🔼The name Kadesh-barnea in the Bible
The curious name Kadesh-barnea occurs about ten times in the Bible as alternative for just Kadesh, which occurs about sixteen times. The city named Kadesh-barnea was situated in the far south of Canaan (Numbers 34:4), and would be part of the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:3).
🔼Etymology of the name Kadesh-barnea
The name Kadesh-barnea consists of two elements. The first element of our name comes from the קדש (qadash), meaning to be holy:
The origin of the second part is a bit of a mystery. Both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary decline from proposing a meaning and only the valiant Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) has a theory.
Jones thinks that the second element of our name itself consists of two elements. The first one, says Jones, is בר, which is the Chaldean, Syriac and Arabic word for desert. The Hebrews, however, would have doubtlessly drawn this element from the root cluster ברר:
The second element of the second part of our name, according to Jones, comes from the verb נוע (nua'), meaning to shake, stagger:
All put together, Alfred Jones translates the name Kadesh-barnea with Sacred Desert Of Wandering. But judging from the grouping of the terms it would probably have fittingly looked like Holy Purifying Wanderings to a Hebrew audience.