English Bibles translate the Hebrew word negev in a variety of ways.
- South — KJV; NKJV
- “the South [country]” is the Translator’s Note in the NET Bible. A study note says, “Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.”
- Negeb — ESV
- Negev — most modern English versions.
- eremos — the word for desert or wilderness is used in the LXX. This word does not describe the Negev precisely enough.
I am away from home and most of my resources, but I recall hearing the late Anson Rainey describe the Negev like the figure 8. Turn the 8 horizontal with Beersheba in the center. The area is one that is often subject to drought and famine.
The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob spent much time in the Negev (Genesis 12:9; 13:1,3; 20:1; 24:62).
The Israelite spies were sent by Moses from the Sinai to investigate Canaan. The text makes it clear that they had to go through the Negev to get to the hill country and Hebron. Hebron is only about 25 miles north of Beersheba. Once we head south from Hebron we begin to notice a change from the hill country to a more dry clime.
When Moses sent them to investigate the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up through the Negev, and then go up into the hill country (Numbers 13:17 NET)
When they went up through the Negev, they came to Hebron… (Numbers 13:22 NET)
The Canaanite king of Arad lived in the Negev (Numbers 21:1). Arad is located east of Beersheba as the land slopes down to the Dead Sea.
Our photo today was made a few miles north of Beersheba. I think it illustrates the typical dryness of the region.