Heb Negeb, that arid district to the south of Palestine through which lay the caravan route from Central Palestine to Egypt (Ge 12:9; 3/1'>13:1,3; 46:1-6). "The Negeb comprised a considerable but irregularly-shaped tract of country, its main portion stretching from the mountains and lowlands of Judah in the north to the mountains of Azazemeh in the south, and from the Dead Sea and southern Ghoron the east to the Mediterranean on the west." In Eze 20:46 (21:1 in Heb) three different Hebrew words are all rendered "south." (1) "Set thy face toward the south" (Teman, the region on the right, 1Sa 31:13); (2) "Drop thy word toward the south" (Negeb, the region of dryness, Jos 15:4); (3) "Prophesy against the forest of the south field" (Darom, the region of brightness, De 33:23). In Job 37:9 the word "south" is literally "chamber," used here in the sense of treasury (comp. Job 38:22; Ps 135:7). This verse is rendered in the Revised Version "out of the chamber of the south."
The designation of a large district of Judah; the Negeb. (See JUDAH; PALESTINE.) Palmer (Desert of Exodus) notices how accurately Jer 13:19 has been fulfilled, "the cities of the South shall be shut up, and none shall open them." Walls of solid masonry remain; fields and gardens surrounded with goodly walls, every sign of human industry, remains of wells, aqueducts, reservoirs; mountain forts to resist forays of the sons of the desert; desolated gardens, terraced hill sides, and wadies dammed to resist the torrent; ancient towns still called by their names, but no living being, except the lizard and screech owl, amidst the crumbling walls. In Jg 1:16 it is called "the wilderness of Judah South of Arad"; a strip of hilly country, running from the Dead Sea westward across Palestine, obliquely to the S.W. This tract is separated from the hills of Judaea or the mountains of Hebron by the broad plain of Beersheba (wady el Malih, "the valley of Salt") extending from the Dead Sea westward or S.W. to the land of Gerar.
The cities were 29 (Jos 15:21-32); some of the names are not of distinct cities, but compound names. The land is now at rest, enjoying its Sabbath, because it did not rest in the Jews' Sabbaths (Le 26:34-35,43). Besides the application of "the Negeb" to the whole district there are ethnological and geographical subdivisions; the Negeb of the Cherethites, the Negeb of the Kenites, the Negeb of Judah the Negeb of Arad, the Negeb of Jerahmeel. The Negeb of Caleb was a subdivision of, or identical with, the Negeb of Judah, as appears from 1Sa 30:14,16; 25:2-3; compare with Jos 21:11-12).
The low country N. and W. of Beersheba was the Negeb of the Cherethites. The Negeb of Judah was South of Hebron in the outposts of Judah's hills; Tel Zif, Main, and Kurmul (Carmel), ruined cities, mark the Negeb of Caleb. Tel Arad marks the Negeb of the Kenites reaching to the S.W. of the Dead Sea. The Negeb of Jerahmeel lay between wady Rukhmeh (corruption of Jerahmeel) in the N., and wadies el Abaydh, Marreh, and Madarah, in the South. The Amalekites (in Nu 14:25) dwelt in the valley and yet "in the hill," for their land was a plateau, the sense of sadeh "country" in Ge 14:7; compare 1Sa 27:8. Some lived in the hills, others in the fertile lower level to which the wadies debouch; so now the Azazimeh.
In the Bible, as we might expect, the points of the compass are spoken of as they refer to the land of Palestine. The south would therefore indicate the part of the land which contained Judah's and Simeon's portions, or to the district still further south, a country little known. Ge 12:9. It is called negeb in the Hebrew. Two other words are yamin and teman, signifying 'the right hand,' and are translated 'south' because the Israelites considered themselves as looking toward the East when speaking of the points of the compass. 1Sa 23:19,24; Ps 89:12; Jos 12:3; 13:4; Ps 78:26; Isa 43:6. Another word is darom, 'bright, sunny region,' hence 'the south.' De 33:23; Job 37:17; Eze 40:24-45. In the N.T., except in Ac 8:26 (where the word is ?????????, 'mid-day,' because the sun is then in the south: as the Latin meridies, 'mid-day,' also signifies 'south'), the word is ?????, 'the south.' Mt 12:42; etc.