KEDESH (kē'dĕsh, Heb. qedesh, sacred place)

KEDESH ke’ dĕsh (קֶ֥דֶשׁ, LXX Καδης, sanctuary). Name of various places in Pal. This name, like Kadesh, with which it is sometimes confused, generally indicated a place where some kind of shrine had stood. Since such shrines may have been fairly common, the term may have been used at various locations, in some of which it was retained, eventually becoming simply a name with no continuing recollection of the cause of its origin.

2. The frequency with which such a prominent city is specifically identified as “Kedesh in Naphtali” or “Kedesh in Galilee” suggests that another city of considerable importance may also have been called Kedesh. A king of Kedesh (Josh 12:22), one of the Canaanite kings, was killed by Joshua. Since this mention occurs directly after the kings of Taanach and Megiddo, it would seem to point to a city in that area. Unmistakable evidence of the existence of such a town is found (1 Chron 6) where the list of cities given to the Levites of the family of Gershom mentions not only Kedesh-naphtali (v. 76) but also another town of the same name in the region of Issachar (v. 72). In the parallel list (Josh 19:20) the place occupied by Kedesh is taken by the name Kishion. One wonders whether this could be another name for the same place based upon its nearness to the historic river Kishon. Further evidence of the existence of a Kedesh in Issachar near the river Kishon is found in Judges 4:11 where it is stated that Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the other Kenites, in the area of Judah in the S, and had moved his tent to the vicinity of Kedesh, thus laying the foundation for the later scene when Sisera, running from the battle, came to the tent of Heber and there met his death at the hand of Heber’s wife Jael (Judg 4:17) It is quite inconceivable that Sisera, fleeing from the battle in which all his men were killed, would have run forty m. N to the region of Kedesh in Galilee, twelve m. beyond the fortified city of Hazor to which Sisera belonged. The location near Taanach and Megiddo in the region of Issachar would fit the requirements of the narrative far better. A small mound in the area between these two towns still preserves the name Tell Abu Kudeis; its location fills the requirements of the story.

3. In the list of the cities of Judah in Joshua 15:23 the name Kedesh also occurs. Since there is no other mention of such a place in the Scripture it may be a city otherwise unknown or, as some have suggested, another name for Kadesh-barnea (q.v.).


J. Garstang, The Foundations of Bible History: Joshua, Judges (1931), 301, 390, 391; F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, vol. 2 (1938), 416.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(qedhesh; Kades):

(1) One of the "uttermost cities" of Judah "toward the border of Edom in the South" (Jos 15:23). Possibly it is to be identified with KADESH-BARNEA (which see); otherwise it is strange that this latter should be omitted from the list. Dillmann would identify it with Kadus, to the South of Hebron, mentioned by Muqaddasi.

(2) A town in the territory of Issachar, given to the Gershonite Levites (1Ch 6:72). In the list of Joshua (21:28) its place is taken by KISHION (which see). Conder suggests identification with Tell Abu Qades, near Megiddo.

(3) Kedesh-naphtali, the famous city of refuge in the uplands of Naphtali. It is called "Kedesh," simply, in Jos 12:22, etc.; Kedesh-naphtali in Jud 4:6; Tobit 1:2; Kedesh in Galilee in Jos 20:7, etc. It was assigned to the Gershonite Levites (1Ch 6:76). From the name "holy," we gather that it was a sanctuary from old time. It was therefore a place of asylum, and only preserved its ancient character in this respect when chosen as one of the cities of refuge. It was the home of Barak, and here his host assembled. When the Assyrians invaded the land under Tiglath-pileser, it was among the first cities to be captured, and its inhabitants were deported (2Ki 15:29). Near Kedesh was fought the great battle between Jonathan the Maccabee and Demetrius (1 Macc 11:63 ff). Josephus says that in his time it belonged to the Tyrians, lying between their land and that of Galilee (Ant., XIII, v, 6; B J, II, xviii, 1; IV, ii, 3, etc.). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 20 miles from Tyre, near to Paneas. It is represented by the modern village of Kedes, which lies on the plateau to the West of el-Chuleh. It crowns a tell which runs out in a low ridge into the little plain to the West. Near the fountain, which rises under the ridge to the North, are the most interesting of the ancient remains. There are many fine sarcophagi, some of them being used as watering-troughs. From its lofty situation, Kedesh commanded a spacious view over a richly varied landscape, With smiling cornfields, and hills clothed with oak and terebinth.

Scene of a battle between Judas Maccabeus and the forces of Demetrius.

See Kedesh-naphtali, under KEDESH, 3.