ADULLAM, a Canaanitish town in the territory of the tribe of Judah, perhaps the modern Aid-el-Ma, 7 m. N.E. of Beit-Jibrin. It was in the stronghold ("cave" is a scribal error) of this town that David took refuge on two occasions (1 Sam. xxii. 1; 2 Sam. v. 17). The tradition that Adullam is in the great cave of Rhareitun (St Chariton) is probably due to the crusaders. From the description of Adullam as the resort of "every one that was in distress," or "in debt," or "discontented," it has often been humorously alluded to, notably by Sir Walter Scott, who puts the expression into the mouth of the Baron of Bradwardine in Waverley, chap. lvii., and also of Balfour of Burley in Old Mortality. In modern political history the expression "cave of Adullam" (hence "Adullamites") came into common use (being first employed in a speech by John Bright on the 13th of March 1866) with regard to the independent attitude of Robert Howe (Lord Sherbrooke), Edward Horsman and their Liberal supporters in opposition to the Reform Bill of 1866. But others had previously used it in a similar connexion, e.g. President Lincoln in his second electoral campaign (1864), and the Tories in allusion to the Whig remnant who joined C. J. Fox in his temporary secession. From the same usage is derived the shorter political term "cave" for any body of men who secede from their party on some special subject.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)