MemberApril 9, 2022 at 7:15 am
Hi Todd. I have 20 articles of Ben Gad HaCohen’s in my collection. He does what most historical geographers do when the going gets tough while trying to identify a biblical site:
1. appeal to possible multiple sources (textual solution)
2. appeal to possible multiple sites (geographical solution)
Biblical data associate Kadesh once with the Wilderness of Paran in Num 13:26 but with the Wilderness of Zin in all other references. Believing that no biblical site can be in two wildernesses, Ben Gad HaCohen tries to find an explanation. He recognises that multiple textual sources are not plausible because the terminology is not distinct between the so-called “P” [Priestly] and “J” [Yahwist] sources.
Instead, he claims that Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin is a different place to Kadesh-barnea in the Wilderness of Paran. But then he has to explain how the *only* occurrence of Kadesh with the Wilderness of Paran (Num 13:26) is “Kadesh” NOT “Kadesh-barnea”! Awkward. So he makes an unlikely case (a ‘grammatical’ one) that the directional ‘heh’ (ה) suffix on Kadesh (i.e. קדשׁה kadeshah) in Num 13:26 stands in for ‘Barnea’.
He also cites Ramban, a Spanish medieval rabbi, in support of Kadesh-barnea at Ein Qudeirat in the NE Sinai when this site was not suggested as a possible ID until the late 19th century. Ramban proposes that there may be two sites for Kadesh for the same reason that Ben Gad HaCohen does. So BGHaCohen’s paragraph about Ramban is not very clearly written.
BGHaCohen also makes some unproven claims such as:
“… the Wilderness of Zin is on the Edomite border in the Transjordan, somewhere between Ezion-geber (near modern day Eilat) and Mount Hor.”, and
“… the toponym “Kadesh” (as opposed to Kadesh-barnea) elsewhere <em style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>always refers to Petra in the Transjordan.”
If this is true, why did the professional geographers of the modern state of Israel rename Wadi Murrah/Fiqra in the Central Negev Highlands as Nahal Zin? The Zin River is the foundation of the Wilderness of Zin as may be readily demonstrated from a comparison of all instances of ‘Zin’ in the OT. So their conclusion is well-supported and accepted. BGHaCohen should make a thorough case for the Wilderness of Zin in the Transjordan, but he has claimed what he wishes to prove.
I have to say I am very surprised that BGHaCohen gets away with this brand of historical geography in a popular Jewish blog like The Torah. Maybe the kinds of scholars and public who read this blog don’t know much about biblical geography?! Or rather, many of the articles tend toward textual criticism, so this approach may fit right in.
There is a consistent geographical solution to the apparent “Kadesh in Paran” and “Kadesh in Zin” contradiction, one that does not appeal to any source- or redaction criticism, nor to any strange grammatical criticism. It is ^^ in this thread. There is also a narrated PPT video on my Academia profile that explains the solution with maps: