1 Samuel 24:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.

New Living Translation
At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

English Standard Version
And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.

New American Standard Bible
He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.

King James Bible
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When Saul came to the sheep pens along the road, a cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself. David and his men were staying in the back of the cave,

International Standard Version
He came to the sheepfolds beside the road. There was a cave there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.

NET Bible
He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
He came to some sheep pens along the road where there was a cave. Saul went into [it] to relieve himself while David and his men were sitting further back in the cave.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he came to a flock of sheep by the way where there was a cave, and Saul went in to cover his feet, and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

King James 2000 Bible
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself: and David and his men remained in the recesses of the cave.

American King James Version
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

American Standard Version
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And he came to the sheepcotes, which were in his way. And there was a cave, into which Saul went, to ease nature: now David and his men lay hid in the inner part of the cave.

Darby Bible Translation
And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet; and David and his men were abiding in the recesses of the cave.

English Revised Version
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he came to the sheep-cotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

World English Bible
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.

Young's Literal Translation
and he cometh in unto folds of the flock, on the way, and there is a cave, and Saul goeth in to cover his feet; and David and his men in the sides of the cave are abiding.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

24:1-7 God delivered Saul into David's hand. It was an opportunity given to David to exercise faith and patience. He had a promise of the kingdom, but no command to slay the king. He reasons strongly, both with himself and with his men, against doing Saul any hurt. Sin is a thing which it becomes us to startle at, and to resist temptations thereto. He not only would not do this bad thing himself, but he would not suffer those about him to do it. Thus he rendered good for evil, to him from whom he received evil for good; and was herein an example to all who are called Christians, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - He came to the sheepcotes. Rather, "to sheepcotes," there being no article in the Hebrew. Such sheepcotes were common in Palestine; for Thomson (p. 603) says, "I have seen hundreds of these sheepcotes around the mouth of caverns, and indeed there is scarcely a cave in the land, whose location will admit of being thus occupied (i.e. by the flocks), but has such a "cote" in front of it, generally made by piling up loose stones into a circular wall, which is covered with thorns, as a further protection against robbers and wild beasts. During cold storms, and in the night, the flocks retreat into the cave, but at other times they remain in this enclosed cote .... These caverns are as dark as midnight, and the keenest eye cannot see five paces inward; but one who has been long within, and is looking outward toward the entrance, can observe with perfect distinctness all that takes place in that direction. David, therefore, could watch Saul as he came in, and notice the exact place where he "covered his feet," while Saul could see nothing but "impenetrable darkness." To cover his feet. The Syriac understands this of sleeping; more correctly the Vulgate and Chaldee take it as in Judges 3:24, margin.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave,.... For the sheep to be led into at noon, to shelter them from the heat: such was the cave of Polyphemus, observed by Bochart (z), in which sheep and goats lay down and slept; See Gill on Zephaniah 2:6,

and Saul went in to cover his feet; the Targum is, to do his necessaries; and so Josephus (a); and the Jewish commentators generally understand it of easing nature; and as the eastern people used to wear long and loose garments, these, when they performed such an action, they used in modesty to gather them close about them, that no part of the body, their feet, and especially the parts of nature which should be concealed, might be seen; but the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, "and there he lay" or "slept"; which suggest, that his going into the cave was in order to take some sleep and rest, when it was usual to cover the feet, both to prevent taking cold, and the private parts of the body being exposed to view; and this accounts better for Saul not hearing David's men in the cave, and for his being insensible of David's cuttings off the skirt of his garment, and best agrees with the use of the phrase in Judges 3:24; the only place besides this in which it is used; See Gill on Judges 3:24,

and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave; unseen and unobserved by Saul, even six hundred of them; nor need this seem strange, since in those parts of the world there were caves exceeding large, made so either by nature or art. Vansleb (b) speaks of a cave in Egypt so extraordinary large, that, without hyperbole, a thousand horses might there draw up in battle array, and of another larger than that; and Strabo says (c), that towards Arabia and Iturea are mountains difficult to be passed, and in which are deep caves, one of which would hold four thousand men: and as the mouths of these caves were generally narrow, and the further parts of them large, and also dark, persons at the entrance of them could be seen, when those in the more remote parts could not; and this cave is said to be extremely dark (d); which accounts for Saul's being seen when he came into the cave, whereas David and his men could not be seen by him.

(z) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 45. col. 467, 468. (a) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 13. sect. 4. (b) Relation of a Voyage, p. 227. (c) Geograph. l. 16. p. 520. (d) Le Bruyn's Voyage to the Levant, ch. 51. p. 199.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. he came to the sheepcotes—most probably in the upper ridge of Wady Chareitun. There a large cave—I am quite disposed to say the cave—lies hardly five minutes to the east of the village ruin, on the south side of the wady. It is high upon the side of the calcareous rock, and it has undergone no change since David's time. The same narrow natural vaulting at the entrance; the same huge natural chamber in the rock, probably the place where Saul lay down to rest in the heat of the day; the same side vaults, too, where David and his men were concealed. There, accustomed to the obscurity of the cavern, they saw Saul enter, while, blinded by the glare of the light outside, he saw nothing of him whom he so bitterly persecuted.

1 Samuel 24:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
David Spares Saul
2Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. 4The men of David said to him, "Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'" Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly.…
Cross References
Judges 3:24
After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, "He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace."

1 Samuel 26:3
Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there,

Psalm 57:1
For the director of music. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave. Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

Psalm 142:1
A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
Treasury of Scripture

And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

the sheepcotes. Caves in the rocks, in which it is still common for shepherds and their flocks to lodge. Dr. Pococke observes, `Beyond the valley [of Tekoa,] there is a very large grotto. which the Arabs call El- Maamah, a hiding place: the high rocks on each side of the valley are almost perpendicular; and the way to the grotto is by a terrace formed in the rock, which is very narrow. There are two entrances into it; we went by the farthest, which leads by a narrow passage into a very large grotto, the rock being supported by natural pillars; the top of it rises in several places like domes; the grotto is perfectly dry. There is a tradition, that the people of the country, to the number of

Travels, vol. ii. P.

Psalm 141:6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear …

to cover

Judges 3:24 When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, …

David

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me: for my soul trusts in …

Psalm 142:1 I cried to the LORD with my voice; with my voice to the LORD did …

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