Kadesh Barnea
Located at Petra from ancient El Beidha (5 km north of Petra)
to ancient Basta (12 km SE of Petra).


See also:

Chronological History of the search for Kadesh 2000 BC - 2013 AD

The search for Kadesh

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1.      It is our conclusion that Kadesh Barnea is located Transjordan at Petra between El Beidha and Basta.

a.       El Beidha (5 km north of Petra) was a commercial tool manufacturing and mass food production center. There were no residential dwellings in the final occupation Phase C which was built by Moses in 1444 BC then abandoned 38 years later in 1406 BC.

b.      Basta (12 km SE of Petra) was a mass production meat packing plant and crop storage center. An massive assemblage of 100,000 kosher bones were excavated on the production floors. Like Beidha, Basta was built by Moses then abandoned.

2.      Israel departs from Sinai for promised land after spending 11 months, 5 days at Sinai. Since they left on the 14th day of the first month, this means they had been traveling one year, one month and one week, since leaving Egypt. (57 weeks)

a.       Before the Exodus, Kadesh Barnea was known to the Patriarchs as En-mishpat: "and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar." Genesis 14:6-7. During the time of Abraham, Kadesh had an active spring and well known spring. This is proven from the etymology of the name: [strongs: 5880] AV translates as En-mishpat = literally: "spring of judgment". From Gen 14:6-7 we learn that during the time of Abraham, (500 years before the exodus) the Horites, Amalekites, Amorites, Mt. Seir and Mt. Paran are all nearby the location of Kadesh Barnea.

b.      So they left Sinai on 1:1:1! (year:month:week) They navigated about 20 stops over a period of between 10.5 and 11 months between Sinai and Kadesh Barnea.

c.       They arrived at Kadesh Barnea in the first of the month of the third year or exactly 24 months after leaving Egypt. (Numbers 20:1)

d.      They celebrated their second Passover at Sinai, then leave almost immediately afterwards for Kadesh. They arrived at Kadesh about 11 months later and immediately celebrated their third Passover.

e.      Therefore their arrival at Kadesh was the end of the second year and was marked by their third Passover. They spend 38 continuous years at Kadesh Barnea (they do not leave and come back), then depart for the Jordan in the 40th year.

f.        Israel spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh. They arrived in the first month of the third year after leaving Egypt. This is exactly two years or 24 months after leaving Egypt.


a.       Although up to 25 different locations have been proposed for Kadesh Barnea, almost no one today questions that Kadesh is located at Ein el Qudeirat. We not only question this, we find that even suggesting Kadesh at Ein el Qudeirat creates great contradiction in scripture.  Historically, before 1881 AD the almost unanimous opinion was that Kadesh Barnea was located transjordan east of the Arabah valley.

b.      The current choice for Kadesh Barnea at Ein el Qudeirat, located south east of Beer Sheba is the universal choice found on virtually all Bible maps since 1916 AD. Qudeirat is located 27 km east of the Wadi Al-Arish, which is the Biblical border between Egypt and Israel. This means Qudeirat is well within the promised land and for that reason alone, must be rejected as the location of Kadesh Barnea.

c.       Before this, Ein el Qedeis, located 10 KM south east of Ein el Qudeirat, was the choice between 1881-1916AD.

d.      In 1841 AD Robinson believed that Ein El Weibeh was the location about 38 km NW of Petra.

e.      See also this document that chronological history of the search for Kadesh 2000 BC - 2013 AD


A. Scripture Places Kadesh at Petra:

1.      The current location of Kadesh Barnea IN YOUR BIBLE is 27 km inside the promised land.

a.       This is your personal wake-up call. Study the Biblical borders of Israel, then realize that any proposed location for Kadesh or Mt. Sinai must be outside the clearly stated boundaries of Israel.
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2.      We have no idea how Christians who accept the inspiration of the Bible as God's word, can even consider Ein el Qudeirat as the location of Kadesh. We have concluded that there are two key factors why this has happened.

a.       First is due to the fact that Qudeirat is located 5 KM west of the modern border of Israel determined in 1947 AD. It has never dawned on them that the modern border is 27 KM east of the Biblical border of Israel. However when this is pointed out, a few might wonder about it, but since virtually every Bible map since 1916 AD has placed Kadesh at Qudeirat, who are they to question the authorities who created the map in the back of their Bible.

b.      Second: Archeologists who simply do not believe the Bible as inspired. The vast majority of archeologists in the world simply reject all the Bible stories as myth and untrue. This is even true for Israeli national Archeologists who teach in the universities inside Israel today! These faithless archeologists see no problem whatsoever in choosing a location for Kadesh deep inside the promised land at Qudeirat or a location for Mt. Sinai at Mt. Karkom. The fact this directly contradicts the Bible is not a problem since they do not believe the Bible anyway. Christians assume that if all the "experts" who placed Kadesh at Qudeirat on the map in the back of their Bible, had good reason for doing this.

3.      Good Bible students have been confused by the expression, "the border goes up south of Kadesh Barnea". (Numbers 34:3-5; Joshua 15:1-4)

a.       This is one reason why Christians have thought it ok to include Kadesh within the promised land. If the southern border "goes up south of Kadesh", then obviously Kadesh is north of the border... and inside Judah.

b.      But this is completely wrong and not what the Bible is saying.

c.       This critical error is discussed in this study of the Biblical borders of Israel. If you look at our map above, you can see that the border indeed changes direction and "goes up south of Kadesh to meet the Brook of Egypt".

d.      This proves once and for all, that Kadesh is located Transjordan. Petra fits perfectly!

4.      Moses was forbidden to enter the promises land, but allowed to view it at Mt. Nebo. Yet Mt. Nebo later became part of the promised land as the territory of the tribe of Reuban. Further, we have the general promise to Abraham in Gen 15:18 to possess the land from the Wadi al-Arish to the Euphrates river. During the time of Solomon Mt. Nebo was part of the promised land. Yet even Kadesh at Petra was inside the land controlled by Israel under Solomon since he conquered the Edomites. The answer is simple to all this.

a.       First, Rueben asked for the land where Mt. Nebo was even though it was not originally part of the promised land and it was granted by way of concession and added to the promised land. Numbers 32:5; Joshua 22:25-27 clearly show that the tribe of Reuben set up the second replica altar on the east side of the Jordan so that later generations had proof that the land was indeed part of the promised land.

b.      Second, We know that the territory of Edom and Moab was specifically stated to not be part of the promised land. Israel was told when they passed through the lands of Edom and Moab to remember that God had given this land to them not Israel and to not interfere with them on their journey from Kadesh to cross the Jordan.


B. Ancient Literary Sources who affirm Kadesh is at Petra:

“It is moreover one of the few facts localized by anything like an authentic tradition,-in this case preserved by Josephus, the Talmudists, Eusebius, and Jerome, --that Kadesh was either identical, or closely connected with Petra.” (Sinai and Palestine, in connection with their history, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, 1856 AD, p84-99)

1.      110 AD: Josephus: Aaron died on Mt. Hor at Petra:

    1. 110 AD: Josephus stated that the burial place of Aaron was at Petra.
    2. "Then it was that Miriam, the sister of Moses, came to her end, having completed her fortieth year since she left Egypt, on the first day of the lunar month Xanthicus. They then made a public funeral for her, at a great expense. She was buried upon a certain mountain, which they call Sin; and when they had mourned for her thirty days ... Now when this purification, which their leader made upon the mourning for his sister, as it has been now described, was over, he caused the army to remove and to march through the wilderness and through Arabia; and when he came to a place which the Arabians esteem their metropolis, which was formerly called Arce, but has now the name of Petra, at this place, which was encompassed with high mountains, Aaron went up one of them in the sight of the whole army, Moses having before told him that he was to die, for this place was over against them." (Josephus, Antiquities 4.82-83)

2.      325 AD: Eusebius: Kadesh and Mt. Hor are at Petra:

    1. In 325 AD Eusebius (and Jerome in 400 AD) wrote the Onomasticon, which is a "dictionary of places".
    2. The Onomasticon says that in their day, you could still see the rock Moses struck at Kadesh and the tomb of Aaron were at Petra.
    3. At Petra, the 1 km long Siq that the water was channeled down is called, the "wadi of Moses" according to ancient tradition.
    4. Eusebius writes: "Kadesh Barnea (or Cades Barnea): "Kadea Barne. The desert which extends to (the city of) Petra a city of Arabia. There Mariam went up and died, and there the doubting Moses struck the rock to give water to the thirsty people. The tomb of Mariam herself is pointed out there even now. There also Chodollagomor beat the chiefs of the Amalakites." (Eusebius, Onomasticon, round brackets are Eusebius') Footnote #: 580. Kadēa Barnē. Numbers 32:8; K. 112:8; L. 270:4. Textual variant city of Palestinē (Greek) instead of Arabia. This reflects again the uncertainty of editorial additions and of the use of Arabia in the Onomasticon (K. 110:27). Latin combines K. 112:7 and K. 112:8. Some confusion in order of this and the next three entries. A summary of biblical information from Numbers 21:1, 11; Numbers 27:14 and Genesis 14:7. A tomb tradition is here. No location is given other than near Petra (K. 142:7). Procopius repeats the entry in 332D and 1021D. It also is reaffirmed by Jerome in Commentary on Ezekiel 38:23(cf. K. 46:26). In Interpretation of Hebrew Names "Cades, holy or change" (63); "Cades, alteration or holy" (80); "Cadesbarne, selected change or changeableness" (80). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    5. Eusebius writes: "Mt Hor: ōr. Mountain on which Aaron died near the city of Petra. There is now pointed out the rock which flowed for Moses (which Moses struck and gave water to the people)." Footnote #: 979. ōr. Numbers 20:22, 28; K. 176:7; L. 291:88. Mt. near Petra (K. 142:7). Cf. K. 126:19 and K. 46:14 for Aaron's death. See K. 150:23 for Mt. Seir. Josephus Antiquities IV, 4, 7 tells of Aaron's death up on the mountain range that encloses Petra. In Interpretation of Hebrew Names "Or, passionate" (77) and "Or, light" (83). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    6. Eusebius writes: "Kadēs. Where the spring "of judgment" was. Footnote #: 579. Kadēs. Genesis 14:7; K. 112:7; L. 269:3. Simple biblical notation. In Hebrew Questions Jerome says "Cades is a place near Petra called the spring of judgment where God judged the people". (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    7. Eusebius writes: "Bēroth. "Of the sons of Jakeim (Iacim)." Place in the desert where Aaron died. It is pointed out (still today) ten miles from Petra on the summit of the mountain." (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    8. Eusebius writes: "Beroth. "Of the sons of Jakeim (Iacim)." Place in the desert where Aaron died. It is pointed out (still today) ten miles from Petra on the summit of the mountain." (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    9. Eusebius writes: "Barnea (same as Kadesh Barnea): "Barne: This is Cades Barne, on the desert which extends up to the city of Petra." (Eusebius, Onomasticon, round brackets are Eusebius') Footnote #: 213. Barnē. Joshua 10:41; K. 46:26; L. 247:74. Identified with the desert stretching south of Petra (K. 142:7) and more frequently Kadēs Barnē (K. 112:8). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    10. Eusebius writes: "Petra. City in the land of Edom in Arabia which is called Iechthoel. This is also called Rekem by the Assyrians (Syrians). Footnote #: 762. Petra. Judges 1:36; K. 142:7; L. 279:71. No letter division in the Vatican Greek manuscript here. Procopius 1048B has Petra in Idumala (K. 102:23). On Tabula Peutinger it is 48 miles south of Theman (K. 96:18). It is an important reference for the Onomasticon and all the Roman road systems. It is also called Rekem (K. 144:7 and K. 36:13). Mt. Hor (K. 176:7) is nearby. The Nabatean influence lasted into the Roman period of the Onomasticon. Petra was one of the Nabatean cities given autonomy about 106 A.D. with the establishment of the Roman Province of Arabia. It was a great city in the 3rd and 4th centuries. The Christians of Petra were persecuted by Diocletian. (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    11. Eusebius writes: "Rekem. It is also Petra, city of Arabia, "whose ruler Rocom the children of Israel killed. It is said he was also king of Madiam." Footnote #: 773. Rekem. Numbers 31:8; K. 144:7; L. 280:94. Identity and summary of biblical information (Joshua 13:21; Numbers 31:8; cf. K. 142:7 and K.36:13, for Petra, named Rekim by Josephus). In Interpretation of Hebrew Names "Recem, variety or painting". (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    12. Notice that Eusebius sees two different Cades, but the true Cades (or Kadesh Barnea) is next to the wilderness of Paran, also known as the desert of the Saracens: "Gerara. The Geraritike is now called after this, (the region) beyond the Daroma. Twenty-five miles south of Eleutheropolis. It is the old southern boundary of the Chanaanites and a royal city of the Philistines (metropolis of Palestine). It is located, as Scripture affirms, "between Cades and Sur" (i.e., between) two deserts. The one adjoins Egypt whence the people came having come through the (straits of the) Red Sea. The other (true) Cades extends up to the desert of the Saracens." (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD) Of course the Bible does not say that Gerar is between Kadesh Barnea and Shur, but that Abraham lived there, then moved and sojourned near Gerar. Eusebius and the Madaba map correctly place Gerar, but confuse its position in relation to Kadesh and Shur. Even today people misread Gen 20:2 the same way Eusebius did.
    13. Eusebius writes: "Asasan Thamar (Asasonthamar). Where the Amorrites dwelled whom Chodollagomor destroyed is located near the wilderness of Cades. It is said there is a village Tharmara (a fort Thamara) one day journey from Mapsis on the road from Hebron to Ailam. [Elat on the Red Sea, see Ailam] Today there is a garrison (Roman fort) of soldiers there." Footnote #: 8: Asasan Thamar (Asasonthamar). Genesis 14:7; K. 8:6; L. 234:84. On the Madaba Map there is a Thamara located as suggested by Eusebius here. Tabula Peutinger has a Thamaro 52 or 53 miles from Jerusalem while Ptolemy's list (V, 15, 5f) has a Thamaro about 55 miles distant. The Notitia Dignitatum (74:40) has a Tarba and (74:46) a Thamarra both of which have a garrison. Alt found a fort at Qasr el Juheiniye and he is followed by many locating the fort there and the village at 'ain el 'Arus. Aharoni more recently (TEJ, 1963, p.30ff) suggests 'Ain Husb which is about a day's walk (32 km) from Kurnub which is generally identified with Mapsis (cf. also Avi-Yonah) and has a large Roman fort as well as Nabatean and Iron II sherds. The Madaba Map using Jerome's spelling has located properly Mampsis. Many Nabatean, Roman-Byzantine levels excavated at Kuroub. It shows a revival in the fourth century A.D. as also does Oboda (Avdat, 'Abda, and K. 176:9).This may be indicated by "village" in Greek and "oppidum" in Latin (cf. K. 10:25). II Chronicles 20:2 identified Thamar with En Gedi or at least locates it in the district of En Gedi (86:16). Jerome in Hebrew Questions says, "his city which we now call Engaddi, is rich in balsam and palms since Asason Thamar translated into our language is city of the palms'" (18) (cf. Judges 1: 16, Ezekiel 47: 29). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    14. Eusebius writes: "Ailam (Ailath). Is situated at the extremity of Palestine between the southern desert and the Red Sea where cargo was transported by ship from both Egypt and India. A detachment of the Tenth Roman Legion is stationed there. Properly called Aila today (it was formerly pronounced Ailath) from whence the ancient people the Ailamites whose king was Chodollagomor [who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles]. Another Ailam of the foreigners (of Palestine) is noted in Kings." Footnote #: 6: Ailam (Ailath). Genesis 14:1; K.6:17; L. 234:75. In the Vulgate we find Ailath, Elath, and Aila for this same site. Palestine is the southern part of Syria. This word is missing in the Vatican Manuscript. Technically the southern limits of the Onomasticon should be Ailam (Ailath). The ruins are inland about one mile from Aqabah but not as far inland as Tell el Kbeleifah which is probably the older Ezion Geber (K. 36:l, cf. K. 34:23, 62:13, Josephus Antiquities, IX, 12, 1). It was the end of the road going north to Damascus and the terminus of the overland road west to the Mediterranean. In Jerome's time it was a very busy port (Vita Hilariaris, 18, and cf. Commentary on Ezekiel 47:18). Eusebius does not indicate its size but it may be inferred that it was a polis. A bishop was present at Nicea. Eusebius uses some army source and the text is useful for noting the deployment of the Roman legion. The Tenth is located here. The Notitia Dignitatum (73:18f.) verifies this entry. The Tabula Peutinger, 820 has a Haila 83 miles from Petra and 150 miles southeast of Gaza which fits this site at el 'aqaba. The city in II Samuel 10:16 is in northeast Transjordan. The Syriac text notes it is a city of the Philistines. The Greek allophulos usually means Philistines but once or twice we cannot be positive, so in this present translation the general term "foreigners" has been preferred, especially when Jerome does not have Filistine. He has Filistine in K. 7:15, K. 21:2, K. 3:25, K. 119:3 but more often uses transliteration allofylorum (see Appendix I). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    15. The Onomasticon references two "Kades": One near Gerar and but the "true Cades" at Petra. Eusebius places Arad near the Desert of Kadesh Barnea, but the Madaba map places Arad between Beersheba and Egypt rather than between Beersheba and the Dead sea. However the Madaba map is not to scale and has huge distortions of distance and relative size. "Arad. City of the Amorrites near the desert of Cades. There is now (shown) a village four miles from Malaatha, and twenty from Hebron. Tribe of Juda." (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    16. There is one possible reference to the "Wilderness of Kadesh" and this is also marked on the Madaba Map. The words on the Madaba map "desert of" are likely a reference to either the Arabah Valley or possibly the "Desert of Cades/Kadesh" frequently referenced by Eusebius in his Onomasticon. The Arabah valley is easy to distinguish on a visual basis, since it would be to the right of the Dead Sea and above the three mountain ranges that Mampsis is located in the middle of. Perhaps Eusebius and the Madaba map were inspired by this verse to located the Desert of Kadesh: "The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh." Psalm 29:8

3.      400 AD: Jerome: En-mishpat, Kadesh, Spring of Judgement is at Petra: Gen 14:7

    1. "Gen 14:7: And they returned and came to the fountain of judgement, that is, to Cades. Because Cades was so named later on, it is specificied by way of anticipation; and it refers to a place near Petra, which is called 'The Fountain of Judgement', because God judged the people there" (Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions on Genesis, translated by C. T. R. Hayward, p 46, Gen 14:7, 1995 AD)
    2. "Kadēs. Where the spring "of judgment" was. Footnote #: 579. Kadēs. Genesis 14:7; K. 112:7; L. 269:3. Simple biblical notation. In Hebrew Questions Jerome says "Cades is a place near Petra called the spring of judgment where God judged the people". (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)
    3. "No location [for Kadesh Barnea] is given other than near Petra (K. 142:7). Procopius repeats the entry in 332D and 1021D. It also is reaffirmed by Jerome in Commentary on Ezekiel 38:23(cf. K. 46:26). In Interpretation of Hebrew Names "Cades, holy or change" (63); "Cades, alteration or holy" (80); "Cadesbarne, selected change or changeableness" (80). (The Onomasticon, Eusebius, 325AD)


C. Etymology of Kadesh Barnea, Sela, Joktheel, Petra:

  1. "Kadesh-Barnea" as a compound word, is used 10 times. However the place is never referred to as "Barnea" exclusively without Kadesh. The bible refers to the place as "Kadesh" 18 times alone, without "Barnea.
  2. "Barnea" may mean "place of wandering in the desert". So Kadesh Barnea means: The Kadesh where they wandered in the wilderness. However, Smiths Dictionary in 1884 AD said: "Barnea means, desert of wandering". Eastons said this in 1897 AD: "Kadesh: holy, or Kadesh-Barnea, sacred desert of wandering" (Easton's Bible dictionary, 1897 AD) This is not certain and many draw a blank for "Barnea" and say it has no direct meaning and is likely a physical locator or simple name that is attached to Kadesh. No modern dictionaries suggest barnea = wilderness/desert wandering.
  3. Kadesh means "holy" and is one of many words that are derived from the parent word that is most commonly translated "holy":
    "qades: be hallowed, holy, sanctified; to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate." (TWOT)
    "Kadesh = "holy"." (Strongs enhanced)
    "Qadesh (873d); from the same as 6944; "sacred,"" (NASB Hebrew-Aramaic dictionary)
  4. The real question is WHY was the place called Kadesh and when. At the time of Abraham, Kadesh was known as "En-mishpat" Gen 14:7. Kadesh was known at the "Spring of Judgement" (En-mishpat). Notice that that the writer of Genesis (perhaps Moses) adds the parenthetical thought: "(that is, Kadesh)". This means that it was not called Kadesh in the time of Abraham. Two additional references to Kadesh at the time of Abraham are: Genesis 16:14; 20:1. The writer probably just substitutes for the Hebrews at Moses' time, Kadesh in the place of En-mishpat. There are other examples in Genesis of places that were called names that did not exist when the story is being told. The word "Jordan" in Genesis 13:10, refers to the Jordan river and valley. Yet this river was not called Jordan until after the time of Joshua. We can prove this because the word Jordan literally means: "down from Dan" or that which flows downhill from the territory of the tribe of Dan. "its name Jord (i.e. Yored, flowing down from), Dan (Bechoroth, fol. 55a); or the "stream of Dan" (Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850). Obviously if the modern name of the Jordan river owes its origin to the tribe of Dan, it was not called this before they actually began to occupy the land under Joshua in 1406 BC. Yet Genesis applies this name, first used in 1406 BC to events that took place in 2000 BC. The same is true with applying the name "Kadesh" to time of Abraham, even though it was really called, En-mishpat in Abraham's day and Abraham never heard the place called Kadesh.
  5. So En-mishpat became known as Kadesh Barnea as Israel lived their 38 years. they did not go to a place called Kadesh Barnea, they only named it Kadesh AFTER they have lived there.
  6. Why did they call it Kadesh? First is the connection with the dead. From the time of Joseph, who demanded be carried 500 years after he was mummified and buried in Shechem, down to the present day, Jews place great holiness on their dead.
  7. 1.5 million Hebrews died at "Kadesh" which was called holy because it was where the entire nation was buried after 38 years in the wilderness: "your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. 'Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 'Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. 'But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 'Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. 'According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. 'I, the Lord, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.' "" Numbers 14:29-35 (see also: Num 26:64-65; Deut 1:34-35; Psalm 106:26; 1 Cor 10:5)
  8. Today, in modern Judaism, the "Burial Society" is called the "Chevra Kaddisha" (Chevra = society; Kaddisha = holy). Jews have always place extreme importance on burial. Modern communities of Jews in Canada and the USA have been known to buy land for a cemetery, before they buy land for a synagogue. It seems odd that they would call their "undertakers" and "funeral homes" the "holy society". Why would they not call it the "burial society". There is a word in Hebrew for burial, but they chose the word "holy" instead. This odd choice of words is an ancient relic tradition that dates back to the exodus and the 38 years they spent at "Kadesh Barnea" (holy in the wilderness). Why would they call the place holy (kadesh)? Because the Jews spent 38 years there and 1.5 million Jews died and where buried at Kadesh. This all fits nicely with our view that Kadesh Barnea was located at or near Petra. Archeologists refer to Petra as "the city of the dead" "the city of tombs". We believe the time the Hebrews spent at Kadesh, and the burial of the dead at that location, is where modern Jews trace their tradition of calling their undertakers a "Burial Society" or in Hebrew: "Chevra Kaddisha" (holy society).
  9. It is very interesting that after the conquest, the name "Kadesh Barnea" falls into disuse. At the same time the term Sela is used for the very first time. The transition point is the death of Joshua. While Joshua lived the place Israel spent 38 years in the wilderness was called "Kadesh Barnea". After the lands was divided up into the twelve tribes, the same place started to be called Sela.
  10. Kadesh was abandoned by Israel in 1406 BC. It was immediately reinhabited by the Edomites who renamed Kadesh "Sela". Sela means "Rock".
  11. When King Amaziah of Judah faught the Edomites he captured Sela and renamed it "Joktheel". (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chron 25:11-12) Altough there was another town in the Negev of Judah called, Joktheel, the two are different places. (Joshua 15:38) Joktheel at Kadesh/Sela was outside the promised land and was first called Joktheel by Amaziah. The Joktheel in Judah existed at the time of Joshua. Perhaps Amaziah was making some connection with the two locations for is own reasons.
  12. About 350 BC, the Nabataeans named the place Petra. It is they who are responsible for carving all the buildings into the multi-coloured rock. When the Nabataeans began to occupy Petra, they were aware of its historical use as encountered the place as a burial city between 1446 - 1406 BC. Perhaps this tradition had continued. If we are going to find remnants of the 38 year Hebrew stay at Petra, the place to look is in the place the "Wadi of Moses" washes into the Arabah Valley. The many flash floods would wash evidence of Hebrew occupation downstream.
  13. In modern times, Petra was discovered by John Lewis Burckhardt in 1812 AD. "The Anglo-Swiss geographer and traveler John Lewis Burckhardt 'rediscovered' Petra on 22 August 1812, and recognized its ruins as those of the ancient Nabataean capital city." (Petra: a guide to the capital of the Nabataeans, Rami G. Khouri, 1986, p11-27, p41-44)
  14. While Canadians defeated the Americans in the war of 1812, Kadesh Barnea was quietly rediscovered the same year. Now, 200 years after John Lewis Burckhardt, discovered Petra in 1812 AD, native Canadian Steve Rudd is bringing to light to the true location of Kadesh Barnea at Petra.


D. 38 continuous years at Kadesh: Deut: 1:46; 2:14

  1. It is clear that Israel spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh.
  2. Some however, believe came to Kadesh for a short time but then left and wandered around for 38 years in the wilderness, then come back to Kadesh a second time for a short time. This is called the "two stops at Kadesh view".
  3. The list of Exodus stops in Num 33 traces their path from Goshen to the banks of the Jordan River. In this list, they came to Kadesh only once, then left to cross the Jordan. If they left Kadesh, and wandered for 38 years elsewhere and then returned, there is a complete silence in scripture about this. It is more logical to have them stay at Kadesh and not leave for the duration of the 38 years, just as Num 33 indicates.
  4. Three passages in Deuteronomy tell us they spent 38 continuous years at Kadesh. These three passages are a logical unit of thought and organization. The words of these three verses were spoken by Moses while standing on the southern bank of the Zered river. As they begin their final approach to the promise land, He contrasts the 40 years it actually took, with the fact it should have taken only 11 days: "It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea." Deuteronomy 1:2. Moses tells us they spent most of their time at Kadesh: "So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there." Deuteronomy 1:46 Finally, Moses tells them they spent 38 years at Kadesh: "Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them." Deuteronomy 2:14. In other words, they spent 38 long and unnecessary years parked at Kadesh, when they could have entered the promised land 11 days after leaving Mt. Sinai!
  5. The Onomasticon (Eusebius 325 AD) listed two different Kadeshes. (Cades) He believe there were actually two different places called Kadesh and openly discussed them. This, of course was false, but the error creeped into the minds of later mappers.
  6. Historical maps from the 16th century, seemed to favor the "two stops at Kadesh view", but they also had two sets of Kadesh Barnea and two Petra on their maps! It seems they got this idea from the Onomasticon. They always viewed Kadesh as being directly beside Petra, but they did not know for certain where they were located. The location of the first set of Kadesh/Petra was near stop 26. The second set was at a completely different location at stop 33. Take a look at this map by Abraham Ortelius 1572 AD, for one of many a examples. But this two stops at two different Kadeshes in two different locations. It is not really the "two stop view" being proposed recently.
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  7. In 542 AD. the Madaba map is an example of placing the same location twice because they were not sure of the location: The Madaba map has two sets of: Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. This was because the Jews had created a second location in order to discredit the Samaritan's claim to the ancient true location. Today we can know for certain that the Samaritan location was correct. But at the time the Madaba map was created, some confusion existed in determining who was right, so they put both locations on the map!
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  8. Some misuse Numbers 20:1 as evidence that Israel came to Kadesh, but then left to wandered somewhere else for 38 years, then returned in year forty: "In the first month all the people of Israel arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried." Many commentators mistakenly believe this was the 40th year, but they are wrong. The verse tells us they arrived at Kadesh in the first month, but does not tell us the year! It does not say, "the first month in the 40th year". Since Israel left Sinai in the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt (14 months), this means they arrived at Kadesh in the first month of the third year after leaving Egypt or 24 months. See Exodus route calendar for more details.
  9. The account of their travel from Num 10:11-12 down to Numbers 12:16 follows the Numbers 33 list. However starting in Num 13, we skip about 18 stops and go directly to Kadesh in the narration. This kind of narration style thing is typical in both the Old and New Testament. In fact the statement that "the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:12) is an summary verse of larger pattern of travel to Kadesh. When it says, the cloud settled down in Paran, that means at Kadesh. The section that follows discusses a few important things that happened before Kadesh (grumbling for meat at Taberah/Kibroth-hattaavah [ch 11]; Miriam's and Aaron's challenge to Moses Egyptian wife at Hazeroth [ch 12]) and events that happened at Kadesh: spying out the land; The man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath; Koran's rebellion, death of Miriam, Moses striking the rock, Moses requests the kings of Edom and Moab for passage to get to the Jordan.) As we can see, these events spanned 38 years. They came to Kadesh once, then they left for the Jordan.
  10. The key is to view the entire section between Num 12:16 - 20:1 as an overview of the major events of the entire 38 years at Kadesh. It begins in 12:16 where they jump from Hazeroth forward 18 stops to Kadesh. This overview ends at 20:1, where it recounts they came to Kadesh in the first month after leaving Sinai (11 months later).
  11. Some use the passages that they "in the wilderness" as proof they were not at Kadesh. But Kadesh was in three wildernesses: Zin, Paran and the wilderness of Kadesh: "The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh." Psalm 29:8. So when they were at Kadesh, this was the wilderness. The word, "Barnea" actually means "place of wandering in the desert". (see above)


E. Bible events that occurred at Kadesh Barnea

  1. In 2000 BC, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam captured En-mishpat (Kadesh-barnea): Gen 14:7
  2. Miriam died and was buried: Num 20:1
  3. Moses strikes the rock, no water: (Meribah or Meribath-kadesh): Num 20:1-5 Ez 47:19; 48:28 Here is a detailed study about the water Moses provided by miracle at Sinai and Kadesh.
  4. Korah's rebellion where the earth split open: Num 16:31-34
  5. Spies were sent out: Joshua 14:7; Num 13:26 then disobeyed God by trying to enter the promised land when God said they were going to spend 38 years more in the wilderness: Num 14:34,42.
  6. Moses asked Edom permission to pass through the land: Num 20:14
  7. They spent 38 years in Kadesh: ""So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there." Deuteronomy 1:46 "Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years." Deuteronomy 2:14. "So Israel remained at Kadesh." Judges 11:17
  8. Kadesh was one huge grave yard: 1.5 million Hebrews died at Kadesh, everyone over the age of 20: Numbers 14:29-35 (see also: Num 26:64-65; Deut 1:34-35; Psalm 106:26; 1 Cor 10:5)
  9. Amaziah recaptures Kadesh (Sela at the time) and renames it Joktheel. 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chron 25:11-12


F. Kadesh Barnea and Petra in the Bible:

  1. "Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar." Genesis 14:7
  2. "Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered." Genesis 16:14
  3. " Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar." Genesis 20:1
  4. "they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land." Numbers 13:26
  5. " Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there." Numbers 20:1
  6. "From Kadesh Moses then sent messengers to the king of Edom: "Thus your brother Israel has said, 'You know all the hardship that has befallen us;" Numbers 20:14
  7. "'But when we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out from Egypt; now behold, we are at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory." Numbers 20:16
  8. "Now when they set out from Kadesh, the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor." Numbers 20:22
  9. "for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water." (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)" Numbers 27:14
  10. ""This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land." Numbers 32:8
  11. "They journeyed from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh." Numbers 33:36
  12. "They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom." Numbers 33:37
  13. "'Then your border shall turn direction from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim and continue to Zin, and its termination shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea; and it shall reach Hazaraddar and continue to Azmon." Numbers 34:4
  14. "It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea." Deuteronomy 1:2
  15. ""Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea." Deuteronomy 1:19
  16. ""So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there." Deuteronomy 1:46
  17. ""Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them." Deuteronomy 2:14
  18. ""When the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, 'Go up and possess the land which I have given you,' then you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; you neither believed Him nor listened to His voice." Deuteronomy 9:23
  19. "because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel." Deuteronomy 32:51
  20. "Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon." Joshua 10:41
  21. "Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea." Joshua 14:6
  22. ""I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart." Joshua 14:7
  23. "Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka." Joshua 15:3
  24. "The border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela (Petra) and upward." Judges 1:36
  25. "'For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh," Judges 11:16
  26. "then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, "Please let us pass through your land," but the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh." Judges 11:17
  27. "The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh." Psalm 29:8
  28. "He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000 and took Sela (Petra) by war, and named it Joktheel to this day. " 2 Kings 14:7
  29. ""The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-Kadesh, to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south." Ezekiel 47:19
  30. ""And beside the border of Gad, at the south side toward the south, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribath-Kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, to the Great Sea." Ezekiel 48:28
  31. "Send the tribute lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela (Petra) by way of the wilderness to the mountain of the daughter of Zion. " Isaiah 16:1
  32. "Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voices, The settlements where Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of Sela sing aloud, Let them shout for joy from the tops of the mountains." Isaiah 42:11


G. The Search for Kadesh Barnea must satisfy these pre-requisites:

  1. Must be outside the Biblical borders of the promised land. Israel did not spend 38 years "in the wilderness" in the promised land. Review this page: Excluded Exodus Routes: Nuweiba Beech, Bitter lakes, Gulf of Suez, Mt. Musa, Mt. Karkom, Ein el-Qudeirat. Remember that Ein el Qudeirat and Ein El Weibeh were not only within the formal stated boundaries of the promised land, but were also in the Negev. These alone disqualifies them as Kadesh and start looking in the right places.
  2. Kadesh Barnea, wilderness of Paran and Wilderness of Zin must be outside all boundaries of Israel, including the Negev. No Bible passage says that Kadesh Barnea, Paran or Zin were ever part is Israel or located in the Negev, or the western edge of the Arabah.
  3. From a careful study of the exodus route, we can determine that the general order of places is as follows: Starting at the Dead Sea moving south, you first hit the ascent of scorpions and the wilderness of Zin, then Kadesh, then Mt. Hor. Since Mt. Hor was located 3 miles south west of Petra, this places Kadesh at or just north of Petra, likely on the mountainous plateau, rather than in the Arabah valley below the cliffs. See southern border of Judah for details.
  4. Kadesh Barnea was on the border of Edom: Num 20:16. Archeology has proven the fact that Edom was historically transjordan (east of the Arabah) until they first moved into Judean territory after the Babylonian captivity. This means that before 586 BC Edom's territory was always transjordan. Ein el Qudeirat is no where near the border of Edom, which disqualifies it as Kadesh. Modern Bible maps make a grave error of locating Edom well into the Negev, not because of archeological evidence, but because they know the border of Edom was beside Kadesh. In a spectacular display of circular reasoning these maps bring the border of Edom right beside Ein el Qudeirat, where they wrongly believe Kadesh is located.
  5. There should be archeological evidence of Hebrew presence in 1406 BC at the location of Kadesh. Archeology has proven that Ein el Qudeirat was not occupied until 1000 BC, which disqualifies it as Kadesh and we need to keep looking. Ein el Qudeirat is a military fortification outpost built by David or Solomon on the border of Egypt (Wady El Arish)
  6. Kadesh Barnea was at the Wilderness of Zin: Gen. 14:7; Num. 13:3-26; 14:29-33; 20:1; 27:14
  7. The apocrypha says Kades (Kadesh Barnea) is in a general sequence that starts transjordan south past Kadesh, then over the Wady El Arish (river of Egypt) then to Egypt proper: "And to all that were in Samaria and the cities thereof, and beyond Jordan unto Jerusalem, and Betane, and Chellus, and Kades, and the river of Egypt [Wady El Arish], and Taphnes, and Ramesse, and all the land of Gesem," Judith 1:9


H. The Spring at Kadesh Barnea:

  1. There are two places where Israel "contended" (Meribah or Meribath) with God and Moses struck the rock to bring water out miraculously: At Mt. Sinai and Kadesh.
  2. At Petra, the 1 km long Siq that the water was channeled down is called, the "wadi of Moses" according to ancient tradition. Eusebius writes in 325 AD: "Mt Hor: or. Mountain on which Aaron died near the city of Petra. There is now pointed out the rock which flowed for Moses (which Moses struck and gave water to the people)." (The Onomasticon and the Exodus route. by Eusebius, 325AD)
  3. Here is a detailed study about the water Moses provided by miracle at Sinai and Kadesh.



  1. Based upon the Bible and ancient literary sources, Kadesh Barnea must be located Transjordan in modern Jordan south of the Salt Sea at or near Petra. The Nabateans inherited and continued the ancient Hebrew tradition of Kadesh Barnea as a burial city and carved the modern tombs and the famous “Treasury” we see today.
  2. Based upon history, geography and archeology , Kadesh Barnea is most likely located at  Petra from ancient El Beidha located 5 km north of Petra, to Basta located 12 km SE of Petra.


By Steve Rudd 2006. 2019 AD: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.


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