Heb. Negeb, that arid district to the south of Israel through
which lay the caravan route from Central Israel to Egypt
(Gen. 12:9; 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 Ezek. 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, 1 Sam. 33:24); (2)
"Drop thy word toward the south" (Negeb, the region of dryness,
Josh. 15:4); (3) "Prophesy against the forest of the south
field" (Darom, the region of brightness, Deut. 33:23). In Job
37:9 the word "south" is literally "chamber," used here in the
sense of treasury (comp. 38:22; Ps. 135:7). This verse is
rendered in the Revised Version "out of the chamber of the
(1.) The name of Esau (q.v.), Gen. 25:30, "Feed me, I pray thee,
with that same red pottage [Heb. haadom, haadom, i.e., 'the red
pottage, the red pottage'] ...Therefore was his name called
Edom", i.e., Red.
(2.) Idumea (Isa. 34:5, 6; Ezek. 35:15). "The field of Edom"
(Gen. 32:3), "the land of Edom" (Gen. 36:16), was mountainous
(Obad. 1:8, 9, 19, 21). It was called the land, or "the mountain
of Seir," the rough hills on the east side of the Arabah. It
extended from the head of the Gulf of Akabah, the Elanitic gulf,
to the foot of the Dead Sea (1 Kings 9:26), and contained, among
other cities, the rock-hewn Sela (q.v.), generally known by the
Greek name Petra (2 Kings 14:7). It is a wild and rugged region,
traversed by fruitful valleys. Its old capital was Bozrah (Isa.
63:1). The early inhabitants of the land were Horites. They were
destroyed by the Edomites (Deut. 2:12), between whom and the
kings of Israel and Judah there was frequent war (2 Kings 8:20;
2 Chr. 28:17).
At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission
to the Israelites to pass through their land (Num. 20:14-21),
and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward
them. They were conquered by David (2 Sam. 8:14; comp. 1 Kings
9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2 Chr. 25:11, 12). But they
regained again their independence, and in later years, during
the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; R.V. marg.,
"Edomites"), made war against Israel. They took part with the
Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards
they invaded and held possession of the south of Israel as
far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing
Chaldean power (Jer. 27:3, 6).
There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isa. 34:5, 6; Jer.
49:7-18; Ezek. 25:13; 35:1-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Obad.; Mal.
1:3, 4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present
desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the
inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people
for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly
disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In
Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles
assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and
beasts, and reptiles."
The Edomites were Semites, closely related in blood and in
language to the Israelites. They dispossessed the Horites of
Mount Seir; though it is clear, from Gen. 36, that they
afterwards intermarried with the conquered population. Edomite
tribes settled also in the south of Judah, like the Kenizzites
(Gen. 36:11), to whom Caleb and Othniel belonged (Josh. 15:17).
The southern part of Edom was known as Teman.