Oct 13, 2021
Before David became king over Israel, he was a man on the run.
Saul, the reigning king had been told God was going to remove him from the throne because of his disobedience and casual attitude toward God's word. The prophet Samuel told him, "Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can't be king." (1Sa 15:23)
Saul said he had sinned. "I disobeyed both you and the LORD. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead." (1Sa 15:24)
God is always willing to forgive, but Saul's repentance didn't last. He was a man used to making his own decisions. One of them was to pursue David and kill him. God had chosen David to replace Saul. Saul became increasingly unhinged, even attempting to kill his own son and abuse his own army. Meanwhile, David had become popular with many Israelites. At least those not loyal to Saul. There were a few who were blind to Saul's madness and to his rebellion toward God.
David escaped Saul, barely at times, by moving from town to town, fighting Philistines and rescuing Israelites as he went. Many men left their homes to join David, a bit like Robin Hood's men, except David's Mighty Men weren't robbing; they were rescuing Israel from invaders who sought to get rid of them. At one point, he fled to Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea.
One might read the books of Samuel and think David's adventures are too fantastic to be believed. But a discovery at Ein Gedi reveals this area was used by others more ancient with an intention to hide.
In 1961, archaeologist Pessah Bar-Adon discovered the most diverse and oldest stash of copper treasure and weapons in a cave south of Ein Gedi. The cave has been named the Cave of the Treasure. The items found there date to 3500 BC and could be older. This area is rough country. It is hot. But according to the Jewish Virtual Library, people may have lived there while grazing their flocks in the spring. These people were not ancient Hebrews, however.
There is a lot we have learned from the discovery. The first being people knew how to use elements like copper, mix it with arsenic so it hardens and skillfully form it into objects adorned with shaped animals, spiral turned handles or engravings. And– people knew how to do this much earlier than previously thought. Many of these objects were weapons wrapped in straw matting and dumped quickly into a deep crevice far into the cave. The pictures of over 200 mace heads is a bit chilling because it conjures up images in my mind of the brutal hand to hand combat of the ancients.
The original people living nearby could access this remote cave located near a cliff by a narrow path. But Bar-Adon's team had to dangle from a rope lowered over the cliff because the pathway had fallen away. The cave was abandoned by the time of David, and it was only occupied one more time during the Bar Kokhba's Revolt against Rome in AD 132-135.
Could David and his men have walked the ancient narrow path and visited this cave? Maybe. Also hidden in the stash with the weapons were crowns some scholars have dated to 6000 BC.
None of these, however, would be the crown David wore in the ceremony Israel held to make him their king. These crowns and weapons belonged to other soldiers who used these caves and were long dead by the time David roamed Ein Gedi. Those soldiers were not Hebrews. They may be surrounded in mystery for us today, but David wrote his story so we would know it and join him in praise of the God who hid him until the storm passed. You can read more about the Cave of the Treasure here and here.
In times of trouble, LORD, you will protect me. You will hide me in your tent and keep me safe on top of a mighty rock. (Psalm 27:5 CEV)
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