(See also wiki article Kadesh_Barnea
KADESH or KADESH-BARNEA - This was an important oasis in the North Sinai desert. It is mentioned incidentally in Gn.14.7, 16.7, and played a significant ro1e in the desert wandering of the Israelites, being the scene of the striking of the rock by Moses (Nu.20.2). For long it was the centre of the tribes (Nu.20.1, Dt.1.46), the scene of Korah's rebellion (Nu.16) and of the death of Miriam (Nu.20.1). The spies were sent hence into Palestine (Nu.32.8, Dt.1.20ff), and returned hither (Nu.13.26), and from here a delegation was dispatched to the king of Edom (Nu.20.14ff, Jg.11.16).
Kadesh-barnea lay on the south boundary of the Amorite highlands (Dt.1.19) and on the confines of Edom (Nu.20.6). The conquest of Joshua is depicted as reaching thus far (Jos.10.41). Thus a location is visualized on a line, running from the Ascent of Akrabbim on the east to the Brook of Egypt on the west, which conventionally marked the southern boundary of Canaan (Nu.34.4, Jos.15.3). In Gn.20.1 it is placed E. of Gerar but, as the latter place was located WNW. of Beersheba, the direction is only vague. In Ezk.47.19, 48.28 it is located between Tamar and the Brook of Egypt, again a rather vague location. These notices, however, do not exclude H. Clay Trumbull's location at a group of springs in the tribal territory of the 'Azazimin Arabs, about fifty miles S. of Beersheba. One of these springs, 'Ain Qedeis, probably preserves the Biblical name, but the most important settlement has been located at 'Ain Qedeirat, where the remains of an ancient fort were recognized by Woolley and Lawrence and later dated by Glueck to the early Hebrew monarchy. It is plausibly argued by Mowinckel that this place, a shrine three days' journey from Egypt, was the immediate objective of the Israelites at the Exodus, and that the desert wandering was rather a gravitation about this centre. He suggests further that as an important entrepot of caravan trade it was the cause of the war between Amalek and Israel (Ex.17.8ff). The locality is still a much frequented oasis, and 'Ain Qedeirat has been successfully developed to the limit of its possibilities as an experimental farm by the Egyptian Government.
Tribal disputes and trials by ordeal were doubtless conducted here, as suggested by the names En Mishpat, 'Well of Judgment' (Gn.14.7), Waters of Meribah, 'Suit at Law,' Massah, 'Trial' (Ex.17.1-7), and Kadesh, 'Holy,' itself. The well as the abode of a numen is a common conception in ancient Semitic animism and modern Arab superstition.
[Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - W.E. - J.Gr.]
[Illustration: 'THE HOLY LAND - A Unique Perspective.' Photography & Satellite cartography - Richard Cleave. © 1993 Rohr Productions Ltd. Lion Publishing plc. (An excellent and entirely original Bible Atlas.)]