1 Samuel 22:1
David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) The cave Adullam.—The great valley of Elah forms the highway from Philistia to Hebron. In one especially of the tributary vales or ravines of the Elah valley are many natural caves, some of great extent, roomy and dry, which are still used by the shepherds as dwelling-places, and as refuges for their flocks and herds. David chose one of these natural fastnesses as the temporary home for himself and his followers. The traveller sees that there was ample room for the 400 refugees who gathered under David’s skilled leadership. Stanley even speaks of this Adullam Cavern as “a subterranean palace, with vast columnar halls and arched chambers.”

The name Adullam was probably given to the largest of these great caverns from its proximity to the old royal Canaanitish city of Adullam (Joshua 15:35), ruins of which on a rounded hill to the south of the cave are still visible.

His brethren and all his father’s house.—They of course soon felt the weight of Saul’s anger against the prominent hero of their race, and dreading the fate which often overwhelms whole families for the faults of one of the more distinguished members, fled from their homes, and joined David and his armed force of outlaws.

1 Samuel 22:1. To the cave of Adullam — Which was a strong hold in the tribe of Judah, 1 Chronicles 11:15; Joshua 15:35. This place, fortified by nature, is so fitted for the security of persons in distress, according to Dr. Delaney, that it hath frequently given a refuge from the Turks to the Christians, who fled thither with their families, flocks, and herds. As it was in the tribe of Judah, and David belonged to that tribe, he might, perhaps, flee to it in hopes of finding some friends in those parts. And his brethren, &c., went down thither to him — Either to comfort him, or to secure themselves from the fury of Saul, who, they thought, might probably wreak upon them his hatred to David.22:1-5 See what weak instruments God sometimes uses, to bring about his own purposes. The Son of David is ready to receive distressed souls, who will be commanded by him. He receives all who come unto Him, however vile and miserable; he changes them into a holy people, and employs them in his service: those who would reign with him must be contented first to suffer with and for him. Observe with what tender concern David provided for his aged parents. The first thing he does is to find them a quiet habitation, whatever became of himself. Let children learn to honour their parents, in every thing consulting their ease and satisfaction. Though highly preferred, and much employed, let them not forget their aged parents. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And the Lord will preserve his people for their appointed work, however they may be hated and exposed.To the cave Adullam - Or rather "of Adullam." Adullam was the name of a town of Judah in the "Shephelah," not far from Bethlehem, and below it. Innumerable caverns, one nearly 100 feet long, are excavated in the soft limestone hills in the neighborhood of Beit-Jibrin. (The cave is placed by Ganneau and Conder on the hill (500 feet high) over 'Aid el Ma or Miyeh.) David's brethren and kinsmen joined him partly from sympathy with him, and partly because their own lives were in jeopardy front Saul's furious enmity. CHAPTER 22

1Sa 22:1-8. David's Kindred and Others Resort to Him at Adullam.

1. David … escaped to the cave Adullam—supposed to be that now called Deir-Dubban, a number of pits or underground vaults, some nearly square, and all about fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, in the soft limestone or chalky rocks. They are on the borders of the Philistine plain at the base of the Judea mountains, six miles southwest from Beth-lehem, and well adapted for concealing a number of refugees.

his brethren and all his father's house … went down—to escape the effects of Saul's rage, which seems to have extended to all David's family. From Beth-lehem to Deir-Dubban it is, indeed, a descent all the way. David cometh to Adullam, where companies resort to him, 1 Samuel 22:1,2. He goeth to Mizpeh, and commendeth his parents to the king of Moab, 1 Samuel 22:3,4. Admonished by Gad, he returneth to Judah: Saul pursueth him; complaineth of his servants’ unfaithfulness, 1 Samuel 22:5-8. Doeg accuseth Ahimelech: Saul sentenceth him, the high priest, and the rest of the priests, to die: Doeg slayeth eighty-five priests: the city Nob and all in it is laid waste; only Abiathar the priest remained alive fleeing to David, 1 Samuel 22:9-21. David acknowledgeth himself to be the cause hereof, 1 Samuel 22:22,23.

The cave Adullam; a place of considerable strength, 2 Samuel 23:13 1 Chronicles 11:15, in the land of Judah, Joshua 15:21,35, which being his own tribe, and the tribe to which God had first promised the kingdom, Genesis 49:10, he hoped for some protection and assistance there.

They went down thither to him; partly, to comfort and assist him; partly, to secure themselves at the present from Saul’s rage, which they knew to be fierce and cruel, and thought he might extend it to David’s friends; especially, because they had so lately entertained him, 1 Samuel 20:6,29; and partly, that they might share with David in his honour and advancement; which they now concluded certain and near, though it was interrupted with some difficulties.

David therefore departed from thence,.... From Gath, being driven by Achish from his court, and let go by his servants, and glad he was of the deliverance:

and escaped to the cave Adullam; which was no doubt near to a city of the same name in the tribe of Judah, of which See Gill on Joshua 15:35; this being a strong place, and in his own tribe, he might hope to be in greater safety; here he penned his hundred forty second psalm, see Psalm 142:1,

and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it; that he was come thither:

they went down thither to him; to visit and comfort him, counsel and assist him all they could; and chiefly to secure themselves from the rage and malice of Saul, who they might fear would fall upon them, and avenge himself on them for David's sake.

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave {a} Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.

