Kadesh, Tell Qudeirat and Hazar-Addar

‘Ain Qudeirat is often thought to be the “Kadesh of Scripture”. However, this opinion ignores several things- firstly, that there is a distinction between “Kadesh”, or the Quseima area, Gen 16:14, “Kadesh-Barnea”/”Rithmah”/”Kadesh in Paran”, or Wady Abu Retemat, the reddish plain NW of Meribah, “Meribah”, or ‘Ain Qudeis (30°35’2″N, 34°29’3″E), shown by Ezekiel to be the southernmost point of the Promised Land, and “Kadesh in Zin”, the valley holding ‘Ain Qudeis. Secondly, Qudeirat cannot be either Kadesh-Barnea, Meribah, or Kadesh-in-Zin because it is not on the edge of the hill country (Deut 1:19-20, Num 14:40-45), and is within the boundaries of the Promised Land (Num 20:12-13).

Tell Qudeirat (30°38’53″N, 34°25’21″E) is, however, far more likely to be biblical Hazar-Addar. The name “Hazar-Addar” means “enclosure/sheepfold/village of glory (or, possibly, broadness, threshing floors, all those words having the same Hebrew spelling) “. Tell Qudeirat is located near a powerful spring, filled with vegetation, aptly deserving the name “of glory”. The tell was excavated by Cohen and re-evaluated by radiocarbon dating.

The site appears to have five layers:

A 12th-11th century substratum containing Midianite pottery.

The Lower Fortress: Better termed a “casemate-ringed enclosure”, it was a “Negev Settlement”, and dated to both Early and Late Iron IIa (see the page entitled “Iron Age”). Dates by to before Saul (1215-1016, 88.9%) BCE by radiocarbon dating, however, this date might have originally been used in the substratum. It was not destroyed by Shishak in 926 BC, for the Masos-Nahas based settlement system lasted well into the pre-Omride 9th century until its destruction by the Cyprus trade, but it could have been mentioned in his list (100, 116, 117, 146). Unlike most Negev sites, which were abandoned then, Qudeirat continued in operation well into the 9th century, including Late [Omride] Iron IIa forms among its wares.

The Middle Fortress: Obviously a monarchic building, it was probably built during the reign of Hezekiah (see the section in AJaL relating to the Brook of Egypt) or, far less likely, Joash of Israel. According to radiocarbon dating, it was inhabited between 1020-798 (68.2 %) or 1217-758 (91.3%), the dates obviously being influenced by the old wood effect, since the earliest date the site could be built is 798 BC. The pottery is clearly Iron IIB, the time of Jotham and Hezekiah. According to Finkelstein, this site has a layout similar to Judahite Arad and Horvat Uza (31°12’33″N, 35° 9’56″E). It was destroyed by either the Assyrians, Egyptians, nomads, or Edomites.

The Upper Fortress: Built by either Manasseh with Assyrian help (ala Finkelstein), Josiah, or the Egyptians (only other alternatives). Had evidence of scribal activity in Hebrew and Demotic. The pottery was still Negevite and Judahite. Destroyed in 601/600 or 597 BC.

The Persian Period settlement: The settlement contained imported Greek pottery and a 4th C BC Yehud seal (from a more northerly location). The ostracon saying יקריבו found at the Upper Fortress may come from this settlement.


Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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