A land bridge between the mountainous wilderness of Sinai and the hill country of Judah, the Negeva witnessed critical events in the Bible during the times of the patriarchs, the Exodus and the Israelite kings. No sooner are we propelled through the primeval history in the Bible—the creation, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the Flood and the Tower of Babel—than we first hear of the Negev.
In Genesis 11, Abram, son of Terah, is introduced in a genealogical account. God immediately directs Abram to “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you” (Genesis 12:1–2). Abram leaves Haran (probably in northern Iraq) and sets off to the land where the new nation will dwell. He pitches his tent in the hill country and, after building an altar there, “Abram journeyed by stages toward the Negeb” (Genesis 12:9).