THE SOUTHERN BORDERLAND.
die country, though now little more than a barren waste, shows signs of extensive former
cultivation, reaching down even to a comparatively recent period. This tract of land is the
Negeb, or south country of Scripture ; and 'Ain Kadis is situated on the frontier of the district.
Between this and the edge of the plateau of the Tih the country is even more barren, but
there are still traces of a primaeval race of inhabitants who found a living on its soil. At
the time of the Exodus it must have borne the same relation to the then fertile district of the
Negeb which that now barren land bears to Palestine at the present day. Now the spies went
up from Kadesh, and returned bringing with them grapes from Eshcol, which, as has been
stated above, many geographers identify with Wady el Khulil, or the Wady of Hebron.
But the city of Hebron is at least four days' journey from 'Ain Gadis, and grapes and
figs could not have been brought so far without spoiling—to say nothing of the cautious
manner in which Caleb and his companions must have passed through the country. If, then,
Kadesh Barnea is at 'Ain Kadis, the grape-bearing Eshcol must be near the same place ; and
it is a curious fact that among the most striking characteristics of the Negeb are miles of
country—hillsides and valleys covered with small stone heaps, swept in regular swathes, and
called by the Arabs to this day teleilat el 'anab, or "grape mounds." From a strategical point
of view also, 'Ain el Weibeh is ill adapted for the site of Kadesh Barnea, as the Israelites
would there have been confined in a cul de sac, with the Canaanites, Amorites, Edomites, and
Moabites completely hemming them in ; whereas in the neighbourhood of 'Ain Kadis they
would have nothing but the wilderness around them, and certainly no very hostile peoples in
their rear. A good general like Moses would scarcely have chosen a bad position for his camp,
and the probabilities therefore are that the more western 'Ain Kadis is really the Kadesh
Barnea of the Bible.
From 'Ain el Weibeh we descend into the broad valley of the Arabah, and, mounting the
opposite banks, enter Edom by the Nemelah Pass, and reach Petra by way of the magnificent
ravine called the Sik (see page 219). Edom is that narrow strip of country between the
Arabah and the Derb el Hajj, or Pilgrim Road to Mecca; it extends northwards from
Akabah, the ancient Elath, on the Red Sea to Wady Kerek, which formed the ancient
boundary between it and Moab. The district is divided into two parts, the northern portion
of which is now called J ebal, the Gebal of the Hebrew, known to the ancient Romans as
Gebalene. The southern portion is called Esh Sherah, and corresponds to the Mount Seir of
the Bible. The capital city was called in Hebrew, Sela, "the rock" (2 Kings xiv. 7), and
still bears the equivalent Latin appellation of Petra, although the natives speak of it as Wady
Musa, or " the Valley of Moses."
Edom consists of a range of porphyritic rock covered by a mass of sandstone coloured
with the most warm and vivid tints. On either side rise limestone hills, those on the east
forming the outpost of the great plateau of the Arabian Desert, while the lower range on
the west forms the eastern bank of the Arabah, which valley skirts the south country and the
Badiet et Tih, or " Desert of the Wanderings." The district is very fertile, the valleys being