The Negev

The Negev is triangular in shape. It stretches southward from the mountains and lowlands of Judah, where the rolling hills terminate abruptly along the desert. The Dead Sea is located to the east, the Mediterranean Sea is to the west, and the Sinai is to the southwest.

The origin of the word Negev is from the Hebrew root meaning “dry.” In the Bible the word Negev is also used for the direction “south.” Both names are quite appropriate because it is the southernmost area of Israel, and it is most definitely one of the most arid of biblical places. It is a mixture of dirt, rocks, and canyons, with brown dusty mountains interrupted by dry riverbeds that bloom briefly after rain. It is a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the spring months, and where camels and goats can sustain life.

The Negev was the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With so little rainfall, wells became a matter of life and death. You can understand why so much emphasis is put on water sources in the biblical account of the Patriarchs. Beersheva and Arad were two major Biblical towns in the Negev.