There are two places noted by the name Rekam in the very bounds of the land, -- to wit, the southern and eastern: that is, a double Kadesh.
I. Of Kadesh, or Rekam, in the south part, there is no doubt.
II. Of it, in the eastern part, there is this mention: "From Rekam to the east, and Rekam is as the east": that is, R. Nissim interpreting, "Rekam itself is reckoned for the east of the world" (that is, for the land of the heathen), "not for the land of Israel." Behold! a Rekam, or a Kadesh, also, on the east. But the maps have feigned to themselves another Kadesh, besides Barnea, and this eastern Rekam; whither, they think, the people of Israel came in the fortieth year of their travel, Numbers 20. These, we suppose, were some of the reasons, whereby the authors of them were drawn to it.
I. Because Kadesh-barnea was in the desert of Paran, Numbers 12:16, 14:1. But the Kadesh, whither they came the fortieth year, was in the desert of Zin, Numbers 20:1. -- I answer, The searchers of the land, departing from Kadesh-barnea, are said, also, to go out of the deserts of Zin, Number 13:21. Paran was the general name of that dreadful desert; Zin only one part of it.
II. In Kadesh-barnea they encamped many days, Deuteronomy 1:46. But in that Kadesh, concerning which mention is made, Numbers 20, there was not provision sufficient, whereby they might be sustained one day. For they complain, that it was a place altogether destitute of seed, figs, vines, and pomegranates, Numbers 20:5: which they did not at all complain of, while they remained in Kadesh-barnea. -- I answer, Omitting, that wheresoever they encamped, they were fed by manna; the complaint arose among them, not so much of the place itself, as of the ill boding and prejudice, as I may so say, of the place; because, from the barrenness of this place, they prejudged of the like barrenness of that land, into which they were to enter, -- and the porch, as it were, of which, was Kadesh-barnea. When they came hither first, now thirty-eight years before, "Ye came to the mountain of the Amorites (saith Moses) which the Lord giveth you," Deuteronomy 1:20,21. 'Is it so?' (think they with themselves) 'Does the first entrance of the land of promise, promise no better? There is little hope of the land itself, if the beginnings of it are such. It is convenient, therefore, that we send before us spies, who may bring us word, whether it is of so great account, that we should tire and hazard ourselves by going to that soil, whose first appearance is so horrid and desperate.' -- And hence was that unhappy argument before their eyes, by the inducement of which the whole multitude, by so unanimous a vote, concluded and resolved against the land. And since now, after so much time passed, they are come back to the same place, they think, distrust, and complain of the same things.
III. In Kadesh-barnea, they had a supply of water; in Kadesh, whither they came the fortieth year, there was no water, Numbers 20, &c. -- I answer, They drank, when they first came to Kadesh-barnea, of the rock, which followed them (1 Cor 10:2), which dried up, when they were now ready to enter into the land. If you ask, Why had those rivers that followed them, dried up, as soon as they came at Kadesh-barnea, which before had not dried up when they came thither; -- then I ask also, Why had they dried up, when they came to another Kadesh?
IV. Concerning the Kadesh, whither they came the last year of their travel, it is said, that the city was in the utmost bounds of the land of Edom: and therefore, they desire leave of the king to pass through the land of Edom, Numbers 20:16,17. -- I answer, Nothing at all hinders, but these things may be spoke of Kadesh-barnea, which lying contiguous to the mountain of the Amorites, that is, to mountainous Judea, showed so great an army an access, and promised it; only that access was winding, and very difficult to be passed. They desire, therefore, a more level way of the king of Edom, but obtain it not.
V. Perhaps that which chiefly moved them, was this; that supposing one Kadesh only, to wit, Barnea, -- it will be scarce possible not to confound the encampings of Israel in the wilderness, and their movings from place to place. -- I answer, There will be the same easiness of ordering them, if you do but reduce the sixth and seventh verses of Deuteronomy 10, into a true sense, and into agreement with Numbers 33 from verses 31 to 41; which is not hard to do. But let these things suffice, for the present, to have spoke besides our scope. That that Kadesh, to which they came in the fortieth year (which is called Meribah, Numbers 20:13), is the same with Kadesh-barnea, is clear enough from hence, -- that Meribah in Kadesh is assigned for the southern border of the land, Ezekiel 47:19; which border of old was Kadesh-barnea, Numbers 34:4; Joshua 15:3.