Judean desert


Judean Wilderness

The Judean Wilderness is often referred to in the Bible simply by the term “wilderness.” Its Hebrew name was Yeshimon, meaning “devastation.” The Judean Wilderness extends from just north of Jerusalem to the southern tip of the Dead Sea. The strip of land itself ranges from 10-20 miles wide and lies between the hill country of Judah and the Rift Valley. This area is in the “rain shadow” - that area on the east side of the hill country that receives little rain from the Mediterranean Sea. The desert is hot and dry most of the year.

The area experiences a tremendous drop in elevation. From Jerusalem to Jericho, a distance of about 15 miles, the elevation drops from 2,600 feet above sea level to 1,100 feet below sea level- a drop of 3,700 feet. Because of the steepness of the twisted canyons, even the downhill journey from Jerusalem to Jericho can take 6-8 hours on foot. In the Old Testament, individual portions of the Judean Wilderness were often named for nearby towns and villages-the desert of En Gedi, the desert of Maon, the desert of Tekoa, and the desert of Ziph.