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Negeb

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The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

    Negeb

    The Negeb is a mountainous desert south of Judah between the Arabah and the Mediterranean Sea (Map 1:V–X6–7). Its name means “dryness” but can also be synonymous with “the south” (Gen. 28.14). Abraham and Isaac sojourned there (Gen. 12.9; 13.1–3; 20.1; 24.62; 26.17–23). The Amalekites (Num 13.29), Jerahmeelites, Kenites (or Kenizzites), Cherethites, and Calebites (1 Sam. 27.10; 30.14) dwelt there. After the conquest of Canaan, it was allotted to Simeon (Josh. 19.1–9; 1 Chron. 4.28–33), but eventually incorporated into Judah (1 Sam. 27.10; “Negeb of Judah at Beer‐sheba,” 2 Sam. 24.7). The Bible depicts it as desolate (Isa. 21.1; 30.6) although habitable (Jer. 32.44; 33.13; Obad. 1.20). Archaeological evidence shows the Negeb was settled, at times surprisingly thickly, before, during, and after the biblical period.

    Joseph A. Greene

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