The Negev or southern region extended from the lower end of the Dead Sea SW to
SOUTH. The problem of defining directions in a community which did not possess the compass must always have been a difficult one. East and W could be related to sunrise and sunset, but the intermediate direction of S produced a number of different Heb. concepts, e.g., תֵּימָן, H9402, the right hand of a person facing, by convention, toward the sunrise. Most commonly, however, the Heb. adopts negeb, “parched,” describing the region of semi-desert and desert lying in this direction, when viewed from the Israelite heartland. This term Negeb has now become firmly attached, as a regional name, to the southern extension of the modern Israeli state. The NT Gr. has νότος, G3803, for both “south wind” (cf.
For Israel, the S must have had a significance not unlike that of “the Wild West” in American 19th-cent. thinking and its modern representations. This southern border of the kingdom was an uncertain and fluctuating affair, unmarked by any clear topographic feature. Beyond it lurked the warlike desert tribes, e.g. the Amalekites, and Israel learned to anticipate from this quarter both unpleasant climatic effects (see Storm) and also military attack. Thus Elihu’s comment that the whirlwind comes out of the S (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(1) neghebh, according BDB from [?] naghabh, meaning "to be dry," the word most often used, in the(British and American) capitalized (South) in those places where it seems to denote a particular region, i.e. to the South of Judah.
(2) yamin, "right hand," "right." The derived meaning, "south," seems to imply an eastern posture in prayer in which the right hand is toward the South; compare Arabic yamin, "right," and yemen, "Yemen," a region in Southwestern Arabia.
(3) teman, from the same root as (2) is often used for the south; also for the south wind (
(4) yam, literally, "sea" (
(5) darom, etymology doubtful (
(6) midhbar, literally, "desert" (
(7) lips, "south west wind" (
(8) mesembria, literally, "mid-day"; "south" (
(9) notos, "south wind" (
The south wind is often referred to: see
Of the passages where South (neghebh) clearly refers to a particular region between Palestine and Sinai see: "And Abraham journeyed, going on still toward the South" (neghbah) (