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Bible Dictionaries

Easton's Bible Dictionary


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  • Heb. midhbar, denoting not a barren desert but a district or region suitable for pasturing sheep and cattle (Psalm 65:12; Isaiah 42:11; Jeremiah 23:10; Joel 1:19; 2:22 ); an uncultivated place. This word is used of the wilderness of Beersheba (Genesis 21:14 ), on the southern border of Palestine; the wilderness of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:18 ); of Shur (15:22), a portion of the Sinaitic peninsula; of Sin (17:1), Sinai (Leviticus 7:38 ), Moab (Deuteronomy 2:8 ), Judah (Judges 1:16 ), Ziph, Maon, En-gedi (1 Samuel 23:14,24; 24:1 ), Jeruel and Tekoa (2 Chronicles 20:16,20 ), Kadesh (Psalm 29:8 ).

    "The wilderness of the sea" (Isaiah 21:1 ). Principal Douglas, referring to this expression, says: "A mysterious name, which must be meant to describe Babylon (see especially ver. 9), perhaps because it became the place of discipline to God's people, as the wilderness of the Red Sea had been (Compare Ezekiel 20:35 ). Otherwise it is in contrast with the symbolic title in Isaiah 22:1 . Jerusalem is the "valley of vision," rich in spiritual husbandry; whereas Babylon, the rival centre of influence, is spiritually barren and as restless as the sea (comp 57:20)." A Short Analysis of the O.T.

  • Jeshimon, a desert waste (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 68:7 ).

  • 'Arabah, the name given to the valley from the Dead Sea to the eastern branch of the Red Sea. In Deuteronomy 1:1; 2:8 , it is rendered "plain" (RSV, "Arabah").

  • Tziyyah, a "dry place" (Psalm 78:17; 105:41 ).

  • Tohu, a "desolate" place, a place "waste" or "unoccupied" (Deuteronomy 32:10; Job 12:24; Compare Genesis 1:2 , "without form"). The wilderness region in the Sinaitic peninsula through which for forty years the Hebrews wandered is generally styled "the wilderness of the wanderings." This entire region is in the form of a triangle, having its base toward the north and its apex toward the south. Its extent from north to south is about 250 miles, and at its widest point it is about 150 miles broad. Throughout this vast region of some 1,500 square miles there is not a single river. The northern part of this triangular peninsula is properly the "wilderness of the wanderings" (et-Tih). The western portion of it is called the "wilderness of Shur" (Exodus 15:22 ), and the eastern the "wilderness of Paran."

    The "wilderness of Judea" (Matthew 3:1 ) is a wild, barren region, lying between the Dead Sea and the Hebron Mountains. It is the "Jeshimon" mentioned in 1 Samuel 23:19 .

    Copyright Statement
    These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Wilderness'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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