Bible Meaning: Holy, sanctuary, desert of a fugitive
Strong's Concordance #H6946, #H6947
The KJV Old Testament names Kadesh-barnea, Kadesh, Enmishpat (Strong's #H5880 meaning spring or fountain of judgment, see Genesis 14:7), Meribah-kadesh (Deuteronomy 32:51) and Meribah (Strong's #H4809 meaning "strife" or "contention") refer to the same place.
Kadesh was in the extreme southern section of what would become the land God would give the tribe of Judah as an inheritance in Canaan (Joshua 15:3). It was located between the wildernesses of Paran and Zin (Numbers 13).
The area is noteworthy as one of the first battlegrounds in the first war discussed in Scripture. Chedorlaomer and his allied forces, after a string of victories that loosely followed the King's Highway, defeated the Amalekites at Kadesh-barnea (Genesis 14:5 - 7).
The Israelites, in the second year after leaving Egyptian slavery, move their massive camp to Kadesh (Numbers 13). It is from this area that Moses sent out twelve spies in a secret fact-finding mission into the Promised Land. The faithless report from ten of the twelve returning spies dooms all Israelites, twenty years old or older, to dying in the wilderness and not entering their inheritance (Numbers 14). Korah's rebellion against Moses' leadership also took place at this location (Numbers 16 - 17).
Miriam, in 1406 B.C. (one year before the Israelites enter the Promised Land), dies at Kadesh (Numbers 20:1). It was shortly after her passing that Moses and Aaron strike a rock to retrieve water but do not give God all the glory and credit for the miracle. God penalizes both men for their sin by not allowing them to enter their inheritance in Canaan (Numbers 20).
Genesis 14:5 - 7
And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.
Numbers 13:17, 26
And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain . . .
And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh: and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh: and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
Deuteronomy 1:1, 43, 45 - 46
These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, and went presumptuously up into the hill . . .
And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you. So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
Joshua 15:1, 3
This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast . . . And it went out to the south side to Maalehacrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadesh-barnea . . .