Desert: 1. Heb. midbar, "pasture-ground;" an open tract for pasturage; a
(Joel 2:22) The "backside of the desert"
(Exodus 3:1) is
the west of the desert, the region behind a man, as the east is
the region in front. The same Hebrew word is rendered
"wildernes," and is used of the country lying between Egypt and
(Genesis 21:14,21; Exodus 4:27; 19:2; Joshua 1:4) the wilderness
of the wanderings. It was a grazing tract, where the flocks and
herds of the Israelites found pasturage during the whole of
their journey to the Promised Land. The same Hebrew word is used
also to denote the wilderness of Arabia, which in winter and
early spring supplies good pasturage to the flocks of the nomad
tribes than roam over it
(1 Kings 9:18). The wilderness of Judah
is the mountainous region along the western shore of the Dead
Sea, where David fed his father's flocks
(1 Samuel 17:28; 26:2)
Thus in both of these instances the word denotes a country
without settled inhabitants and without streams of water, but
having good pasturage for cattle; a country of wandering tribes,
as distinguished from that of a settled people
(Isaiah 35:1; 50:2)
(Jeremiah 4:11) Such, also, is the meaning of the word "wilderness"
(Matthew 3:3; 15:33; Luke 15:4)
2. The translation of the Hebrew Aribah, "an arid tract"
(Isaiah 35:1,6; 40:3; 41:19; 51:3) etc. The name Arabah is
specially applied to the deep valley of the Jordan (the Ghor of
the Arabs), which extends from the lake of Tiberias to the
Elanitic gulf. While midbar denotes properly a pastoral
region, arabah denotes a wilderness. It is also translated
"plains;" as "the plains of Jericho"
(Joshua 5:10; 2 Kings 25:5)
"the plains of Moab"
(Numbers 22:1; Deuteronomy 34:1,8) "the plains of the
(2 Samuel 17:16)
3. In the Revised Version of
(Numbers 21:20) the Hebrew word jeshimon
is properly rendered "desert," meaning the waste tracts on both
shores of the Dead Sea. This word is also rendered "desert" in
(Psalms 78:40; 106:14; Isaiah 43:19,20) It denotes a greater extent of
uncultivated country than the other words so rendered. It is
especially applied to the desert of the peninsula of Arabia
(Numbers 21:20; 23:28) the most terrible of all the deserts with which
the Israelites were acquainted. It is called "the desert" in
(Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 11:24)
4. A dry place; hence a desolation
(Psalms 9:6) desolate
(Leviticus 26:34) the
rendering of the Hebrew word horbah. It is rendered "desert"
(Psalms 102:6; Isaiah 48:21; Ezekiel 13:4) where it means the
wilderness of Sinai.
5. This word is the symbol of the Jewish church when they had
(Isaiah 40:3) Nations destitute of the knowledge of God
are called a "wilderness"
(Isaiah 32:15) midbar. It is a symbol
of temptation, solitude, and persecution
(Isaiah 27:10) midbar;
(Isaiah 33:9) arabah.