(A·dulʹlam) [retreat, refuge].
A city of Judah in the fertile lowland or Shephelah, about halfway between Bethlehem and Lachish. (Josh. 15:35) It is identified with Tell esh-Sheikh Madhkur, about nine miles (14.5 kilometers) N-NE of modern Beit Jibrin (Eleutheropolis). The original name seems to be preserved in the name of the nearby ruins of ʽAid el-Miyeh. The site of Adullam dominates the Wadi (torrent valley) es-Sur and the approach from that part of the Shephelah into the interior of Judah, thus making it a strategic location. It is primarily known for the “cave of Adullam,” where David fled before King Saul. There are numerous limestone caves in this area.
Adullam was evidently an ancient city. Its first Biblical mention is in connection with Hirah “the Adullamite,” who became a companion of Judah prior to the transfer of Jacob’s family to Egypt. (Gen. 38:1, 2, 12, 20) At the time of Joshua’s invasion some three centuries later, Adullam was one of the thirty-one petty kingdoms that were vanquished by him. (Josh. 11:1-15; 12:15) Adullam was thereafter allotted to Judah along with other cities or the Shephelah.—Josh. 15:33-35.
David, as a fugitive from King Saul, escaped from the Philistine king Achish of Gath and went up to Adullam to a cave, where he was eventually joined by some 400 men. (1 Sam. 22:1-5) Some thirteen miles (21 kilometers) SW of Bethlehem, the area may have been known to David from his shepherd days. Its relative inaccessibility appears to have recommended it as David’s stronghold. In later times, in his kingdom David used it as an operational site in wars against the Philistines. It was from this point that the three warriors made their sortie into Bethlehem to obtain the cistern water that David later refused to drink as representing their blood risked to obtain it.—1 Chron. 11:15-19; 12:16; 2 Sam. 5:17, 18.
Adullam was one of the chain of fifteen fortress cities reinforced by Rehoboam of Judah. (2 Chron. 11:5-12) This chain, intended to provide protection from the W and S, was overrun by Sennacherib’s troops during Hezekiah’s rule (732/731 B.C.E.). (2 Ki. 18:13) Adullam is mentioned in the days of Nehemiah as among the cities resettled by the repatriated Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile.—Neh. 11:30.