CADES-BARNE. KJV Apoc. form of Kadeshbarnea.
KADESH-BARNEA kā’ dĭsh bär’ niə (קָדֵ֥שׁ בַּרְנֵֽעַ, the holy “city” of Barnea, an oasis area in the N of Sinai.
Kadesh-barnea is a term which was applied to an oasis area made by the presence of four springs: Ain Qedeis, Ain el-Qudeirat, el-Qoseimeh and el-Muweilah (reading E to W). This multiple spring area was the largest in the Negeb-Sinai district and was located approximately fifty m. SW of Beer-sheba and about fifty m. from the Mediterranean coast to the W. Earlier scholars usually applied the name Kadesh-barnea to only one of these springs. Since Ain Qedeis preserved the original Kadesh, some scholars accepted this site, but it was only a small spring. It might have been sufficient for the Tabernacle and its staff, but no more. Other scholars favored Ain el-Qudeirat since it was the largest of the springs between Suez and Beer-sheba. There were ruins of a Judean fortress at that site.
The name Kadesh, i.e. “Holy,” is a natural designation for a site with so much water in a desert area. Only the gods could have done this! Barnea is a term not yet understood. Kadesh-barnea was the junction point on the Negeb-Sinai border where the road from Beersheba forked into three tracks. The W road followed the Wadi el-’Arish to the Mediterranean. The central road continued S to Egypt and the E track soon turned S to the.
The first Biblical reference to the site (
Abraham used Kadesh-barnea as a major supply depot on his trade road between Gerar, his Palestinian business base, and his Egyptian market (
Kadesh-barnea shared with Mt. Sinai the key historic events of the wilderness wanderings, although scholars differ concerning the exact amount of time Israel spent at Kadesh.
The springs at Kadesh-barnea are also called “the waters of Meribah,” i.e. “contention” (
Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom asking permission to cross his territory, but the request was denied (
Joshua conquered Kadesh-barnea (
The Abraham period has archeological material that illuminates the Genesis story; see B. Rothenberg’s God’s Wilderness, pp. 35-56. The archeologists have found no permanent buildings from the period of the Exodus at any of the four Kadesh springs. The OT is specific, however, that the Israelites were nomads in Sinai; even their Tabernacle was a mobile building; consequently, there is little for the archeologist to discover. It is hoped, however, that further research may throw some light on this period.
The archeologist resumes the story at Kadesh-barnea by the discovery of the fort which M. Dothan has excavated. Earlier work on it had been done by Woolley and Lawrence. The earliest phase is 9th cent. b.c. or slightly earlier. The main fort dates from the 8th cent. b.c. or slightly earlier, and was used through the 6th cent. b.c. It was destroyed by Edomites. The fort was not on high ground, but in the valley alongside the stream that flows from Ain en-Qudeirat. It is a typical casemate-fortress measuring 60 x 41 meters. Each of its casemate walls is c. 1 meter thick with 4 or 5 meters of open space between them. There were eight towers, one on each corner and one near the center of each side. The upper story of the fort was brick. This site became militarily important under Jehoshaphat when he entered the Red Sea trade.
Some sherds from the Pers. period show a postexilic occupation around the spring, but the next major occupation in the whole Kadesh-barnea area was Nabataean. The last masters in the general area were the Byzantines.
C. L. Woolley and T. E. Lawrence, The Wilderness of Zin, new ed. (1936); B. Rothenberg, God’s Wilderness—Discoveries in Sinai (1961); M. Dothan, IEJ, “The Fortress of Kadesh-barnea,” vol. 15, 134ff.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See KADESH-BARNEA (Apocrypha).