KADESH (Heb. קָדֵשׁ), name of several places in Ereẓ Israel and Syria to which a sacred character is attributed.
(1) Kadesh, Kadesh-Barnea (Heb. קָדֵשׁ, קָדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ), an important oasis situated on the southern border of Canaan (Num. 34:4; Josh. 15:3; Ezek. 47:19; 48:28) in the wilderness of Zin (Num. 20:1; 27:14; 33:36; Deut. 32:51) – part of the wilderness of Paran (Num. 20:16) – at a distance of an eleven days' journey from Mt. Horeb (Deut. 1:2). Kadesh is alternatively called En-Mishpat ("spring of judgment"; Gen. 14:7) and the "waters of Meribah" ("strife," Num. 20:13, 24; 27:14; Deut. 32:51), names which indicate its special role as a sacred place of judgment and assembly for the desert tribes.
Kadesh-Barnea appears in the stories of Abraham (Gen. 16:14; 20:1) and in the description of the expedition of Chedorlaomer and his allies; Kadesh-Barnea, here called En-Mishpat, is said to have been inhabited by Amalekites (Gen. 14:7). During the Exodus it served as an assembly point for the Israelite tribes in the desert (Deut. 1:46). Some scholars regard it as the first amphictyonic center of the Israelites. From Kadesh-Barnea spies were sent to explore Canaan (Num. 13:26); the attempt was made to penetrate into Canaan which was prevented by Arad and Hormah (Num. 14:40–45; 21:1; 33:36–40); messengers were sent to the king of Edom; and from here the Israelites started out on their eastward march to Transjordan (Num. 20:14ff.; 33:36ff.; Deut. 1:46ff.; Judg. 11:16ff.). Biblical tradition associates Kadesh-Barnea with the family of Moses in particular: here Moses drew water abundantly from the rock; here he and Aaron were punished for their lack of faith by being denied entrance into the land of Canaan (Num. 20:2ff.); here his sister Miriam died and was buried (Num. 20:1); and Aaron died nearby at mount Hor (Num. 20:22–29; 33:37–39). Kadesh-Barnea has been identified with the group of springs 46 mi. (75 km.) south of Beer-Sheba and 15 mi. (25 km.) south of Niẓẓanah. The name is preserved at the southernmost spring ʿAyn Qudays, but ʿAyn al-Qudayrāt to the north of it is of much greater importance being a rich spring which waters a fertile plain. In its vicinity a large fortress from the time of the Judahite kings was discovered. Most scholars therefore identify Kadesh-Barnea with the larger spring; the entire group of springs may have originally been called Kadesh-Barnea and the name survived at the southern one despite its lesser importance. During the Sinai campaign a large Israelite fortress was discovered also above ʿAyn Qudays as well as numerous remains in the whole region from the Middle Bronze I (c. 2000 B.C.E.) and Israelite periods.
Large-scale excavations in 1976 and 1982 uncovered three superimposed fortresses on the site. The first was dated to the 11th century, the second to around the time of Hezekiah and measured 65 ft. × 195 ft. (20 × 60 m.) with six rectangular towers and a moat and glacis on three sides, and the third to the seventh century, probably destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Inscriptions indicate that the inhabitants of the fortress probably spoke Hebrew.
(2) Kedesh in Galilee (Heb. קֶדֶשׁ בַּגָּלִיל), one of the principal cities in Upper Galilee in the Canaanite and Israelite periods.
(3) Kedesh-Naphtali (Heb. קֶדֶשׁ־נַפְתָּלִי), the birthplace of Barak, son of Abinoam, located in Galilee in the territory of the tribe of Naphtali (Judg. 4:6, 9–11). It is generally identified with Kedesh (2) but this seems unsound for the following reasons:
(a) Kedesh Upper Galilee is far from Mt. Tabor in the vicinity of which Deborah's battle with the Canaanite kings took place;
(b) "Elon-Bezaanannim, which is by Kedesh" (Judg. 4:11) is also known from the border description of Naphtali where it is situated between the Tabor and the Jordan (Josh. 19:33).
Kedesh-Naphtali should therefore be sought east of Mount Tabor and in this area Khirbat al-Kadīsh near Poriyyah which contains extensive remains from the early Israelite period has been proposed as the location of the site.
(4) Kadesh on the Orontes, a major city in the Canaanite period on the Orontes River, identified with Tell Nabī Mind south of Lake Homs. Together with Megiddo, Kadesh headed the coalition of Canaanite kings against Thutmosis III in their great battle in c. 1468 B.C.E. Although confined with the other defeated kings within the walls of Megiddo, the king of Kadesh succeeded in escaping the Egyptian siege and Kadesh was conquered only during Thutmosis' sixth campaign, in his eighth year. In the 14th century B.C.E. the city came under Hittite influence, as indicated by the *El-Amarna letters. It was conquered at the beginning of the 13th century by Seti I as shown in a stele discovered by Pézard in his excavations at Kadesh. A relief depicting Seti's conquest may be preserved in the Karnak temple in Egypt but some scholars interpret it as referring to Kadesh in Galilee. During the reign of Ramses II, a famous battle between the Egyptians and the Hittites (c. 1280 B.C.E.) took place near Kadesh; it actually terminated in a defeat for the Egyptians and Kadesh remained in the possession of the Hittites. According to the peace treaty concluded after the battle, the border between the two kingdoms in the Lebanon al-Biqʿa was moved south of Kadesh. Further information on the city is lacking. It was apparently destroyed in the invasion of the Sea Peoples at the beginning of the 12th century B.C.E. and its place was taken over in the Israelite period by Riblah on the Orontes south of Kadesh. The border of Lebo-Hamath in the Bible corresponds to the Egyptian border south of Kadesh.
Excavations from 1975 reveal a settlement at the site in the sixth millennium B.C.E. and then reoccupation in the third millennium. The settlement was apparently destroyed around 1600 B.C.E. and reestablished by the time mentioned in the sources, i.e., 1468.
(1) B. Rothenberg and J. Aharoni, Tagliyyot Sinai (1958); H.C. Trumbull, Kadesh-Barnea (1884): C.L. Woolley and T.E. Lawrence, The Wilderness of Zin (1915); Glueck, in: AASOR, 15 (1935), 118ff.; Phythian-Adams, in: PEFAS, 67 (1935), 69ff.; 114ff.; de Vaux and Savignac, in: RB, 47 (1938), 89ff. (2) J. Aharoni, Hitnaḥalut Shivtei Yisrael ba-Galil ha-Elyon (1957), index; Avi-Yonah, Land, index; Albright, in: BASOR, 19 (1928), 12; 35 (1929), 9; J. Garstang, Joshua-Judges (1931), 390–91. (3) Press, in: BJPES, 1, pt. 3 (1933/34), 26ff.; J. Aharoni, op. cit., index; Kolshari, in: BIES, 27 (1963), 165ff. (4); M. Péyard, Qadesh Mission à Tell Nebi Mend… (1931); Du Buisson, in: Mélanges Maspéro, 1 (1938), 919ff.; Gardiner, in: Onomastica, 2 (1947), index; Aharoni, Land, index.