|Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia|
neg'-eb (ha-neghebh, "the negeb" or simply, neghebh, from a root meaning "to be dry," and therefore in the first instance implying the "dry" or "parched regions," hence, in the Septuagint it is usually translated eremos, "desert," also nageb):
As the Negeb lay to the South of Judah, the word came to be used in the sense of "the South," and is so used in a few passages (e.g. Genesis 13:14) and in such is translated lips (see GEOGRAPHY). The English translation is unsuitable in several passages, and likely to lead to confusion. For example, in Genesis 13:1 Abram is represented as going "into the South" when journeying northward from Egypt toward Bethel; in Numbers 13:22 the spies coming from the "wilderness of Zin" toward Hebron are described as coming "by the South," although they were going north. The difficulty in these and many other passages is at once obviated if it is recognized that the Negeb was a geographical term for a definite geographical region, just as Shephelah, literally, "lowland," was the name of another district of Palestine. In the Revised Version (British and American) "Negeb" is given in margin, but it would make for clearness if it were restored to the text.
This "parched" land is generally considered as beginning South of edition Dahariyeb-the probable site of DEBIR (which see)-and as stretching South in a series of rolling hills running in a general direction of East to West until the actual wilderness begins, a distance of perhaps 70 miles (see NATURAL FEATURES). To the East it is bounded by the Dead Sea and the southern Ghor, and to the West there is no defined boundary before the Mediterranean. It is a land of sparse and scanty springs and small rainfall; in the character of its soil it is a transition from the fertility of Canaan to the wilderness of the desert; it is essentially a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the early months and where camels and goats can sustain life, even through the long summer drought. Today, as through most periods of history, it is a land for the nomad rather than the settled inhabitant, although abundant ruins in many spots testify to better physical conditions at some periods (see I, 5, below). The direction of the valleys East or West, the general dryness, and the character of the inhabitants have always made it a more or less isolated region without thoroughfare. The great routes pass along the coast to the West or up the Arabah to the East. It formed an additional barrier to the wilderness beyond it; against all who would lead an army from the South, this southern frontier of Judah was always secure. Israel could not reach the promised land by this route, through the land of the Amalekites (Numbers 13:29; Numbers 14:43-45).
3. Old Testament References:
The Negeb was the scene of much of Abram's wanderings (Genesis 12:9; Genesis 13:1, 3; 20:1); it was in this district that Hagar met with the angel (Genesis 16:7, 14); Isaac (Genesis 24:62) and Jacob (Genesis 37:1; Genesis 46:5) both dwelt there. Moses sent the spies through this district to the hill country (Numbers 13:17, 22); the Amalekites then dwelt there (Numbers 13:29) and apparently, too, in some parts of it, the Avvim (Joshua 13:3, 4). The inheritance of the children of Simeon, as given in Joshua 19:1-9, was in the Negeb, but in Joshua 15:21-32 these cities are credited to Judah (see SIMEON). Achish allotted to David, in response to his request, the city of ZIKLAG (q.v) in the Negeb (1 Samuel 27:5 f); the exploits of David were against various parts of this district described as the Negeb of Judah, the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites, and the Negeb of the Kenites, while in 1 Samuel 30:14 we have mention of the Negeb of the Cherethites and the Negeb of Caleb. To this we may add the Negeb of Arad (Judges 1:16). It is impossible to define the districts of these various clans (see separate articles under these names). The, Negeb, together with the "hill-country" and the "Shephelah," was according to Jeremiah (17:26; 32:44:00; 33:13) to have renewed prosperity after the captivity of Judah was ended.
4. Later History:
When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem the Edomites sided with the Babylonians (compare Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 35:3-15 Obadiah 1:10-16), and during the absence of the Jews they advanced north and occupied all the Negeb and Southern Judea as far as Hebron (see JUDAEA). Here they annoyed the Jews in Maccabean times until Judas expelled them from Southern Judea (164 B.C.) and John Hyrcanus conquered their country and compelled them to become Jews (109 B.C.). It was to one of the cities here-Malatha-that Herod Agrippa withdrew himself (Josephus, Ant, XVIII, vi, 2).
The palmy days of this district appear to have been during the Byzantine period: the existing ruins, so far as they can be dated at all, belong to this time. Beersheba was an important city with a bishop, and Elusa (mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century) was the seat of a bishop in the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. After the rise of Mohammedanism the land appears to have lapsed into primitive conditions. Although lawlessness and want of any central control may account for much of the retrogression, yet it is probable that Professor Ellsworth Huntington (loc. cit.) is right in his contention that a change of climate has had much to do with the rise and fall of civilization and settled habitation in this district. The district has long been given over to the nomads, and it is only quite recently that the Turkish policy of planting an official with a small garrison at Beersheba and at `Aujeh has produced some slight change in the direction of a settled population and agricultural pursuits.
5. Its Ancient Prosperity:
It is clear that in at least two historic periods the Negeb enjoyed a very considerable prosperity. What it may have been in the days of the Patriarchs it is difficult to judge; all we read of them suggests a purely nomadic life similar to the Bedouin of today but with better pasturage. In the division of the land among the tribes mention is made of many cities-the Hebrew mentions 29 (Joshua 15:21-32; Joshua 19:1-9 1 Chronicles 4:28-33)-and the wealth of cattle evidently was great (compare 1 Samuel 15:9; 1 Samuel 27:9; 1 Samuel 30:16 2 Chronicles 14:14). The condition of things must have been far different from that of recent times.
