MemberApril 20, 2021 at 1:30 am
I can paint you a simple word picture, Thomas, although a real picture (map) paints a thousand words. The modern Negev is the long triangular region that forms the southern half of Israel. It reaches all the way south to the Elath Gulf (Red Sea). Its eastern side (a more or less straight line from the Med Sea south of Gaza to the Red Sea a little south of Elath) is the Egypt-Israel border. Its western side (also more or less a straight line from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea at Elath) is the Israel-Jordan border that runs through the centre of the Arabah Valley.
The Negev is commonly referred to in three parts, northern, central, and southern.
The northern Negev comprises the Beersheba and Arad river basins which lie side by side (W-E) across the map from the Med Sea near Gaza to the southern Dead Sea. This area was known to the biblical authors as the Negeb (spelling used here to distinguish between modern and biblical regions). The Bible does not speak of the Negeb as reaching all the way to the Red Sea gulf.
The central Negev is a mountainous region, hence called the Negev Heights, or the Central Negev Highlands, or to the Israelis, Har ha-Negev (Mount Negev). It reaches W-E from Kadesh-barnea (just over the border in Sinai) to the northern Arabah. Lying through the heart of this mountainous region from WSW to ENE along the line of the watershed is a large crater, the Makhtesh Ramon (Great Crater). The Negev area north of the crater was probably known to the biblical authors as the Wilderness of Zin. Nahal (wadi) Zin drains the majority of this region to the northern Arabah.
The southern Negev is a large river basin, drained by Nahal (wadi) Paran which has its sources in the mountains to the west of Elath and runs more or less SSW-NNE to empty into the central Arabah. There is another basin in the southern Negev, called Nahal (wadi) Hayun, that lies between the Paran basin and the Arabah. It also runs SSW-NNE to empty into the Arabah about 20 km south of the Paran mouth. Both Paran and Hayun have many tributaries which only flow when it rains. The southern regions are technically semi-arid but we would still call them ‘desert” rather than ‘wilderness’. The Negev area south of the crater was probably known to the biblical authors as the Wilderness of Paran.
Har Karkom (formerly Jebel Ideid) is the *southernmost* peak of the Central Negev Highlands. So it is on the interface between the central and southern Negev. It overlooks the Paran basin to the south and east (hence “Mount Paran”, Deut 33:2). If coming from the south, it is the first promontory of the mountain range that runs S-N through Israel. Mount Zion (Jerusalem) is about halfway along this mountain range, while Mount Hermon is the last peak in this range northward as far as Israelite territory goes. The mountain range was once called the “Hill Country of the Amorites” but then (after the conquest) became known as the “Mountains of Israel”. It was the heartland of Amorite, and then Israelite, settlement.