Wilderness of the Wandering
The region in which the Israelites spent nearly 38 years of their existence after they had left Egypt and spent a year before Mount Sinai. They went as far as Kadesh, on the southernmost border of Palestine, from which place spies were sent up into the promised land. These returned with such a report of the inhabitants and their walled cities that the people were discouraged and began to murmur and rebel. For their sin they were compelled to remain 38 years longer in the wilderness because it showed that they were not yet prepared and trained to conquer and to hold their promised possessions. The wilderness of the wandering was the great central limestone plateau of the Sinaitic Peninsula. It was bordered on the east by the valley of the Arabah, which runs from the Dead Sea to the head of the eastern branch of the Red Sea. On the south and southwest were the granite mountains of Sinai and on the north the Mediterranean Sea and the mountainous region south of Judea. It is called the Desert of Paran and Badiet et-Tih, which means “Desert of the Wandering.” The children of Israel were not probably marching as a nation from place to place in this wilder new during these 38 years, but they probably had a kind of headquarters at Kadesh and were “compelled to linger on as do the Bedouin Arabs of the present day, in a half-savage, homeless state, moving about from place to place, and pitching their tents wherever they could find pasture for their flocks and herds.”–E.H. Palmer. Toward the close of the forty years from Egypt they again assembled at Kadesh, and, once more under the leadership of the Shechinah, they marched down the Arabah on their way to the promised land.–ED.
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866)