Monday, February 28, 2022

The Hebrew noun מדבר (miḏbār) is the word for "wilderness" or "desert." Given the topographical nature of southwestern Asia and the Levant where the events of the Hebrew Bible take place, מדבר (miḏbār) is used frequently to describe the areas of barren landscape. For example, Numbers 14:33 says the Israelites are forced to wander in the "wilderness" after leaving Egypt: "And your children shall be shepherds in the wildernessמדבר) for forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wildernessמדבר)." The Judean hills and countryside are referred to as מדבר (miḏbār), and this is the region to which David flees when he hides from Saul as seen in 1 Samuel 23:14: "David remained in the strongholds in the wildernessמדבר), in the hill country of the Wildernessמדבר) of Ziph." One of the most famous verses containing מדבר (miḏḇār) is Isaiah 40:3, a passage famously quoted by John the Baptist in the New Testament: "A voice cries out: 'In the wildernessמדבר) prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God'."