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The word conveys the idea of ruin or desolation caused by hostile lands, as when God says to Jerusalem (Es., v, 14): "I will make thee desolate "; or when the Psalmist, referring to the punishment inflicted by Jehovah, says ( Psalm 9:7 ): "The enemy are consumed, left desolate for ever". It was looked upon as a place without water, thus Is., xliii, 19: "Behold I shall set up streams in the desert [ jeshimon ]". In poetical passages it is used as a parallel to midbar , cf.

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" Frequently it is used of the wilderness of the Exodus.

Besides such uses of the word, it seems when used with the article often to have assumed the force of a proper name.

The Hebrew words translated in the Douay Version of the Bible by "desert" or "wilderness", and usually rendered by the Vulgate desertum , "solitude", or occasionally eremus , have not the same shade of meaning as the English word desert.

The word wilderness , which is more frequently used than desert of the region of the Exodus, more nearly approaches the meaning of the Hebrew, though not quite expressing it.

In such cases it refers at times to the wilderness of the Exodus (cf. Parts of the waste region about the Dead Sea are called the jeshimon ; and to the north-east of the same sea there is a place called Beth-Jeshimoth (cf.

Numbers ), where the Israelites are said to have encamped at the end of the wanderings.

It was not fertilized by streams of water, but springs were to be found there ( Genesis 16:7 ), and in places cisterns to collect the rainfall.

Midbar is the word generally used in the Pentateuch for the desert of the Exodus; but of the regions of the Exodus various districts are distinguished as the desert of Sin ( Exodus 16:1 ), the desert of Sinai ( Exodus 19:1 ), the desert of Sur ( Exodus ), the desert of Sin ( zin ) ( Numbers ), etc.

Very frequently the word 'arabah has a mere geographical sense.

Thus it refers to the strange depression extending from the base of Mount Hermon , through the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, to the Gulf of Akabah.

When we speak of the desert our thoughts are naturally borne to such places as the Sahara, a great sandy waste, incapable of vegetation, impossible as a dwelling-place for men, and where no human being is found except when hurrying through as quickly as he can.

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