Biblical Archaeology Review 9:4, July/August 1983

Rain in the Desert

Rain rarely falls in the desert regions of Israel—that is a commonplace assumption. The Sinai, Negev and the Judean wilderness are so dry that inscriptional materials, such as scrolls, have survived for millennia.

But “rarely” is not “never.” Rain does fall in the desert; a few times a year it may even rain very hard.

The desert is a dangerous place—unless you know how to live in it; it becomes especially so when it rains. During the rainy season from mid-October until the end of March, desert dwellers know not to camp in a wadi.a After a rain, a wadi can become a real river; torrents of water can course through it quickly, drowning any people or flocks caught within its banks. Almost every year desert flash floods kill people who did not keep to the high ground.

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