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Bible Studies/Where's is south in Gen. 13:1?


Genesis 13:1
"1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South."

It's written that Abraham left Egypt and went "south".
Leaving Egypt required passing through what is now called the Arabian Peninsula.
South in the Arabian Peninsula is Mount Sinai.

The problem is that the muslims in the islam belief claim that Abraham built the kaaba in surah 2:125-127 in the quran.

Now in Genesis 13:3 it's written, "And he went on his journeys from the South even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;..."

Now this time it's stating a that Abraham left the South and went to Bethel where he first made the alter to G-D.

South is mentioned after Abraham left Egypt.
South could mean, South of the Arabian Peninsula as one goes to Mount Sinai.
South could mean , South of what's considered today Saudi Arabia.
But, when you go to Google Maps and look at where Bethel is(above Jerusalem near Ai)it seems unlikely that after Abraham had crossed the Arabian Peninsula he then went South down into Saudi Arabia.
Because that makes his journey even further away from his mentioned destination.

I personally don't believe Abraham went down South into Saudi Arabia after crossing the Arabian Peninsula.

I am confused by where "South" is after they exited Egypt?

Question here is, "where is South"?
Please specifically list a scripture verifying where "South" is in the OT.
Or, please list specifically any external ancient writings that can clarify where "South" is.

Hi Steve,

The word translated "south" in Genesis 13:1 (King James Version) is the Hebrew word, negeb or negev. It's actually a poor translation of the original Hebrew, and other English versions accurately translate the term, "Negev." (See NIV, NASB, ESV.) The root word from which this word comes means "to be parched." It actually refers to the arid wilderness area called "The Negev," which is in the southern portion of The Promised Land.

The Negev was sometimes referred to as "the south" due to its relative location to Israel, the geographic focus of God's plan for His chosen people. At times, when referring to a southerly direction, one would use this term. What he was actually saying was "in the direction of the Negev."

Teyman is another Hebrew word which technically means south or southward in the sense that you and I would use the word. This word is used in Exodus 26:35, Numbers 2:10 and 10:6, as well as other Old Testament passages. This word is not used in Genesis 13:1.

So what Genesis 13:1 is saying is that Abram left Egypt and went INTO THE NEGEV. Ironically, this was ENE of Egypt, not south of Egypt, which would have taken him in the opposite direction of his eventual destination.

If you look at a map and trace the journey of Abraham, you will clearly see that he traveled through The Negev. Journeying south out of Egypt would not make any sense. See

I hope this helps.


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Scott Talbot


I have studied the Bible and Bible-related topics since the time I was very young. My education includes a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Bible, and a Master of Divinity degree. I enjoy delving into deep theological issues and always enjoy a healthy debate. But more importantly, I like working with people and helping them to find the answers that they are looking for. And I am convinced that these answers are available in the Bible.


By the grace and mercy of God, I have been saved, born again, adopted into the family of God. God has given me a love for the Bible, and for Bible-related subjects. In addition, He has blessed me with ongoing training in the Scriptures, from my youth on up. The more I learn about God through His Word, the more I want to share!

Campus Crusade for Christ, Grace Church at Willow Valley

Pillsbury Baptist Bible College - B.S. Bible & Pastorology; Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary - M.Div.

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