From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

wilderness desert  1 Samuel 17:28  Jeremiah 2:6  Psalm 107:4-9

Geographically, the wilderness lay south, east, and southwest of the inhabited land of Israel in the Negeb, Transjordan, and the Sinai. A particular wilderness, closer to home, lay on the eastern slopes of the Judean mountains in the rain shadow leading down to the Dead Sea. This particular wilderness, sometimes called Jeshimon, became a refuge for David when he fled from Saul, and was the locale of the temptation of Jesus.

Historically, the wilderness was particularly connected with the wandering of the escaping Hebrews after their miraculous escape from Egypt and just prior to the conquest of Transjordan. This was remembered in their retelling of the story as “that great and terrible wilderness” ( Deuteronomy 1:19;  Deuteronomy 8:15 ). There was good news and bad news about this period of the nation's existence. The good news was that God had provided manna, quail, and water from the rock. He had led them in the wilderness, and revealed Himself and His covenant laws to them at Sinai/Horeb, the mountain of revelation. The bad news was they had rebelled against the Lord and murmured against Moses again and again in the wilderness. The Book of Numbers is called in the Hebrew Bible, bemidbar , “In the desert.” It tells the tragic story of Kadesh-barnea in the wilderness of Paran and the spy committee who persuaded the people not to attack the Promised Land from the south, so that a whole generation died in the desert ( Numbers 13-14 ). In the Psalms, the worshiping Israelites confessed these ancient sins ( Psalm 78:40;  Psalm 106:26 ), and New Testament preachers used them as a warning to “wilderness Christians” not to make the same mistakes ( 1 Corinthians 10:1-13;  Hebrews 3:16-19 ). There were several specific wilderness areas mentioned, such as those of Sin, Shur, Sinai, Paran, and Zin on the way of wilderness wanderings. Some specific locales were connected with David's outlaw years, such as wilderness of En-Gedi, of Judah, of Maon, of Ziph. Jeremiah once yearned for a desert lodge as a place of escape from his rebellious audience ( Hebrews 9:2 ). People in biblical times mostly feared the desert as a place inhabited by beasts of prey, snakes, and scorpions (even demons) to which one might drive out the scapegoat ( Leviticus 16:10 ,Leviticus 16:10, 16:22 ,Leviticus 16:22, 16:26;  Isaiah 13:21-22;  Isaiah 34:13-14 ). So it was appropriate as a place for Jesus' temptation ( Matthew 4:1-11;  Mark 1:12-13;  Luke 4:1-13 ).

The prophets felt that most of Israel's religious troubles began with the settlement of Canaan and apostasy to Canaanite idolatry, but they also looked forward to a renewed pilgrimage in the wilderness ( Hosea 2:14-15;  Hosea 9:10 , compare  Deuteronomy 32:10;  Jeremiah 2:2-3;  Jeremiah 31:2-3 ). There would be a new Exodus after the Babylonian Exile through the north Syrian desert to make the Lord their king and “prepare his way” ( Ezekiel 20:30-38;  Isaiah 40:3-5 ). John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea as the promised prophetic forerunner ( Matthew 3:1-3;  Mark 1:2-4;  Luke 3:2-6;  John 1:23 ). Not only did Jesus overcome the tempter in the wilderness, but He fed the four thousand in a desolate place east of Lake Galilee ( Mark 8:1-9 ). See Desert; Paran; Wilderness Of Shur; Wilderness Of Sin; Sinai; Wanderings.

M. Pierce Matheny

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

1: Ἐρημία (Strong'S #2047 — Noun Feminine — eremia — er-ay-mee'-ah )

"an uninhabited place," is translated "wilderness" in the AV of  Matthew 15:33;  Mark 8:4 (RV, "a desert place"); RV and AV, "wilderness" in   2—Corinthians 11:26 . See Desert , A. (In the Sept.,  Isaiah 60:20;  Ezekiel 35:4,9 .

2: Ἔρημος (Strong'S #2048 — — eremos — er'-ay-mos )

an adjective signifying "desolate, deserted, lonely," is used as a noun, and rendered "wilderness" 32 times in the AV; in  Matthew 24:26;  John 6:31 , RV, "wilderness" (AV, "desert"). For the RV, "deserts" in  Luke 5:16;  8:29 see Desert , B.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

This term and that of DESERTdo not usually refer in scripture to such places as the vast sand-plains of Africa, though there are some such in Palestine, but the words mostly refer to non-arable plains where the vegetation but thinly covers the limestone with patches of verdure. In places where the ground is not worth cultivating it can be used for pasture. Some of such deserts are comparatively small, but others are extensive. The wilderness of JUDAHis a plain extending the whole length of the Dead Sea; but some of it can be used for pasture land. It may be said to include the wilderness of En-Gedi that of MAON, and probably that of ZIPH and of Jeruel

The wilderness of Beth-Aven and of Gibeon were in the allotment of Benjamin.

The wilderness of Damascus was far north, and that of Beer-Sheba far south; and that of SHUR, still farther south-west.

Those of Kedemoth of EDOM, and of MOAB were east of the Dead Sea.

The rest were not in Palestine proper, but were the deserts through which the Israelites passed or were located in their wanderings: namely, Etham, Kadesh, Paran, Sin, Sinai and ZIN. See Wanderings Of The Israelites

Typically the wilderness was outside Canaan, and stands in contrast to it. The wilderness was the place of testing to the Israelites, and it is the same to the Christian, to humble him, and to prove what is in his heart.  Deuteronomy 8:2 . He has to learn what he is in himself, and the God of all grace he has to do with. There is need of constant dependence or there is failure, while the experience is gained of knowing One who never fails to succour. Canaan is figuratively a heavenly position and conflict, corresponding with the need of the armour of  Ephesians 6:11 , to stand against the wiles of the devil. For this one needs to realise what it is to be dead and risen with Christ. It is association in spirit with Christ in heaven.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

  • Tohu, a "desolate" place, a place "waste" or "unoccupied" ( Deuteronomy 32:10;  Job 12:24; Compare  Genesis 1:2 , "without form"). The wilderness region in the Sinaitic peninsula through which for forty years the Hebrews wandered is generally styled "the wilderness of the wanderings." This entire region is in the form of a triangle, having its base toward the north and its apex toward the south. Its extent from north to south is about 250 miles, and at its widest point it is about 150 miles broad. Throughout this vast region of some 1,500 square miles there is not a single river. The northern part of this triangular peninsula is properly the "wilderness of the wanderings" (et-Tih). The western portion of it is called the "wilderness of Shur" ( Exodus 15:22 ), and the eastern the "wilderness of Paran."

    The "wilderness of Judea" ( Matthew 3:1 ) is a wild, barren region, lying between the Dead Sea and the Hebron Mountains. It is the "Jeshimon" mentioned in  1 Samuel 23:19 .

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Wilderness'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/w/wilderness.html. 1897.

  • Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

     Psalm 102:6 (a) This type represents the lonely, desolate condition of the blessed Lord as He walked about among sinful men and wicked enemies on the earth. (See under Pelican

     Proverbs 21:19 (a) It is better for one to go without many comforts, and to deny himself many pleasures if thereby he can live as he pleases. This is to be preferred to living the life with one who is constantly a source of sorrow and trouble to the heart.

     Isaiah 32:15 (b) This is a wonderful type of the barren Christian life, which is filled with sorrow, difficulty, disappointment and grief, but which, by the ministry of the Spirit, becomes a life filled with fruitfulness, beauty and joy.

     Isaiah 43:19 (b) This word describes the deliverance which GOD is able to bring into the tangled affairs of human life, straightens out the difficulties, delivers from perplexities, and brings His child safely through to a life of peace.

     Revelation 12:6 (b) Probably this refers to the condition of Israel as scattered throughout the world, where they have weary feet, longing eyes, and heavy hearts. GOD will bring them out of this condition, and out of these nations, to inhabit again their own land.

     Revelation 17:3 (b) This wilderness no doubt represents the various nations of the world in which the great apostate and religious system operates. This church produces nothing but tragedy and sin in the lives of the people who become members of their group. It really is a wilderness in every sense of the word.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

    Wilderness, The, in which the Israelites spent 40 years, between Egypt and Canaan, is called sometimes the "great and terrible wilderness" by way of eminence.  Deuteronomy 1:1;  Deuteronomy 8:2;  Joshua 5:6;  Nehemiah 9:19;  Nehemiah 9:21;  Psalms 78:40;  Psalms 78:52;  Psalms 107:4;  Jeremiah 2:2. In general it may be identified with the peninsula of Sinai, the triangular region between the Gulf of Akabah, on the east, and the Gulf of Suez and Egypt on the west. See Sinai. In this region there are several smaller wildernesses, as Etham, Paran, Shur, Zin. What is known distinctively as the "wilderness of the Wandering" is the great central limestone plateau between the granite region of Sinai on the south, the sandy desert on the north, and the valley of the Arabah on the east. The explorations of travellers and the British Ordnance Survey have made this region quite well known. The route of the Israelites from Egypt to Kadesh can be traced with reasonable accuracy. Instead of entering the Promised Land immediately from Kadesh, they were driven back into the wilderness for their disobedience, and there wandered for 40 years. They probably lived a nomad life as do the Bedouin Arabs of the present day.

    King James Dictionary [7]

    Wilderness n. from wild.

    1. A desert a tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain. In the United States, it is applied only to a forest. In Scripture, it is applied frequently to the deserts of Arabia. The Israelites wandered int he wilderness forty years. 2. The ocean.

