Cave men—in the Bible
Evolutionary stereotypes of the first humans as primitive “Stone Age” cave men who had not yet evolved agriculture just do not square with the Bible’s account of history. The Bible says that in Adam’s day, people “worked the soil” (Genesis 4:2—following the events of 2:15 and 3:17), forged bronze and iron tools (4:22) and made and played musical instruments (4:21). There never was a “Stone Age”!1 (Nor the evolutionary-defined “Bronze Age” or “Iron Age” for that matter.)
So what are we to make of the abundant evidence of human cave-dwellers in the past, such as caves with campfire ash, meal leftovers and charcoal etchings on cave walls?
Firstly, we can note that the caves we see in the world today are all post-Flood. In fact, their very existence—i.e. their formation and worldwide distribution—can really only be satisfactorily explained in terms of conditions generated by the global Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6–9).2
Secondly, we see that the Bible itself refers many times to people in caves (post-Noah and post-Babel). However, these are not the “cave men” of evolutionary stereotype. Rather, they are “fully human”—i.e. the descendants of Adam (and Noah)—who for one reason or another3 spent time in caves.
These included Sodom and Gomorrah’s only surviving refugees—Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30), the five Amorite kings hiding from Joshua (Joshua 10:16–18,22), and Samson in the cave at Etam (Judges 15:8).
When David left Gath he escaped to the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), and later he and his men were in the back of a cave at En Gedi when Saul entered (1 Samuel 24:1–4). Others who spent time in caves were Elijah (1 Kings 19:9,13), Obadiah’s one hundred prophets (whom he supplied with food and water—1 Kings 18:4,13), the ‘men of Israel’ when the Philistines were camped at Micmash (1 Samuel 13:6), and the Israelites at the time of Gideon (Judges 6:2).
These and the many other people in history who found it convenient to live in caves at various times4,5 (and even today—see photos) were not “primitive”, “prehistoric”, “Stone Age” sub-humans, or some such evolutionary stereotype. They were descendants of the first man and woman, created in the image of their Creator (Genesis 1:27), with an in-built capacity for intelligent thought, speech and creativity.
As an outlet for their creative urges, and a welcome distraction while holed up inside a cave, they could have whiled away the time drawing charcoal figures on the walls, or composing poetry. Two of the Psalms, for instance, were written by David when he was ‘in the cave’ (Psalms 57,142—see titles), a poignant record of his crying out to the Lord.
References and notes
- See also: Niemand, R., The Stone Age a figment of the imagination? Creation 27(4):13, 2005, <creation.com/stone>. Return to text.
- Silvestru, E., Caves for all seasons, Creation 25(3):44–49, 2003; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Also see Emil Silvestru’s DVD presentation: Geology and Cave Formation—A Post-Flood Story”. Return to text.
- In at least some cases the trigger might have been a traumatic event (e.g. displacement by war or natural disaster), with a concomitant loss of community expertise (e.g. knowledge of construction and agriculture). See: Catchpoole, D., The people that forgot time (and much else, too), Creation 30(3):34–37, 2008; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Return to text.
- Other references in the Bible include Jeremiah 49:8,30, Ezekiel 33:27 and Hebrews 11:38. Return to text.
- See e.g., Mizzi, J. and Matthews, M., The amazing cave people of Malta, Creation 26(1):40–43, 2003; <creation.com/malta>. Return to text.
Thank you very much for this well written article that puts many of the issues surrounding matters like climate change into a Biblically sound perspective. Much appreciated.
The article completely ignores the general impression people have of cave men; stone age beings with limited culture. Where do they fit in?
Hi Ben, That image of ancient people being primitive is a myth. Humans have been fully human from the beginning. See, for example Anthropology and apemen Q&A. That was the message of the article.
A couple of observations. Firstly it’s highly probable that The Lord Jesus was born in a cave as that is where animals were kept in & around Bethlehem at the time and archaeological evidence shows that families lived upstairs on a shelf & the animals lived downstairs; the heat of their bodies making the upstairs warmer in the winter. Secondly I lived in a house in Naples, Italy from 1962–64 and half our house was cut out of TUFA (volcanic rock) which is so easy to work when it is first exposed to the air that it can be cut with a saw or even a sharp knife! Our bathrooms, lavatories & storerooms were at the back of the house in the rock where they were cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Also small earthquakes are the norm in Naples so the rooms in the cliff suffered less damage from the tremors which happened several times a year. I suppose this qualifies me as being a caveman too!
I agree with what you say about “cave men” not preceding “civilized men”, however, some people must have regressed after the flood as there seems to be definite evidence of groups of people, some of whom lived in caves, who made use of stone tools and weapons and who’s “religious” paintings and artefacts adorn many caves around the world. Their culture would appear similar to those of primitive people living in South America.
Even in recent history didn’t Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prairie” fame live on at least 2 occasions in cave type dwellings?
Well written article on the non existence of evolutionary cavemen. It does not take rocket science to figure out evolution is a hoax. I see existence of creation everywhere including in the theory of evolution.
I was reading the Bible Book of Job and found some interesting references that may indicate cave men. Job 30:3–8 (especially verse 6)
It seems that these people were social outcasts, thieves, driven out to live in caves of the earth, holes in the earth. Job is seen by many as an early book possibly predating Moses writing of Genesis or at least contemporary.
Maybe Job 24:5–8 with people out in the rain huddling around the rocks for shelter could indicate people desperate enough to live in a cave. Job calls them, “sons of fools” and now these people are ridiculing him.
If anyone is caught out in the weather with no shelter, a cave could look rather attractive for a while.
Thanks, keep up the good work and great articles.
My father's uncle with his whole family & animals travelled every winter from their small village, Richea, located in Laconia, Greece, to live in a cave with their animals in the coastal town of Neapoli where the weather conditions were warmer.