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. 15:61; Isa. 42:11). The wilderness of wandering in which the Israelites spent forty years (Deut. 1:1; Josh. 5:6; Neh. 9:19,21; Psa. 78:40-52; 107:4; Jer. 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:

Negev desert – Timna Park – Israel
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.
Judean Desert—Israel
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. 8:2). 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 6:11, 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.

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