Caves of the Hebrew Bible: A Speleology

In: Biblical Interpretation
Rhiannon Graybill Rhodes College, USA

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Peter J. Sabo University of Alberta, Canada

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This paper engages the five cave narratives of the Hebrew Bible: Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19), the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23), Joshua and the five Amorite Kings (Joshua 10), Saul and David’s cave encounter (1 Samuel 24), and Elijah’s theophany at Horeb (1 Kings 19). Biblical caves are significant and symbolic places. Frequently, the cave is associated with concealment, providing a hiding place for people and taboo practices and things. The cave is also a space of resistance, both within the text and as part of a larger critique of futurity. Biblical caves are likewise significant to the analysis of gender. While the caves of Genesis simultaneously imitate and displace the female body, other biblical caves are wholly masculine spaces, acting as both shelters and prisons for men. Attending to the caves thus yields insight to questions of gender, futurity, and the function of space in literary reading.

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