[b-hebrew] Kadesh-barnea

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Fri Apr 9 04:46:14 EDT 2010


thanks for the food for thought. Some observations I would make are the

1) The wandering in the desert only started after the judgement in Num 14:34
after the multitude did not express faith in Yhwh's ability to conquer the
Canaanite nation for them after the report of the 12 spies. Until this point
the journey was purposeful with destination of Canaan from Egypt via Mount

2) According to Num 13:26 the spies, after spying the land, returned to
Moses and the assembly at Kadesh in the Paran desert/wilderness. And so by
logical conclusion they had already arrived at Kadesh as part of their
purposeful route to Canaan. Their almost uneventful journey through
practically uninhabited lands terminates at the border of very much
inhabited (with an equipped army) Edom at some place that seems to be close
to the King's Highway. This may fit well with the end of Nahal Paran.

3) Num 13:22 tells us that the spies, having set out from Paran
desert/wilderness went up through the Negev to Hebron after spying out from
the Zin desert as far as Rehob. Maybe this could give us further clues.
Seems to suggest a vast desert (as opposed to mountainous wadi divided
wilderness) north of Kadesh and south of Hebron.

4) After Moses gets refused use of the King's Highway through Edom they make
their way to Mount Hor which we identify in modern day Jordan over the other
side of the Red mountains we identify with Edom Num 20:22. Num 21:4 makes
mention of the use of the way of the Red Sea as the route to go around the
land of Edom. Travelling up they come past a wilderness near Moab until they
finally get to the Arnon before kicking off with the Amorites. The whole
account seems to suggest that Moses wanted to take the direct and least
hazardous route up the natural road that rests between Eilat and the dead
sea. This route goes through Edom but Edom wasn't willing. Hopping over the
mountains there is another parallel northward route but you have to go
through hostile Amorite territory and then over the Jordan to get into
Canaan. I think we agree that on the approximate geography of this alternate

Considering these things it would seem logical to me for there to either be
a different Kadesh or that the identification of Kadesh-Barnea to be in
error. Looking at Num 34:3-5 concluding that modern day Kadesh-Barnea is a
good identification would seem to depend on you identification of the Zin
desert, the ascent of Akrabbim, Hazar-addar, Azmon and the torrent valley of
Egypt. With which modern places do you identify these boundary points?

James Christian

2010/4/8 Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>

> 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
> borders.
> 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
> Kadesh-Barnea?
> James Christian
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