[b-hebrew] Kadesh-barnea

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Apr 8 18:01:23 EDT 2010

Hi James,

You're assuming quite a few things here. For one, you're assuming that you
know where the eastern boundary of Edom was. The fact is, that there is no
extra-biblical evidence for an Edomite kingdom until the 8th century, so
even assuming that such a kingdom existed earlier, the geography of Num. 20
could be anachronistic. In the late Iron Age, the 7-6 centuries, the
Edomites did expand into what is now called the Negev Highlands. 

Also notice that Num. 20-21 always refers to "Kadesh", never to
"Kadesh-Barnea". There are scholars who believe that "Kadesh" and
"Kadesh-Barnea" are two different places - one near Petra (this is also the
Rabbinic identification) and the other at Ein Qudeirat/Qadeis. I personally
don't accept this, but it is based exactly on what you are thinking.

You're also assuming that the Israelites would take the "logical" route
through the desert. But remember, according to the story they were led
around by God's cloud and pillar of fire, with no real aim but to "waste" 40
years, and with food and water delivered miraculously. So they did not
necessarily take the most logical route.

The accepted position of Kadesh also fits in very well with the southern
border of Canaan described in Num. 34:4 and repeated in Joshua 15:3. All in
all, I find it perfectly reasonable. But if you have another site in mind,
I'll be happy to have a look.

Yigal Levin

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of James Christian
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 12:38 AM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: [b-hebrew] Kadesh-barnea

Hi all,

just got back from a trip to Isreal and the Sinai peninsula. I've had
reservations before but now I'm more than ever convinced that I have real
problems with the identification of Kadesh-Barnea. It just doesn't seem to
make any sense whatsoever. Moses asks Edom permission to cross his land
along the King's Highway while at Kadesh-Barnea but modern identification of
Kadesh-Barnea is over a hundred km from it across the desert. It is also
very far from the red mountains we associate with Edom with yellow Negev on
all sides and yet from Kadesh-Barnea Moses told Edom that he was at his

If we postulate that Mount Sinai is Gebel Musa in the Sinai peninsula the
traditional route through the wadis as maintained by the local Bedouines
makes sense (it is the route that any pastor would normally take). Following
this route through the wadis we get a more or less v shape with a
straightish line down to Gebel Musa and a straightish line up to Eilat. From
here we are close to the King's Highway and not too far from the red
mountains of Edom.

Is there anything more than the connection to Arabic name Qadeis that could
give me any hint of confidence with the modern identification of

James Christian
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