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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature


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Ka´desh or Kadesh-barnea, a site on the south-eastern border of the Promised Land towards Edom, of much interest as being the point at which the Israelites twice encamped with the intention of entering Palestine, and from which they were twice sent back; the first time in pursuance of their sentence to wander forty years in the wilderness, and the second time from the refusal of the King of Edom to permit a passage through his territories. It was from Kadesh that the spies entered Palestine by ascending the mountains; and the murmuring Israelites, afterwards attempting to do the same, were driven back by the Amalekites and Canaanites, and afterwards apparently by the King of Arad, as far as Hormah, then called Zephath (;;;; comp. ). There was also at Kadesh a fountain (En-mishpat) mentioned long before the exode of the Israelites (); and the miraculous supply of water took place only on the second visit, which implies that at the first there was no lack of this necessary article. After this, Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom, informing him that they were in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost part of his border, and asking leave to pass through his country, so as to continue their course round Moab, and approach Palestine from the east. This Edom refused, and the Israelites accordingly marched to Mount Hor, where Aaron died; and then along the Arabah (desert of Zin) to the Red Sea (). The name of Kadesh again occurs in describing the southern quarter of Judah, the line defining which is drawn 'from the shore of the Salt Sea, from the bay that looked southward; and it went out to the south side of Akrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side to Kadesh-barnea' (; comp. ).

From these intimations the map-makers, who found it difficult to reconcile them with the place usually assigned to Kadesh (in the desert about midway between the Mediterranean and Dead Sea), were in the habit of placing a second Kadesh nearer the Dead Sea and the Wady Arabah. But it was shown by Dr. Kitto in the Pictorial Bible (Note on ) that one Kadesh would sufficiently answer all the conditions required, by being placed more to the south, nearer to Mount Hor, on the west border of the Wady Arabah, than this second Kadesh.

According to this view Kadesh was laid down in his map in the same line, and not far from the place which has since been assigned to it from actual observation by Dr. Robinson. This concurrence of different lines of research in the same result is curious and valuable, and the position of Kadesh will be regarded as now scarcely open to dispute. It was clear that the discovery of the fountain in the northern part of the great valley would go far to fix the question. Robinson accordingly discovered a fountain called Ain el-Weibeh, which is even at this day the most frequented watering-place in all the Arabah, and he was struck by the entire adaptedness of the site to the Scriptural account of the proceedings of the Israelites on their second arrival at Kadesh. 'Over against us lay the land of Edom; we were in its uttermost border; and the great Wady el-Ghuweir afforded a direct and easy passage through the mountains to the table-land above, which was directly before us; while further in the south Mount Hor formed a prominent and striking object, at the distance of two good days' journey for such a host' (Bib. Researches, ii. 538). Further on (p. 610) he adds: 'There the Israelites would have Mount Hor in the S.S.E. towering directly before them… in the N.W. rises the mountain by which they attempted to ascend to Palestine, with the pass still called Sufah (Zephath); while further north we find also Tell Arad, marking the site of the ancient Arad. To all this comes then the vicinity of the southern bay of the Dead Sea, the line of cliffs or offset separating the Ghôr from the Arabah, answering to the ascent of Akrabbim; and the desert of Zin, with the place of the same name between Akrabbim and Kadesh, not improbably at the water of Hasb, in the Arabah. In this way all becomes easy and natural, and the Scriptural account is entirely accordant with the character of the country.'





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Kadesh'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

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