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Holman Bible Dictionary


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(kay' dehssh-bahr nee' uh) Place name meaning “consecrated.” The site where the Hebrews stayed for most of thirty-eight years after leaving Mount Sinai and before entering the Promised Land. The Old Testament locates it between the Wilderness of Paran and the Wilderness of Zin (Numbers 13:3-21 ,Numbers 13:3-21,13:26 ). Moses sent out the twelve spies into Canaan from Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 13:3-21 ,Numbers 13:3-21,13:26 ) The Hebrews also attempted their abortive southern penetration into Canaan from there (Numbers 13:26 ; Numbers 14:40-45 ). Kadesh-Barnea is mentioned as a site where Abraham fought the Amalekites (Genesis 14:7 ) and as the southern border of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:3 ).

The actual site of Kadesh-Barnea has been much debated, but the two most frequently mentioned sites are Ein-Qedeis and Ein el-Qudeirat. Both of these sites are in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, and both have a spring. Most scholars today accept Ein el-Qudeirat because of its abundance of water (the largest springs and oasis in northern Sinai). Ein el-Qudeirat is located on the crossroads of two major roads of antiquity—the road from Edom to Egypt and the road from the Red Sea to the Negev and southern Canaan, later southern Judah. The location on the road from Egypt to Edom would fit well the biblical context of Kadesh-Barnea as the oasis home for the Hebrews during the wilderness wandering period. Likewise, the location of Kadesh-Barnea along the north-south road may explain the rationale for attempting the invasion of Canaan at Arad, since Arad lay north of Kadesh-Barnea on that road.

Excavations of Ein el-Qudeirat have shown major fortresses dating from the period of Solomon to the fall of the monarchy (tenth century B.C. to sixth century B.C.), but no remains from the period of the wilderness wandering have been found to date. This raises the question about the identity of the site of Kadesh-Barnea. The site has not been fully excavated, however, and as yet no better alternative site has come to light.

Joel F. Drinkard

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Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Kadesh-Barnea'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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