Zin Desert

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The Wilderness is in the south

The Wilderness of Zin or the Desert of Zin (Hebrew: מדבר צין‎, Midbar Tzin) is a geographic area mentioned by the Torah as containing Kadesh-Barnea within it;[1] and it is therefore also referred to as the "Wilderness of Kadesh".[2] Most scholars, as well as traditional sources, consequently identify this wilderness as being part of the Arabah.[3]

Similarly named is the Wilderness of Sin. Modern English translations make a distinction; but it is not easily evident from the Septuagint and the Vulgate that, apart from a couple of instances,[4] render both Hebrew ṣīn and sîn as "Sin". The "Wilderness of Sin" is mentioned by the Bible as being adjacent to Mount Sinai; some[citation needed] consider Sinai to refer to al-Madhbah at Petra, adjacent to the central Arabah, and it is thus eminently possible that the "Wilderness of Sin" and the "Wilderness of Zin" are the same place.

It was this region that the British Arabist and adventurer T. E. Lawrence was exploring in a military survey for the British army when he was drafted into service. His expedition, funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund, included a survey of the entire Negev Desert.

Important Bird Area[edit]

Griffon vultures breed in the IBA

A 25,000 ha tract of this desert area near Sede Boqer, 50 km south of Be'er Sheva and some 300–600 m above sea-level, has been recognised as the Cliffs of Zin and Negev Highlands Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. Significant bird populations for which the IBA was designated include sand partridges, common cranes, MacQueen's bustards, black and white storks, pallid scops owls, desert tawny owls, Egyptian and griffon vultures, sooty and lanner falcons, Arabian babblers, hooded wheatears and Sinai rosefinches.[5]


  1. ^ e.g. Numbers 27:14; Numbers 33:36
  2. ^ Psalms 29:8
  3. ^ Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica 1899
  4. ^ Numbers 34:4 (Septuagint: Senna, Vulgate: Senna), Joshua 15:3 (Septuagint: Senna, Vulgate: Sina)
  5. ^ "Cliffs of Zin and the Negev highlands". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.


  • Woolley, C. Leonard and Lawrence, T. E., The Wilderness of Zin. Rev. 3rd ed. (Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns, in association with Stacey International, London, 2003).

Coordinates: 30°58′16″N 35°19′30″E / 30.971°N 35.325°E / 30.971; 35.325