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JESHIMON (jē-shī'mŏn, Heb. hayeshîmōn, a waste, a desert). The word is often used as a common noun to refer to the desert of Sinai (e.g., Deut.32.10; Ps.78.40; Ps.106.14; Isa.43.19) and is usually translated “desert.” Sometimes it is used as a geographical term and probably refers to two different districts:

1. The “desert” in the Jordan Valley, NE of the Dead Sea, seen from the top of Pisgah (Num.21.20; Num.23.28 kjv; niv “wasteland”). This is a bare, salty land without any vegetation.

2. The sterile plateau to which David went in fleeing from Saul. It was near Ziph and Maon, SE of Hebron. It refers to the eastern section of the Judean hills, which stretch toward the Dead Sea. For most of the year it is bare of vegetation. Its chalky hills have always been the home of outlaws (1Sam.23.19, 1Sam.23.24; 1Sam.26.1, 1Sam.26.3).

JESHIMON jĭ shī’ mən (יְשִׁימֹֽון; LXX Ιεσσαιμυν, meaning waste or desert, and usually rendered as a common noun, except with the article, when it refers to a specific area, e.g.):

The wilderness of Judea.

The southern part, SE of Hebron, in the vicinity of Ziph (1 Sam 23:19, 24; 26:1, 3).

The region of Pisgah in Moab.

A barren area, NE of the Dead Sea (Num 21:20; 23:28, see KJV and notes in Oxford ed. of RSV).

The desert was regarded as a dreadful place, to be avoided, or crossed hurriedly. Its occupants were often regarded as inferior, or they would not remain there (cf. the disdainful attitude of the Egyp. texts toward the “sand-dwellers”). Figurative usage of the term described a nation desolated and defeated by her enemies (cf. Jer 22:6; Hos 2:3-5). See Desert.


G. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1906), 312-314; G. Wright and F. Filson, The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible, rev. ed. (1956), 125, Map IX; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 57.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

je-she’-mon, jesh’-i-mon (ha-yeshimon, "the desert," and in the Revised Version (British and American) so translated but in the King James Version, Nu 21:20; 23:28; 1Sa 23:19,24; 26:1,3, "Jeshimon" as a place-name. In Numbers, the Septuagint reads he eremos, "the desert"; in 1 Samuel, the Septuagint reads Iessaimon): In these passages probably two districts are referred to:

(1) The "desert" North of the Dead Sea, which was overlooked from Pisgah (Nu 21:20; 23:28). This is the bare and sterile land, saturated with salt, lying on each side of the Jordan North of the Dead Sea, where for miles practically no vegetable life can exist.

(2) The sterile plateau West of the steep cliffs bordering the western shores of the Dead Sea. Here between the lower slopes of the Judean hills, where thousands of Bedouin live and herd their flocks, and the more fertile borders of the sea with their oases (`Ain Feshkhah, `Ain Jidy, etc.), is a broad strip of utterly waterless land, the soft chalky hills of which are, for all but a few short weeks, destitute of practically any vegetation. The Hill of Hachilah was on the edge of this desert (1Sa 23:19; 26:1,3), and the Arabah was to its south (1Sa 23:24). It is possible that the references in Numbers may also apply to this region.

The word "Jeshimon" (yeshimon) is often used as a common noun in referring to the desert of Sinai (De 32:10; Ps 78:40; 106:14; Isa 43:19, etc.), and except in the first two of these references, when we have "wilderness," it is always translated "desert." Although used in 7 passages in poetical parallelism to midhbar, translated "wilderness," it really means a much more hopeless place; in a midhbar animals can be pastured, but a yeshimon is a desolate waste.