Wilderness of Zin (MattfeldProposal)
mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com
Thu Nov 8 12:49:05 EST 2001
There have been several proposals for the Wilderness of Zin and
Kadesh-Barnea. Two hundred years ago it was thought that Petra on the east
side of the Arabah was Kadesh. This notion is preserved in Josephus (1st
century CE) and noted in Eusebius (4th century CE) and others. Zin would
then be either in the eastern edge of the Arabah or the lower slopes of
Petra and area.
Mainstream scholarship today favors either Ain Kadeis/Qadeis in the lower
Negev or Ain el Kudeirat/Qudeirat. The latter has a more copious spring,
thus it is currently more popular.
The Edomite border that Kadesh is said to lie in, is understood to be the
Negev. Archaeology has revealed that Edom arose as a mighty urbanized nation
about the end of the 8th century BCE and by the 7th and 6th her pottery is
found in the Negev suggesting she was successfully wresting the area from
I note that endings date histories. The Primary History, Genesis-2 Kings
ends ca. 562-560 BCE in the reign of Evil-Marduk King of Babylon (2 Kings
25:27). I suspect that the writer was describing the "present realities of
562-560 BCE" when he described Kadesh as being in Edom's border. In other
words with the fall of Judah to the Babyloinians in 587 BCE, Edom had seized
all lands south of the Dead Sea to Kadesh and the Wilderness of Zin.
I understand the Edomite border beginning at the ascent of Akrabbim as
alluding to the steep ascent up Kanaan Sefir, to the west of Arad and the
lower bay of the Dead Sea. The Romans later built a road over this ascent.
The name is preserved in a site on this ascent called Rugm el Kharrubeh. I
then understand that the border ends at the wilderness of Zin, to the south
of and including Kadesh-Barnea.
I favor Ain Kadeis/Qadeis to be Kadesh rather than Ain el Qudeirat. Aharoni
found a casemate Israelite fortress overlooking Ain Kadeis, of about the
same era as that at Ain Qudeirat (late 10th century BCE).
I understand Edom's border in the south to end at Ain Kadeis (Kadesh). This
Iron Age fortress is on the high escarpment overlooking the spring of Ain
Kadeis in the drainage basin of Wadi el Arish below (Wadi el Gayifi).
According to Aharoni it commands a view of the south to act against surpise
attack against Israel. One can see Ain el Quderiat, Quseima (Azmon) as well.
I understand, and this is unique to me -I know of no others having made
this identification- that the Wilderness of Zin is referring to the great
drainage basin of Wadi El Arish, which drains the whole of the Et-Tih
plateau SouthWest of Qusaima-Kadeis (Azmon-Kadesh [ note the Targum renders
Azmon as Qesam/Kesam]).
I note that the major track going southwest from Qusaima/Azmon, is heading
for Egypt and its first stop after leaving Israelite territory is the well
called Bir el Hasana, which I suspect is "ZIN" rendered in Hebrew as SINA
(diacritical dot under the S, rendered in the LXX and Latin Vulgate as SENA
Thus I understand that the track from Israel's southernmost border, Ain
Kadeis-Qusaima is heading on for Hasana and eventually Egypt. That portion
of the drainage basin of Wadi el Arish abutting the southern border of Edom
(formerly Judah's southern border) below the high escarpment slopes of the
Iron Age fortress guarding Ain Kadeis, is the Wilderness of Zin/Sina, named
after the main track heading to Egypt from Qusaima via Bir Hasana.
So, there you have it, my proposal for the location of the Wilderness of
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
Walldorf by Heidelberg
More information about the b-hebrew