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August 4    Scripture

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Bible Cities : Negev
The Ancient Negev or Negeb

Map of the Ancient Negev

Negeb in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE neg'-eb (ha-neghebh, "the negeb" or simply, neghebh, from a root meaning "to be dry," and therefore in the first instance implying the "dry" or "parched regions," hence, in the Septuagint it is usually translated eremos, "desert," also nageb): 1. Meaning: As the Negeb lay to the South of Judah, the word came to be used in the sense of "the South," and is so used in a few passages (e.g. Gen 13:14) and in such is translated lips (see GEOGRAPHY). The English translation is unsuitable in several passages, and likely to lead to confusion. For example, in Gen 13:1 Abram is represented as going "into the South" when journeying northward from Egypt toward Bethel; in Nu 13:22 the spies coming from the "wilderness of Zin" toward Hebron are described as coming "by the South," although they were going north. The difficulty in these and many other passages is at once obviated if it is recognized that the Negeb was a geographical term for a definite geographical region, just as Shephelah, literally, "lowland," was the name of another district of Israel. In the Revised Version (British and American) "Negeb" is given in margin, but it would make for clearness if it were restored to the text. 2. Description: This "parched" land is generally considered as beginning South of edition Dahariyeb--the probable site of DEBIR (which see)--and as stretching South in a series of rolling hills running in a general direction of East to West until the actual wilderness begins, a distance of perhaps 70 miles (see NATURAL FEATURES). To the East it is bounded by the Dead Sea and the southern Ghor, and to the West there is no defined boundary before the Mediterranean. It is a land of sparse and scanty springs and small rainfall; in the character of its soil it is a transition from the fertility of Canaan to the wilderness of the desert; it is essentially a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the early months and where camels and goats can sustain life, even through the long summer drought. Today, as through most periods of history, it is a land for the nomad rather than the settled inhabitant, although abundant ruins in many spots testify to better physical conditions at some periods (see I, 5, below). The direction of the valleys East or West, the general dryness, and the character of the inhabitants have always made it a more or less isolated region without thoroughfare. The great routes pass along the coast to the West or up the Arabah to the East. It formed an additional barrier...