The extensive ruins at Bir es Seba` (Beersheba) Khalasa (Elusa), Ruheibeh (REHOBOTH, which see), `Aujeh and other cities, together with the signs of orchards, vineyards and gardens scattered widely around these and other sites, show how comparatively well populated this area was in Byzantine times in particular. Professor Huntington (loc. cit.) concludes from these ruins that the population of the large towns of the Negeb alone at this period must have amounted to between 45,000 and 50,000. The whole district does not support 1,000 souls today.
Robinson, BR (1838); Wilton, The Negeb, or "South Country" of Scripture (1863); E.H. Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus, II (1871); Trumbull, Kadesh-Barnea (1884); G. A. Smith, HGHL, chapter xiii (1894); E. Huntington, Palestine and Its Transformation, chapter vi, etc.
E. W. G. Masterman
Negeb (37 Occurrences)
Genesis 12:9 Abram traveled, going on still toward the South. (See RSV)
Genesis 13:1 Abram went up out of Egypt: he, his wife, all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South. (See RSV)
Genesis 13:3 He went on his journeys from the South even to Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, (See RSV)
Genesis 20:1 Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the South, and lived between Kadesh and Shur. He lived as a foreigner in Gerar. (See RSV)
Genesis 24:62 Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he lived in the land of the South. (See RSV)
Numbers 13:17 Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, "Go up this way by the South, and go up into the hill country: (See RSV)
Numbers 13:22 They went up by the South, and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) (See RSV)
Numbers 13:29 Amalek dwells in the land of the South: and the Hittite, and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea, and along by the side of the Jordan." (See RSV)
Numbers 21:1 The Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the South, heard tell that Israel came by the way of Atharim; and he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive. (See RSV)
Numbers 33:40 The Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the South in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel. (See RSV)
Deuteronomy 1:7 turn, and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all the places near there, in the Arabah, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and in the South, and by the seashore, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. (See RSV)
Deuteronomy 34:3 and the South, and the Plain of the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, to Zoar. (See RSV)
Joshua 10:40 So Joshua struck all the land, the hill country, and the South, and the lowland, and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining, but he utterly destroyed all that breathed, as Yahweh, the God of Israel, commanded. (See RSV)
Joshua 11:16 So Joshua captured all that land, the hill country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel, and the lowland of the same; (See RSV)
Joshua 12:8 in the hill country, and in the lowland, and in the Arabah, and in the slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the South; the Hittite, the Amorite, and the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: (See RSV)
Joshua 15:19 She said, "Give me a blessing. Because you have set me in the land of the South, give me also springs of water." He gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (See RSV)
Joshua 19:8 and all the villages that were around these cities to Baalath Beer, Ramah of the South. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. (See RSV)
Judges 1:9 And afterward the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowland. (DBY RSV)
Judges 1:15 She said to him, "Give me a present; since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water." And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (DBY RSV)
Judges 1:16 And the descendants of the Ken'ite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad; and they went and settled with the people. (DBY RSV)
1 Samuel 27:10 Achish said, "Against whom have you made a raid today?" David said, "Against the South of Judah, against the South of the Jerahmeelites, and against the South of the Kenites." (See RSV)
1 Samuel 30:1 It happened, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the South, and on Ziklag, and had struck Ziklag, and burned it with fire, (See RSV)
1 Samuel 30:14 We made a raid on the South of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the South of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire." (See RSV)
1 Samuel 30:27 He sent it to those who were in Bethel, and to those who were in Ramoth of the South, and to those who were in Jattir, (See RSV)
2 Samuel 24:7 and came to the stronghold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites; and they went out to the south of Judah, at Beersheba. (See RSV)
2 Chronicles 28:18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland, and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth Shemesh, and Aijalon, and Gederoth, and Soco with its towns, and Timnah with its towns, Gimzo also and its towns: and they lived there. (See RSV)
Psalms 126:4 Let our fate be changed, O Lord, like the streams in the South. (See RSV)
Isaiah 21:1 The word about the waste land. As storm-winds in the South go rushing through, it comes from the waste land, from the land greatly to be feared. (See RSV)
Isaiah 30:6 The word about the Beasts of the South. Through the land of trouble and grief, the land of the she-lion and the voice of the lion, of the snake and the burning winged snake, they take their wealth on the backs of young asses, and their stores on camels, to a people in whom is no profit. (See RSV)
Jeremiah 13:19 The cities of the South are shut up, and there is none to open them: Judah is carried away captive, all of it; it is wholly carried away captive. (See RSV)
Jeremiah 17:26 They shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places around Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the lowland, and from the hill country, and from the South, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meal offerings, and frankincense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving, to the house of Yahweh. (See RSV)
Jeremiah 32:44 Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe the deeds, and seal them, and call witnesses, in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the hill country, and in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South: for I will cause their captivity to return, says Yahweh. (See RSV)
Jeremiah 33:13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks again pass under the hands of him who numbers them, says Yahweh. (See RSV)
Ezekiel 20:46 Son of man, set your face toward the south, and drop your word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the field in the South; (See RSV)
Ezekiel 20:47 and tell the forest of the South, Hear the word of Yahweh: Thus says the Lord Yahweh, Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burnt thereby. (See RSV)
Obadiah 1:19 Those of the South will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the lowland, the Philistines. They will possess the field of Ephraim, and the field of Samaria. Benjamin will possess Gilead. (See RSV)
Obadiah 1:20 The captives of this army of the children of Israel, who are among the Canaanites, will possess even to Zarephath; and the captives of Jerusalem, who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev. (See RSV)