Kadesh-barnea The search for this interesting locality, and the controversy concerning its site, still continue. The most recent and enterprising explorer is H. Clay Trumbull, D.D., editor of the Sunday-School Times, who has written an elaborate and magnificent work on the subject (Kadesh-Barnea, its Importance and Probable Site, etc., New York, 1884, 8vo). After great pains, while on a trip through the Sinaitic desert, he succeeded in reaching 'Ain Kadeis, which, in his map of the region, accompanying his volume, he locates fifty-five miles west by north of Petra, and seventy-five north-east of the castle of Nukl. His description of the spot is as follows (page 272).
"It was a marvelous sight! Out from the barren and desolate stretch of the burning desert-waste, we had come with magical suddenness into an oasis of verdure and beauty, unlooked for and hardly conceivable in such a region. A carpet of grass covered the ground. Fig-trees, laden with fruit nearly ripe enough for eating, were along the shelter of the southern hillside. Shrubs and flowers showed themselves in variety and profusion. Running water gurgled under the waving grass. We had seen nothing like it since leaving Wady Feiran; nor was it equalled in loveliness of scene by any single bit of landscape, of like extent, even there.
"Standing out from the earth-covered limestone hills at the north- eastern sweep of this picturesque recess was to be seen the 'large single mass, or a small hill, of solid rock,' which Rowlands looked at as the cliff (sela) smitten by Moses, to cause it to 'give forth his water,' when its flowing stream had been exhausted. From underneath this ragged spur of the north-easterly mountain range issued the now abundant stream.
"A circular wall, stoned up from the bottom with timeworn limestone blocks, was the first receptacle of the water. A marble watering-trough was near this wellbetter finished than the troughs at Beersheba, but of like primitive workmanship. The mouth of this well was only about three feet across it, and the water came to within three or four feet of the top. A little distance westerly from this well, and down the slope, was a second well, stoned up much like the first, but of greater diameter; and here again was a marble watering-trough. A basin or pool of water, larger than either of the wells, but not stoned up like them, was seemingly the principal watering-place. It was a short distance south-westerly from the second well, and it looked as if it and the two wells might be supplied from the same subterranean source — the springs under the rock. Around the margin of the pool, as also around the stoned walls, camel and goat dung — as if of flocks and herds for centuries — was trodden down and commingled with the limestone dust so as to form a solid plaster-bed. Another and yet larger pool, lower down the slope was supplied with water by a stream which rippled and cascaded along its narrow bed from the upper pool; and yet beyond this, westward, the water gurgled away under the grass as we had met it when coming in, and finally lost itself in the parching wady, from which this oasis opened. The water itself was remarkably pure and sweet: unequalled by any wehad found after leaving the Nile." Meanwhile the late indefatigable Reverend F.W. Holland, after several ineffectual attempts, had at length successfully achieved a visit to the same spot, and an account of it from his field-book is given in the Quarterly Statement of the "Pal. Exploro Fund" for January 1884. The accompanying sketch map of his route places 'Ain Kadeis at about the same distance as above from Petra and Nukl respectively, and gives it an elevation of one thousand four hundred and eighty-five feet above the sea. The place is thus described (page 9).
"There are three springs, two on the hill-side, and one in the bed of the wady; from the lower spring, on the hillside a good stream of water flows for about one hundred yards down the wady, forming pools at which the goats. are watered; the camels go to the spring. The upperspring on the hillside is a poor one now; it is built round with large rough stones to a depth of five feet, and there is a rude stone trough here and at the lowest spring. The three springs are not more than forty yards apart. The wady, which is stony throughout, has a bed, below the springs, nearly fifteen feet deep, between stony jorfs. As one ascends, the mountains become lower and less steep; there is much pasturage on them; the lower strata are chalk with flints; the upper, hard limestone (nummulitic?); large masses have fallen down and lie in the valley. There are a few fig-trees and a bed of coarse grass. About fifty yards higher up the wady than 'Ain Kadeis there is a deeper well with four old watering-places; there are also traces of others near."
Both these explorers strongly identify the site with Kadesh-barnea, and the conclusion has been adopted by a large number of Biblical scholars. The name and character of the place have certainly been established as coincident, but still the position is unsatisfactory. Ain Kadeis is nearly midway between the Arabah and the Mediterranean, and after all the arguments of Dr. Trumbull and others, this seems too far west to suit the requirements of the Scriptural account, particularly the journeys of the Israelites. Especially is the attempt to remove the well-established position of Mount Hor to some locality west of the Arabah, for the purpose of accommodating this identification (as Dr. Trumbull does not hesitate to do) too herculean an undertaking. That the comparatively late name, "Idumaea," may have been extended so as to include the region immediately south of Palestine, we may very well concede, without admitting that the older designation of Edom" ever passed the Arabah, which is the natural and still existing boundary. The reasoning of Dr. Trumbull to the contrary, however ingenious and learned, seems too much like a piece of special pleading for a foregone and favorite theory, and parts of it are clearly defective, especially as to the conquering march of Joshua (Jos 15:19, where "from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza," evidently marks the eastern and the western limits respectively), the alleged contradiction between the refusal of a passage by Edom to the Israelites, and their burial of Aaron on the traditional Mount Hor (for they did not thereby acquire any title or cross the territory), and the imaginary "Wall Road." SEE SHUR.
We cannot help thinking that more thorough exploration of the north- eastern part of the Sinaitic desert will yet bring to light other oases of a similar character, and among them one still bearing the not uncommon name of Kadesh, or perhaps some trace of the distinctive term Barnea. Lieut. Conder expresses a similar conviction (Quar. Statement of the "Pal. Explor. Fund," January 1885, page 21 sq.).