International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(ma`on, me`onah, "habitation"; me`arah, and spelaion, "cave"; me'urah (Isaiah 11:8), "a light-hole," from 'or, "light," perhaps for me`arah; cokh (Psalm 10:9 the King James Version), and cukkah (Job 38:40), "a covert," elsewhere "booth"; 'erebh (Job 37:8), "covert," as in the Revised Version (British and American); gobh; compare Arabic jubb, "pit" (Daniel 6:7); minharoth, "fissure" or "cleft" (Judges 6:2)): In the limestone mountains of Palestine caves, large and small, are abundant, the calcium carbonate, of which the rock is mainly composed, being dissolved by the water as it trickles over them or through their crevices. Even on the plains, by a similar process, pits or "lime sinks" are formed, which are sometimes used by the Arabs for storing straw or grain. Of this sort may have been the pit, bor, into which Joseph was cast by his brethren (Genesis 37:20). Caves and crevices and sometimes spaces among piled-up boulders at the foot of a cliff or in a stream bed are used as dens by jackals, wolves and other wild animals. Even the people, for longer or shorter periods, have lived as troglodytes. Compare Judges 6:2: "Because of Midian the children of Israel made them the dens (minharoth) which are in the mountains, and the caves (me`arah), and the strongholds (metsadh)." The precipitous sides of the valleys contain many caves converted by a little labor into human habitations. Notable instances are the valley of the Kidron near Mar-Saba, and Wadi-ul-Chamam near the Sea of Tiberias. See CAVE.