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The word conveys the idea of ruin or desolation caused by hostile lands, as when God says to Jerusalem (Es., v, 14): "I will make thee desolate "; or when the Psalmist, referring to the punishment inflicted by Jehovah, says ( Psalm 9:7 ): "The enemy are consumed, left desolate for ever". It was looked upon as a place without water, thus Is., xliii, 19: "Behold I shall set up streams in the desert [ jeshimon ]". In poetical passages it is used as a parallel to midbar , cf.Deut., xxxii, 10; Ps., lxxviii, 40 (Heb.): "How often did ye provoke him in the wilderness [ midbar ], and grieve him in the desert [ jeshimon ]?It was not fertilized by streams of water, but springs were to be found there ( Genesis 16:7 ), and in places cisterns to collect the rainfall.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.Four words are chiefly used in Hebrew to express the idea : The more general word.It is from the root dabar , "to lead" (cattle to pasture) [cf. Hence midbar among its other meanings has that of tracts of pasturage for flocks.Very frequently the word 'arabah has a mere geographical sense.
No such ideas are attached to the Hebrew words for desert.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.Numbers ), where the Israelites are said to have encamped at the end of the wanderings.Books have been written to discuss the geography of this region.Suffice it to say that it comprises the ground over which the Israelites travelled from their crossing of the Red Sea till their arrival in the Promised Land.