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`Arabah , derived from the root 'arab , "to be arid", is another word for desert, which seems to express more than one of its natural characteristics.
The word means a steppe, a desert plain; and it conveys the idea of a stretch of country, arid, unproductive, and desolate.
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Not that there were towns in the desert occupied by a stable population. For the desert was not a place regularly cultivated like the fields and gardens of ordinary civilized districts.
Rather, it was a region in which was to be found pasturage, not rich, but sufficient for sheep and goats, and more abundant after the rainy season.
Numbers ), where the Israelites are said to have encamped at the end of the wanderings.
These are the principal words used for desert in the Bible .
In such cases it refers at times to the wilderness of the Exodus (cf. Parts of the waste region about the Dead Sea are called the jeshimon ; and to the north-east of the same sea there is a place called Beth-Jeshimoth (cf.
There are, however, others less frequently used, only one or two of which can be mentioned here: such as tohu , used in Gen., i, 2: "the earth was void ".
In Deut., xxxii, 10, it is used in parallelism with midbar , and in Ps. Such also is çiyyah , which means, literally, dryness, but refers at times to the desert: so, 'areç çiyyah , "a land of drought", or "a desert" ( Hosea 2:5 ).
Midbar is the word generally used in the Pentateuch for the desert of the Exodus; but of the regions of the Exodus various districts are distinguished as the desert of Sin ( Exodus 16:1 ), the desert of Sinai ( Exodus 19:1 ), the desert of Sur ( Exodus ), the desert of Sin ( zin ) ( Numbers ), etc.
Moreover, it is used of other districts, as in Western Palestine of the wilderness of Juda ( Judges ), and again in the east of the desert of Moab ( Deuteronomy 2:8 ).