    The watry wilderness yields no supply.

    3. A state of disorder. Not in use. 4. A wood in a garden, resembling a forest.

    Webster's Dictionary [8]

    (1): ( v. t.) A tract of land, or a region, uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide, barren plain; a wild; a waste; a desert; a pathless waste of any kind.

    (2): ( v. t.) Quality or state of being wild; wildness.

    (3): ( v. t.) A disorderly or neglected place.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]

    See Desert.

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

    See Desert .

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

    is in the A.V. the most frequent rendering of מַדְבָּר (Midbar, Ἔρημος ), which primarily denotes a region not regularly tilled or inhabited ( Job 38:26;  Isaiah 32:15;  Jeremiah 2:2), but used for pasturage (from

    דָּבִר , To Track, referring to the cattle-paths) ( Jeremiah 9:9;  Psalms 65:13;  Joel 2:22;  Luke 15:4); mostly treeless and dry, but not entirely destitute of vegetation or fertility, such as are of frequent occurrence in the East (Robinson 2:656; occasionally cultivated in spots, Josephus, Ant. 12:4, 6). Towers were sometimes erected in them for the protection of flocks ( 2 Chronicles 26:10;  2 Kings 17:9; comp.  Isaiah 1:8). The term is likewise in some instances applied to particular barren tracts of hard arid steppes ( Isaiah 35:6;  Isaiah 41:18;  Isaiah 43:20;  Lamentations 4:3;  Malachi 1:3) overrun with wild animals (see Rosenmiller, Morgenl. 1:88 sq.); although for such spots the words מַדְבִּר שְׁמָמָה ( Joel 2:3; Joel 4:19), יְשׁימוֹן , עֲרָבָה (see Credner, in the Stud. U. Krit. 1833, 3:788 sq.), etc., are usually employed. For a remarkable phenomenon of these dry wastes, (See Mirage). Although this kind of region is not particularly characteristic of Palestine, yet the term Midbar is applied to the following localities in it or its immediate vicinity (See Desert).

    1. The Wilderness Of Judah also called Jeshimon ( 1 Samuel 23:19;  1 Samuel 26:1;  1 Samuel 26:3), is a rocky district in the eastern part of that tribe adjoining the Dead Sea and including the town of Engedi ( Joshua 15:61;  Judges 1:16). It appears to have extended from the vicinity of the Kedron, a few miles east of Jerusalem, to the S.W. shore of the Dead Sea and to the hills of Judah. The convent of Mar Saba (q.v.) is a marked feature of one of its wild and barren dells. (See Wilderness Of Judah). On the N.W. border of the wilderness of Judah lay The Wilderness Of Tekoa ( 2 Chronicles 20:20;  1 Maccabees 9:33); as in its E. part appears to have lain the Wilderness of Engedi ( 1 Samuel 24:2), and in its S. part The Wilderness Of Ziph (23:14 sq.) or Maon (q.v.), otherwise called Jeruel (2 Chronicles 20:46). The Wilderness of St. John ( Matthew 3:1;  Matthew 3:3; comp. 11:7;  Luke 1:80) is a part of the desert of Judah; although modern tradition gives that name to the neighborhood of Ain Karim west of Jerusalem. (See John The Baptist).

    2. The Wilderness Of Beersheba ( Genesis 21:14) lay south of that town on the borders of the desert Et-Tih. (See Beersheba).

    3. The Wilderness Of Jericho ( Joshua 16:1), between that city and the Mount of Olives, or rather Bethany, was an extension of the desert of Judah, a rough and stony tract full of precipices (see Josephus, Ant. 10:8, 2), which contains the so-called khan of the Samaritans ( Luke 10:30). Its '''N,''' E extremity is The Wilderness Of Quarantana (q.v.), and its N.W. extremity The Wilderness Of Beth-Aven ( Joshua 18:12).

    4. The Wilderness Of Gibeon, in the vicinity of that city, north of Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 2:24).

    5. The Wilderness Of Reuben ( Deuteronomy 4:43), denotes the barren tract in the neighborhood of Bezer, on the border of the tribe towards the Arabian desert. (See Reuben).

    6. The Wilderness Of Bethsaida ( Luke 9:10), a pasture-ground adjoining that town, apparently extending on both sides of the mouth of the Upper Jordan. (See Bethsaida). For the Wilderness Of Arabia Petraea or of Mt. Sinai, including those of Etham, Paran, Shur, and the Arabah, (See Wilderness Of The Wanderings).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

    wil´dẽr - nes . See Desert; Judaea , Wilderness Of; Wanderings Of Israel .

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [13]

    A district covered with brushwood in Virginia, U.S., the scene of a two days' terrible conflict between the Federals and the Confederates on the 5th and 6th May 1864.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]