And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where [was] a
&c.] For the sheep to be led into at noon, to shelter them from the heat: such was the cave of Polyphemus, observed by Bochart F26, in which sheep and goats lay down and slept; (See Gill on Zephaniah 2:6);
and Saul went in to cover his feet;
the Targum is, to do his necessaries; and so Josephus F1; and the Jewish commentators generally understand it of easing nature; and as the eastern people used to wear long and loose garments, these, when they performed such an action, they used in modesty to gather them close about them, that no part of the body, their feet, and especially the parts of nature which should be concealed, might be seen; but the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, "and there he lay" or "slept"; which suggest, that his going into the cave was in order to take some sleep and rest, when it was usual to cover the feet, both to prevent taking cold, and the private parts of the body being exposed to view; and this accounts better for Saul not hearing David's men in the cave, and for his being insensible of David's cuttings off the skirt of his garment, and best agrees with the use of the phrase in ( Judges 3:24 ) ; the only place besides this in which it is used; (See Gill on Judges 3:24);
and David and his men remained in the sides of the
unseen and unobserved by Saul, even six hundred of them; nor need this seem strange, since in those parts of the world there were caves exceeding large, made so either by nature or art. Vansleb F2 speaks of a cave in Egypt so extraordinary large, that, without hyperbole, a thousand horses might there draw up in battle array, and of another larger than that; and Strabo says F3, that towards Arabia and Iturea are mountains difficult to be passed, and in which are deep caves, one of which would hold four thousand men: and as the mouths of these caves were generally narrow, and the further parts of them large, and also dark, persons at the entrance of them could be seen, when those in the more remote parts could not; and this cave is said to be extremely dark F4; which accounts for Saul's being seen when he came into the cave, whereas David and his men could not be seen by him.
F26 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 45. col. 467, 468.
F1 Antiqu. l. 6. c. 13. sect. 4.
F2 Relation of a Voyage, p. 227.
F3 Geograph. l. 16. p. 520.
F4 Le Bruyn's Voyage to the Levant, ch. 51. p. 199.