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go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again. Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face.”'

Having passed eastwards of Tekû'a, we descended a shallow wady for about a mile to some curious old buildings which overhang the tremendous gorge of Wady Ŭrtâs, there called Wady Khůreitûn, and which gives its name to the ruins. Leaving our horses in charge of some Arabs, and taking one for a guide, we started for the cave now known as Mughâret Khůreitûn, having a fearful gorge below, gigantic cliffs above, and the path winding along a narrow shelf of the rock. At length, from a great rock hanging on the edge of the shelf, we entered by a long leap a low window which opened into the perpendicular face of the cliff. We were then within the traditional hold of David, and, creeping half doubled through a narrow crevice for a few rods, we stood beneath the dark vault of the first grand chamber of this mysterious and oppressive cavern.' Our whole collection of lights did little more than make the damp darkness visible. After groping about as long as we had time to spare, we returned to the light of day, fully convinced that, with David and his lion-hearted followers inside, all the strength of Israel under Saul could not have forced an entrancewould not have even attempted it.

Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake, of the Palestine Exploration Fund, made a careful survey of this remarkable cave. He says: “Half-way down the rugged path we turned off along a ledge of rock some eight feet wide to the cavern. A huge fallen block, about seven feet high, has to be surmounted; between this and the upper rock is a space of two and a half feet. Continuing along the ledge we come to another fallen block, and mounting this we are confronted by the door of the cave. The entrance to the cave seems the only part which has been touched by the hand of man. Several short intersecting passages would place an invader who had succeeded in penetrating so far entirely at the mercy of the defenders.

“A few feet from the entrance we came into a large chamber some sixty feet long, and perhaps thirty or forty feet high. A low burrow, which has to be traversed on hands and knees, leads from this to another chamber; mounting a few feet, a narrow cleft leads 2 Sam. xiv. 21, 24.

i Sam. xxii. 1, 2; 2 Sam. xxiii. 13-17.





to another large chamber, to reach which one has to descend a steep slide some fourteen feet high. From this chamber a main passage, with intricate ramifications, which can only be understood by the plan, leads to the last chamber, beyond which nothing extends but a narrow winding passage, which, in no place large, at last contracts to a mere crack. The greatest length of the cavern is five hundred and fifty feet.

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" The air of the cave was dry and pure, though earth washed down from above shows that water penetrates it in the winter. The first chamber, however, would probably always continue dry. The whole cave seems formed by water action; the sides and roof are smooth, with frequent rounded hollows; and in more than one place passages run side by side, with merely a thin strata of rock

In one

separating them. The rock is hard and very white. We found bats in some of the chambers, but not in great numbers. of the side - passages I picked up fragments of a brass or copper fibula much corroded; this and a piece of very ancient coarse pottery were the only relics we found.”

This description of the first scientific survey that I have seen is very satisfactory; and Mr. Drake, while withholding judgment as to the identity of the site, says that the cave of Wady Khůreitûn is admirably adapted for the stronghold of an outlaw. He also mentions another fact of the utmost importance to those who occupied the cave. Above the cave, “ to the right, a steep, rugged zigzag descends to a broad ledge of rock leading to 'Ain en Natúf-the Dripping Spring—where, even at this dry season [October 25th], there was a sufficient supply of water to fill a wine-bottle in three or four minutes. The water is collected in two little rock-hewn basins. Two other openings besides the door [of the cave] fully command the path to 'Ain en Natúf, which, consequently, could not be used by an attacking party; while, owing to the overhanging rocks, a besieged party might draw water with impunity, as the wady is too broad for archers to be able to harass them to any considerable extent.”

I see no good reason, therefore, to disturb the tradition which makes this the hold into which David retired with his father's house when he fled from Gath, and in which he first collected and organized his band of trusty followers. David, as a shepherd leading his flocks over these hills, was doubtless acquainted from his boyhood with all the intricacies of this great cavern, just as these Arab shepherds, his successors, now are; and what more natural, therefore, than that he should flee thither in the day of his extremity? It was out in the wild desert, far from the haunts of Saul, and not likely to be visited by him. It was also in the line of direct communication with Moab, whither he sent his parents and the women of his train, while he abode still in the hold. Again, we know that many of his subsequent exploits and escapes from Saul were in this region and south of it; and, finally, there is a sort of verbal accuracy in speaking of the topography-David's family are said

Ti Sam. xxii. 3, 4.




to have gone down to him from Bethlehem. Now this cavern is two hours to the south-east of that village, and the path descends rapidly nearly the entire distance. It must be admitted, however, that the geographical indications in the two accounts of David's retreat to the cave of Adullam, in 1 Samuel xxii. 1-4, and 2 Samuel xxiii. 13-16, are not very distinct, but the latter notice seems to imply that it was at no great distance from Bethlehem; and from the first we learn that David took his father and mother to Moab, from the cave—an operation more natural and less dangerous than it would have been from any part of the plain of Philistia, where the city of Adullam was undoubtedly situated, as appears from Joshua xv. 35, 2 Chronicles xi. 7, 8, Nehemiah xi. 30, Micah i. 14, 15, in all of which the city of Adullam is associated with towns in Philistia. The same is implied in the account of the fight of Judas with Gorgias, as given in the twelfth chapter of 2 Maccabees. From all these statements, it seems nearly certain that the cave and the city were entirely different places, the latter being in the Shephelah, and not far from Gath and Mareshah, while the cave was on the mountains, and southwards from Bethlehem, on the way to Moab.

Leaving the cave, and escaping from the importunity of the Bedawîn encamped at the ruins of Khůreitûn, we returned along a shallow valley for a mile or more, and then descended by a very rocky path into Wady Úrtâs, and passed northwards round the western base of Jebel el Fureidîs. This is an enormous mount, about four hundred feet high, mostly natural, I suppose, but truncated, steep, and round, and rises precisely like the cone of a volcano.

At one time I came to Jebel el Fureidîs from Bethlehem, a ride of two hours over a rocky and slippery path. From its remarkable resemblance to a crater, I was led to search carefully for indications of volcanic origin, but could find none. The chalky marl rock changes into an intensely hard dark-colored limestone, abounding in chert, splintered and broken up in an extraordinary manner. The vineyards south-east of Bethlehem have all been laid waste by the Bedawîn, and the ruined watch-towers and neglected terraces indicate that the devastation of these spoilers, worse than that of the locusts, has been wrought in times comparatively modern.

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It has been suggested that this mount marks the site of Bethhaccerem, mentioned in Nehemiah iii. 14, where “ Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Beth-haccerem," is said to have repaired one of the gates of Jerusalem ; and also in Jeremiah vi. 1, where the people were exhorted to " set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.” As Beth - haccerem is associated with Tekoa, it was most probably somewhere in this neighborhood; and Jebel el Fureidis is admirably adapted for a beacon of fire, to give warning of evil approaching from any direction. There is no other tell of equal height and size in Palestine.

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