Menu JTA Search

U.S. Children to Finance Excavations of Sinai Wilderness Site

Sunday school pupils will be asked to contribute ten cents each to raise $3,000 to finance excavations by Dr. Nelsen Glueck, archaeologist of the Hebrew Union College, at what he believes to be the site of Bible-famed Kadesh Barnea in the Arabian desert.

The plan was announced by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations which said Dr. Glueck, now director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem, had found the spot believed to be identified as the place where the Israelites spent 38 of their 40 years in the wilderness after the Egyptian exodus.

Kadesh Barnea is famous in the Bible as the place where the children of Israel set up the Holy Tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant. It was there Miriam, Moses’ sister, was said to have died, and from that point that scouts were sent into Canaan.

The union’s Commission on Jewish Education, headed by Dr. David Philipson, plans to keep the children — described as “partners” in the enterprise — informed of progress by means of slides and talks. A pamphlet, “How Would You Like to Take a Trip to Sinai and the Site of Kadesh Barnea?” by Dr. Emanuel Gamoran will be distributed to the schools.

Dr. Glueck, after examining all possible sites of the ancient encampment, found on one of them an old settlement consisting of a small Judaean fortress, dated from pottery found there at approximately ten centuries B.C.E. He concluded that it is at this site, Ain Kadeis, that Kadesh Barnea was located, and a number of eminent scholars have concurred.

Ain Kadeis is easily accessible from Beersheba in Palestine, Dr. Glueck said.

“It is a small site which can be easily and inexpensively excavated and will, I believe, yield a great deal of information for the early history of Israel,” he wrote. “There has as yet been no excavation conducted in Palestine under the auspices of American Jewry. Indeed, the land of the Bible, so far as its archaeological background is concerned, has been strangely neglected by the People of the Book.”

After being informed that funds were being raised to finance the excavation, Dr. Glueck has applied to the Egyptian Government for a concession to excavate Ain Kadeis.

NEXT STORY