1 Samuel 24:3
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.

Berean Study Bible
Soon Saul came to the sheepfolds along the road, where there was a cave, and he went in to relieve himself. And David and his men were hiding in the recesses 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.

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 recesses of the cave,

Contemporary English Version
There were some sheep pens along the side of the road, and one of them was built around the entrance to a cave. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself. David and his men were hiding at the back of the cave.

Good News Translation
He came to a cave close to some sheep pens by the road and went in to relieve himself. It happened to be the very cave in which David and his men were hiding far back in 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.

New Heart 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.

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.

JPS Tanakh 1917
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 sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.

New American Standard 1977
And 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.

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.
Study Bible HEB ▾ 
David Spares Saul
2So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to look for David and his men in the region of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3Soon Saul came to the sheepfolds along the road, where there was a cave, and he went in to relieve himself. And David and his men were hiding in the recesses of the cave. 4The men of David said to him, “This is the day about which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hands to do with him as you wish.’” Then David crept up secretly and cut off a corner of Saul's robe.…
Cross References
Judges 3:24
After Ehud was gone, Eglon's servants came in and found the doors of the upstairs room locked. "He must be relieving himself in the cool room," they said.

1 Samuel 26:3
Saul camped beside the road at the hill of Hachilah opposite Jeshimon, but David was living in the wilderness. When he realized that Saul had followed him there,

Psalm 57:1
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.

Psalm 142:1
I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift 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 …







Lexicon
Soon Saul came
וַ֠יָּבֹא (way·yā·ḇō)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 935: To come in, come, go in, go

to
אֶל־ (’el-)
Preposition
Strong's Hebrew 413: Near, with, among, to

the sheepfolds
הַצֹּ֤אן (haṣ·ṣōn)
Article | Noun - common singular
Strong's Hebrew 6629: Small cattle, sheep and goats, flock

along
עַל־ (‘al-)
Preposition
Strong's Hebrew 5921: Above, over, upon, against

the road,
הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ (had·de·reḵ)
Article | Noun - common singular
Strong's Hebrew 1870: A road, a course of life, mode of action

where there was
וְשָׁ֣ם (wə·šām)
Conjunctive waw | Adverb
Strong's Hebrew 8033: There, then, thither

a cave,
מְעָרָ֔ה (mə·‘ā·rāh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4631: A cavern

and he
שָׁא֖וּל (šā·’ūl)
Noun - proper - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7586: Saul -- first king of Israel, also an Edomite and two Israelites

went in
וַיָּבֹ֥א (way·yā·ḇō)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 935: To come in, come, go in, go

to relieve
לְהָסֵ֣ךְ (lə·hā·sêḵ)
Preposition-l | Verb - Hifil - Infinitive construct
Strong's Hebrew 5526: To entwine as a, screen, to fence in, cover over, protect

himself.
רַגְלָ֑יו (raḡ·lāw)
Noun - fdc | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7272: A foot, a step, the pudenda

And David
וְדָוִד֙ (wə·ḏā·wiḏ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - proper - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1732: David -- perhaps 'beloved one', a son of Jesse

and his men
וַאֲנָשָׁ֔יו (wa·’ă·nā·šāw)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine plural construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 376: A man as an individual, a male person

were hiding
יֹשְׁבִֽים׃ (yō·šə·ḇîm)
Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 3427: To sit down, to dwell, to remain, to settle, to marry

in the recesses
בְּיַרְכְּתֵ֥י (bə·yar·kə·ṯê)
Preposition-b | Noun - fdc
Strong's Hebrew 3411: Flank, side, extreme parts, recesses

of the cave.
הַמְּעָרָ֖ה (ham·mə·‘ā·rāh)
Article | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4631: A cavern
(3) The sheepcotes.--Thomson (The Land and the Book) saw, he says, hundreds of these sheepcotes around the mouth of the caves, of which there are so many in Palestine. In that land and among these Eastern peoples, whose customs change so little, they are as common now as they were then. "These sheepcotes are generally made by piling up loose stones in front of the cave's entrance in a circular wall, which is covered with thorns as a further protection against thieves and wild animals who would prey on the sheep. During cold storms and in the night the flocks retreat into the cave, but at other times they remain in the enclosed cote. . . . These caverns are as dark as midnight, and the keenest eye cannot see four paces inward; but one who has been long within, and 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 . . . but Saul could see nothing but impenetrable darkness."

From this thorny fence, so universal in the countless sheepcotes of Palestine, was very possibly derived a quaint simile in the strange passage on "Death" in the Talmud:--

"The hardest of all deaths is by a disease (some suppose quinsey), which is like the forcible extraction of prickly thorns from wool. . . . The easiest of all deaths is the Divine kiss, which is like the extracting of hair from milk. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam died by this Divine kiss."--Treatise Berachoth, fol. 8, col.1.

Where was a cave.--The well-known traveller Van de Velde wishes to identify the cave in question with an immense cavern in a rock with many side vaults, near the ruins of Chareitum; the difficulty is, however, that this vast cavern is fifteen or twenty miles from Ain-jedy. In this cave all David's band could well have been gathered: not only his 600 fighting men, but the camp followers and women also. In Pocock we read that the Arabs call this cavern Elmaama (hiding-place), and relate how on one occasion thirty thousand people hid themselves in it to escape an evil wind (the simoom). It is, however, quite possible that the incident about to be related, connected with Saul and David, took place in one of the much smaller caves close to En-gedi. It is not necessary to assume that all David's band were with him in one cave. A hundred or so of his more special companions were probably with him on this occasion, the remainder of the little army being dispersed in other similar refuges in the immediate neighbourhood.

And Saul went in to cover his feet.--The meaning of this disputed passage is quite simple. Saul, fatigued with the morning's march, some time about midday withdrew--probably with a very few attendants composing his personal staff--to take a short siesta, or sleep, in one of those dark, silent caves on the hill-side, which offered a cool resting-place after the glare and heat of a long and fatiguing march along the precipitous paths of the region. He lay down, no doubt, near the cave's mouth, and one of his faithful attendants threw lightly over the king's feet the royal many coloured mantle (m'il). The king and his attendants little suspected that in the dark recesses of their midday resting-place were concealed the dreaded freebooter and a great company of his devoted armed followers. As explained in the Note above, in these great rock recesses, coming from outside, from the glare of daylight, not five paces forward can be seen, but those already inside, and accustomed to the darkness, can, at a considerable distance within the cave, see distinctly all that takes place in the neighbourhood of the cavern mouth. The sharp eyes of David's sentinels, no doubt, far in the cave, quickly saw the little party of intruders. The tall form of the king, his jewelled armour, and perhaps his many-coloured brightly-tinted cloak, betrayed to the amazed watchmen of David the rank of the wearied sleeper.

This interpretation of the words. "Saul went in to cover his feet"--namely, "to sleep"--is adopted by the Peshito Syriac Version, Michaelis, and of late, very positively, Ewald. The ordinary interpretation of the words, besides being an unusual statement, by no means suits the narrative; for it must be remembered that considerable time was necessary for the sentinel to inform David, and for David to have approached and cut off the hem of the royal garment, and again to have retired into the recesses of the cave.

In the sides of the cave.--That is, in the side vaults and passages which exist in the largest of these natural refuges.

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. 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.
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OT History: 1 Samuel 24:3 He came to the sheep pens (1Sa iSam 1 Sam i sa) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
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