Wilderness

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

(place of wild beasts). Like the word desert, wilderness does not necessarily imply an absolutely arid, sandy, and uninhabitable place, but an uncultivated waste, which it was possible for pastoral tribes to occupy, and with stretches of pasturage (Josh. 15:6161In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, and Secacah, (Joshua 15:61); Isa. 42:1111Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. (Isaiah 42:11)). The wilderness of wandering in which the Israelites spent forty years (Deut. 1:11These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (Deuteronomy 1:1); Josh. 5:66For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not show them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. (Joshua 5:6); Neh. 9:19,2119Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go. (Nehemiah 9:19)
21Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. (Nehemiah 9:21)
; Psa. 78:40-52; 107:440How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. 43How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: 44And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. 45He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. 46He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labor unto the locust. 47He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. 48He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. 49He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. 50He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; 51And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: 52But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. (Psalm 78:40‑52)
4They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. (Psalm 107:4)
; Jer. 2:22Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. (Jeremiah 2:2)), was practically the great peninsula of Sinai lying between Seir, Edom, and Gulf of Akaba on the east, and Gulf of Suez and Egypt on the west. It embraced many minor divisions or wildernesses, as those of Sin or Zin, Paran, Shur, Etham, and Sinai. [WANDERINGS.]

Concise Bible Dictionary:

This term and that of DESERT do not usually refer in scripture to such places as the vast sand-plains of Africa, though there are some such in Palestine, but the words mostly refer to non-arable plains where the vegetation but thinly covers the limestone with patches of verdure. In places where the ground is not worth cultivating it can be used for pasture. Some of such deserts are comparatively small, but others are extensive. The wilderness of JUDAH is a plain extending the whole length of the Dead Sea; but some of it can be used for pasture land. It may be said to include the wilderness of EN-GEDI, that of MAON, and probably that of ZIPH and of JERUEL.
The wilderness of BETH-AVEN and of GIBEON were in the allotment of Benjamin.
The wilderness of DAMASCUS was far north, and that of BEER-SHEBA far south; and that of SHUR, still farther south-west.
Those of KEDEMOTH, of EDOM, and of MOAB were east of the Dead Sea.
The rest were not in Palestine proper, but were the deserts through which the Israelites passed or were located in their wanderings: namely, ETHAM, KADESH, PARAN, SIN, SINAI, and ZIN. See WANDERINGS OF THE ISRAELITES.
Typically the wilderness was outside Canaan, and stands in contrast to it. The wilderness was the place of testing to the Israelites, and it is the same to the Christian, to humble him, and to prove what is in his heart (Deut. 8:22And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8:2)). He has to learn what he is in himself, and the God of all grace he has to do with. There is need of constant dependence or there is failure, while the experience is gained of knowing One who never fails to succor. Canaan is figuratively a heavenly position and conflict, corresponding with the need of the armor of Ephesians 6:1111Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11), to stand against the wiles of the devil. For this one needs to realize what it is to be dead and risen with Christ. It is association in spirit with Christ in heaven.