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Home Forums Location of Mount Sinai The distance from Kadesh Barnea Reply To: The distance from Kadesh Barnea

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 31, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Another point regards the location of Kadesh in “the hill country of the Amorites”.

    Deu 1:19-25 NRSV  Then, just as the LORD our God had ordered us, we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrible wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, until we reached Kadesh-barnea.  (20)  I said to you, "You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us.  (21)  See, the LORD your God has given the land to you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you; do not fear or be dismayed."  (22)  All of you came to me and said, "Let us send men ahead of us to explore the land for us and bring back a report to us regarding the route by which we should go up and the cities we will come to."  (23)  The plan seemed good to me, and I selected twelve of you, one from each tribe.  (24)  They set out and went up into the hill country, and when they reached the Valley of Eshcol they spied it out  (25)  and gathered some of the land's produce, which they brought down to us. They brought back a report to us, and said, "It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us." (cf. v. 7)

    Kadesh at Ayn Qudayrat is at the western edge of the Central Negev Highlands. These highlands are the southern extension of the range of mountains that forms the ‘spine’ of the land of Israel. As such, they are here designated as “the hill country of the Amorites” even though no Amorites or Canaanites lived so far south. Arad, in fact, was the southernmost Canaanite city at the time and that is in the Northern Negev (the biblical Negeb). The Arad and Beersheba basins almost separate the hill country of Canaan in the north from the hill country of the Central Negev in the south. It is still all one range, however. But if Kadesh is at Petra, it is up on the Edomite plateau, much higher than the ‘hill country’ of Canaan. There is no sense in which the 12 spies could be said to “go up”. They would have had to enter and cross the Arabah first, which near the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth.

    Note also that from Kadesh, the spies went through the Wilderness of Zin before they got to Canaan:

    Num 13:21-22 NRSV  So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath.  (22)  They went up into the Negeb, and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the Anakites, were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)

    This is describing a route from Kadesh at the edge of the Wilderness of Zin northward through the biblical Negeb (the Beersheba Valley) to Hebron in the hill country of Canaan and thence along the full length of the mountain range to Lebanon. There is no indication of a journey from Petra down into the Arabah. These issues were all debated and settled over 100 yrs ago to the satisfaction of all but a few Saudi Sinai proponents who realise they have a problem with the location of Kadesh and seek to relocate it in the Transjordan.