The word means a steppe, a desert plain; and it conveys the idea of a stretch of country, arid, unproductive, and desolate.
In poetic passages it is used in parallelism with the word midbar .
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.
These are the principal words used for desert in the Bible .
There are, however, others less frequently used, only one or two of which can be mentioned here: such as tohu , used in Gen., i, 2: "the earth was void ".
Thus ( Isaiah ) we read: "Let the desert ( midbar ) and the cities thereof be exalted: Cedar shall dwell in houses", or rather, "the villages that Cedar doth inhabit".
Not that there were towns in the desert occupied by a stable population. For the desert was not a place regularly cultivated like the fields and gardens of ordinary civilized districts.
" 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.
Rather, it was a region in which was to be found pasturage, not rich, but sufficient for sheep and goats, and more abundant after the rainy season.
The desert, too, was looked upon as the abode of wild beasts — lions (Ecclus., xiii, 23), wild asses ( Job 24:5 ), jackals ( Malachi 1:3 ), etc.
In Deut., xxxii, 10, it is used in parallelism with midbar , and in Ps. Such also is çiyyah , which means, literally, dryness, but refers at times to the desert: so, 'areç çiyyah , "a land of drought", or "a desert" ( Hosea 2:5 ).