingshot is accompanied by a three-page commentary on the famous duel: the geographical setting, its historical roots and the “smoking sling.”

The slingshot comes without the stone – but to give you a sense of size, the stone is 2.5 inches in diameter, similar to the real size of the stone David would have picked up from the river bed.  The stone that hit Goliath’s forehead was not a pebble!

"The Slingshot that Killed Goliath"

 
If you are an armchair historian, a wannabe archeologist or a regular cool, curious and open-minded individual coming to Jerusalem, you'll want to book Gila for a half-day insight-full walk through the biblical sites in Jerusalem, D.C.  (David's capital)
 

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"Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights"

 
Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a Connecticut-born Yankee living in King David's court. She has been guiding in the footsteps of David for well over three decades.  Her tours are fun, funky and biblically inspired. And she knows A LOT about biblical archeology!  She revels in showing veteran tour leaders new sites that illustrate the Bible in living color and three dimensions.
 
Tour the Temple Mount with Gila's MP3 audio tour in the company of David and Solomon, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus and the disciples, the angel Gabriel and Mohammed.  Meet many other luminaries, both real and legendary.  Listen on your smart phone!

Gila's Temple Mount tour is now also available as a written 24-page PDF with a Temple Mount plan, guidelines for passing the security check and ten recommended reads on the Temple Mount from Gila's bookshelves.

"Let's hide with David in the Cave of Adullam" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was "Let's ascend the cliff of the scapegoat."  This month's highlight is "Let's hear the call to Samuel at Shiloh."  The next highlight will be "Let's overlook the site of Jacob's wrestling match."
 
More on David's Life and Times:
 
David bought the threshing ground of Arunah

Absalom's Tomb

Bathing Beauty Bathsehba

David / Temple Mount

Absalom's Tomb Monument

 David and Bathsheba

 


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin