MemberFebruary 1, 2021 at 1:47 am
Bartlett observes: “The history of Edom shows a steady tendency to infiltrate into the land west of the Arabah.”1 Edelman notes that the Negev may well have been “essentially unincorporated territory open to any group interested in it.”2 Bienkowski insists that the Arabah Valley was not a barrier, either physical or political, to Edomite movement.3
1 Bartlett, John R. “The Land of Seir and the Brotherhood of Edom.” Journal of Theological Studies 20, no. 1 (1969): 1–20, p. 15
2 Edelman, Diana V. “Edom, a Historical Geography.” In <i style="font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;">You Shall Not Abhor an Edomite for He Is Your Brother: Edom and Seir in History and Tradition, edited by D. V. Edelman, 1–11. Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1995, p. 6
3 Bienkowski, Piotr. “The Wadi Arabah: Meanings in a Contested Landscape.” In <i style="font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;">Crossing the Rift: Resources, Routes, Settlement Patterns, and Interactions in the Wadi Arabah, edited by Piotr Bienkowski and Katharina Galor, 7–28. Levant Supplementary Series 3. Oxford: Oxbow, 2006, p. 22
- In the second year after the exodus, Israel attempted an invasion of Southern Canaan from Kadesh, but Amorites, Canaanites, and Amalekites defeated them “in Seir as far as Hormah” (Num 14:40-45; Deut 1:44). Hormah is on the western side of the Arabah, for it is here also where Israel defeated the king of Arad at the end of the forty years (Num 21:1-3). Seir seems to be west of the Arabah.
- In the fortieth year, Moses petitioned the King of Edom for passage through the Central Negev to the King’s Highway in the Transjordan, describing Kadesh as “a town on the edge of your territory” (Num 20:16 NIV). When the king denied access, Israel “turned away from him” (Num 20:21), took the Way of the Red Sea (Num 14:25; 21:4; Deut 1:40), and “skirted mount Seir [and Edom] for many days” (Deut 2:1-3; cf. Judg 11:18). Seir here also seems to be west of the Arabah.
- After Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, the southern extent of Israel is marked by Mount Halak “which rises toward Seir” (Josh 11:17; 12:7), the border running “along the side of Edom” (Num 34:3). Seir here also seems to be west of the Arabah.
These biblical data together indicate a region called ‘Seir’ to the south of Canaan, notwithstanding texts that locate Seir in the Southern Transjordan (Gen 14:5-7; Deut 2:4-5, 12). The conclusion must be that Seir comprises the mountainous regions on both sides of the Aravah, the Edomite Highlands to the east and the Central Negev Highlands to the west. As above, the Arabah Valley was not a barrier, either physical or political, to Edomite movement.