The Negev Desert

Mountain Negev
Mountain Negev

Negev Desert is the largest region in Israel covering 55% ( 4700 sq. ml) of the country's territory.  Located on the same latitude as the Sahara Desert (23.4162° N, 25.6628° E), it is a very hot desert with almost no vegetation even in its mountainous parts.


The northern region of the Negev receives nearly 12 inches of rain annually and has fairly good soil which is suitable for growing crops. Southern Negev is a rocky desert with almost no precipitation and little soil which is essentially the accumulation of dust. There are several deep canyons or craters called makhtesh (in Hebrew) with dry riverbeds called wadi (in Arabic) that fill with water during rare rain storms.



Beginning in ancient times, nomad shepherds dwelled here. Here, the forefathers of the Jewish and Arab nations wandered. Abraham, the father of Isaak and Ishmael, and Jacob, with his sons, walked through this desert.


There are some historians who believe Sinai Mountain is situated in the Negev desert, the place where Almighty God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. On Mountain Karkom, scientists discovered over 40 thousand stone drawings and inscriptions along with ruins of ancient dwellings from the period of time chronicled in the book of  Exodus.


There is archaeological evidence of human activity in the Negev already 4000 years ago, and perhaps as much as 7000 years ago. The Bible records the patriarchs lived in the region of Negev. In the 4th century BC, Arab tribes, the Nabateans, arrived in the Negev and developed sophisticated irrigation in their oases and cities. Petra was a capital city which controlled the trade on the famous spice route.



There are many places of interest in the Negev including National Parks and natural wonders. Avdat National Park is an excavated and preserved Nabatian city. Tel Beer Sheba National Park is a UNESCO World's Heritage site which has been excavated to reveal ancient Beer Sheba and, of course, there is the famous Makhtesh (crater) Ramon.