1. A wilderness through which the Israelites traveled en route to Canaan; not synonymous with the Wilderness of Sin. (Nu 33:11, 36) In the second year after Israel’s leaving Egypt, 12 Israelites spied out the Promised Land, starting out from the Wilderness of Zin. At that time the Israelites were encamped at Kadesh. (Nu 13:21, 26) Later, after having wandered in the wilderness for years, the Israelites arrived at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin the second time. This area of the Wilderness of Zin was desolate, unsown, lacking figs, vines, pomegranates, and water. (Nu 20:1-5; compare Nu 20:28; 33:38; De 1:3.) It was in connection with the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin that Moses and Aaron failed to sanctify Jehovah before the people and lost the privilege of entering the Promised Land.—Nu 27:12-14; De 32:50, 51.
The Wilderness of Zin was “alongside Edom” (being immediately W of Edom) and at the SE extremity of Judah’s assigned territory. (Nu 34:3; Jos 15:1) Since Kadesh was located in the wilderness areas of Zin and of Paran (Nu 13:26; 20:1), possibly these were adjoining wilderness regions, or that of Zin may have been part of the more extensive Wilderness of Paran.
2. Twice “Zin” appears without the term “wilderness.” In these cases, it may designate a presently unidentified town in S Judah between the ascent of Akrabbim and Kadesh-barnea and from which the surrounding wilderness drew its name. Or it may mean the Wilderness of Zin itself.—Nu 34:4; Jos 15:3.