(a) Which was in the tribe of Judah, near Bethlehem.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 1 Samuel 22:1-5. David’s band of Followers

1. the cave Adullam] Rather, the cave of Adullam. Adullam was an ancient royal city of the Canaanites, in the neighbourhood of Jarmuth, Socoh, Azekah, and Shaaraim, all places in or near the valley of Elah (Joshua 12:15; Joshua 15:35). In this valley, about 2½ miles S. of the point where it takes an abrupt turn to the west, some ruins have been discovered bearing the name Aid el Ma, which is thought to be a corruption of Adullam. They lie at the foot of a high rounded hill, almost isolated by subordinate valleys, and commanding a fine view over the main valley to the east. It forms a natural fortress, well adapted for the site of a city, which numerous ruins shew once stood there. The sides of the tributary valleys are lined with rows of caves, amply sufficient to accommodate David’s 400 men, and still used for habitations. See Conder’s Tent Work, II. 157 ff. The traditional identification of Adullam with the cave at Khureitun, five miles S.E. of Bethlehem, is quite untenable.

they went down thither to him] For fear lest Saul might wreak his vengeance upon them. In the East it was not uncommon for a whole family to be put to death for the fault of one member, and the massacre at Nob soon shewed them what they might expect.Verse 1. - The cave Adullam. According to Josephus this was situated near a city of the same name ('Ant.,' 6:12, 3), which formed one of a group of fifteen in the Shephelah (see on 1 Samuel 17:1), and its site has now been recovered by Mr. Conder (see 'Tent Work,' 2:156-160). "The great valley," he says, "of Elah, which forms the highway from Philistia to Hebron, runs down northwards past Keilah and Hareth, dividing the low hills of the Shephelah from the rocky mountains of Judah. Eight miles from the valley head stands Shochoh,... and two and a half miles south of this is a very large and ancient terebinth." This stands on "the west side of the vale, just where a small tributary ravine joins the main valley; and on the south of this ravine is a high rounded hill, almost isolated by valleys, and covered with ruins, a natural fortress," the site of the city Adullam. David's cave, he considers, would not be one of the larger caverns, as these are seldom used for habitations; but "the sides of the tributary valley are lined with rows of caves, and these we found inhabited, and full of flocks and herds; but still more interesting was the discovery of a separate cave on the hill itself, a low, smoke-blackened burrow, which was the home of a single family. We could not but suppose, as we entered this gloomy abode, that our feet were standing in the very footprints of the shepherd king, who here, encamped between the Philistines and the Jews, covered the line of advance on the cornfields of Keilah, and was but three miles distant from the thickets of Hareth." After describing the fine view from this hill, which is about 500 feet high, he adds, "There is ample room to have accommodated David's 400 men in the caves, and they are, as we have seen, still inhabited." Thus then David's cave was one of many in the Terebinth valley and the ravine opening into it, and was not far from Gath, though over the border. Here his brethren and all his father's house joined him through fear of Saul. Among these would be Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, his cousins; and we learn how great was the love and enthusiasm which David was able to inspire among them from the feat of the three heroes, of whom Abishai was one, who, while he was in the cave of Adullam, and a garrison of the Philistines at Bethlehem, broke through them to bring David water from the well there (2 Samuel 23:13-17). As Bethlehem was thus held by the Philistines, there was double reason for the flight of Jesse's family; and it is a proof how thoroughly Saul's government had broken down that, while Samuel could maintain a son at Beersheba as judge (1 Samuel 8:24 Saul was unable to defend places so much more distant from the Philistine border. David with Achish at Gath. - David fled from Nob to Achish of Gath. This Philistian king is called Abimelech in the heading of Psalm 34, according to the standing title of the Philistian princes at Gath. The fact that David fled at once out of the land, and that to the Philistines at Gath, may be accounted for from the great agitation into which he had been thrown by the information he had received from Jonathan concerning Saul's implacable hatred. As some years had passed since the defeat of Goliath, and the conqueror of Goliath was probably not personally known to many of the Philistines, he might hope that he should not be recognised in Gath, and that he might receive a welcome there with his few attendants, as a fugitive who had been driven away by Saul, the leading foe of the Philistines.

(Note: This removes the objection raised by modern critics to the historical credibility of the narrative before us, namely, that David would certainly not have taken refuge at once with the Philistines, but would only have gone to them in the utmost extremity (Thenius). It is impossible to see how the words "he fled that day for fear of Saul" (1 Samuel 21:11) are to prove that this section originally stood in a different connection, and are only arbitrarily inserted here (Thenius). Unless we tear away the words in the most arbitrary manner from the foregoing word ויּברח, they not only appear quite suitable, but even necessary, since David's journey to Abimelech was not a flight, or at all events it is not described as a flight in the text; and David's flight from Saul really began with his departure from Nob. Still less can the legendary origin of this account be inferred from the fact that some years afterwards David really did take refuge with Achish in the Philistian country (1 Samuel 27:1-12 and 1 Samuel 29:1-11), or the conjecture sustained that this is only a distorted legend of that occurrence. For if the later sojourn of David with Achish be a historical fact, that popular legend could not possibly have assumed a form so utterly different as the account before us, to say nothing of the fact that this occurrence has a firm historical support in Psalm 34:1.)

But in this he was mistaken. He was recognised at once by the courtiers of Achish. They said to their prince, "Is not this David the king of the land? Have they not sung in circles, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?" (cf. 1 Samuel 18:6-7). "King of the land" they call David, not because his anointing and divine election were known to them, but on account of his victorious deeds, which had thrown Saul entirely into the shade. Whether they intended by these words to celebrate David as a hero, or to point him out to their prince as a dangerous man, cannot be gathered from the words themselves, nor can the question be decided with certainty at all (cf. 1 Samuel 29:5).

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