The southern part of Israel is called the Negev. It is a "tame" desert, with occasional rain in some area, and some land that is valuable for livestock and certain crops.

The arid Negev (Negev means "dry") lies south of the Hebron Mountains that form the southern section of Israel's central mountain range. This desert receives fewer than eight inches of rainfall annually in the north, and less than half that amount in the south. Except for a few settlements that use modern methods to catch rain runoff, only nomads live here.

The northern region of the Negev, from the Hebron Mountains to the Zin Wilderness, is good sheep country. Its rolling hills surround large, broad valleys such as the Valley of Beersheba in which Abraham settled.

The Negev's central region is rugged and cut by deep canyons in the Zin Wilderness. Because the climate and terrain are so inhospitable "even to nomads' at least one scholar has suggested that the "valley of the shadow of death" mentioned in Psalm 23 may refer to the canyons here.

The southern portion of the Negev is called the Wilderness of Paran on the Bible. This region is the most barren of all.