Kadesh means holiness, and is a name incorporated into the biblical name Kadesh Barnea, south of Israel, [located] at Ain Quadis at wadi Quadis (Holy) where the encampment of Israel resided for some considerable time. It was at Kadesh Barnea that decisions were made that both led to further wandering in the wilderness to ultimate prescribed death, and later where the nation would set their face to go to their inheritance. Interestingly the Arabic for Jerusalem is el-Khuds, the holy. It has been suggested that there may be more than one Kadesh as indicated in the wilderness of Paran from Numbers 13:21,26 and in the wilderness of Zin Num 20:1, but the intent of the travel had changed, and so the name varies.
Kadesh on the Orontes is an interesting place because it was from here that the political landscape of the middle east was to be painted, for at Kadesh the largest chariot battle of all times was fought. Here the forces of Rameses II from Egypt and the Hittite forces of Muwartalli II came to blows in 1274BC. This became a tradition of using the land of Israel as a conduit for the Egyptian forces to take on northern forces, and vice versa. A later example seen in Pharoah Necho and the Babylonians.
At the end of the battle, both the Egyptians and the Hittites licked their wounds, went home, and there was a period of time where there was no aggression again in the middle east from either of these superpowers. The Kadesh treaty, now immortalised in the foyer of the UN building was written to commemorate this event. The document declares that the Egyptians would not harm the Hittites, and the Hittites the Egyptians, and that if either was attacked, they would come to their aid. This was a brave face on a bad picture. The reality was neither had the will power or resources to mount another effective campaign.
Some years later, and only a short distance from here at Riblah, Nebuchadnezzar also camped his armies, seeking to dominate the agricultural fertility and the natural control of the major entry points in the middle east. In particular both these sites control the fertility of the Orontes. The Orontes flows from a watershed point in the middle of the Beqa, north of Baalbek, and known today as Nahr al Asi, it is an unusual river, which like the Nile flows to the north, whereas almost every other major river flows south. It watered the vast Orontes river and the Ghab to the north, once considered alongside the plains of Libya the bread baskets of the roman world, and so densely vegetated then that it was considered in places the domain of wild elephant!
There were cities built in the time of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt and it was most likely their efforts that was to build the city known by the Pharaoh’s name Ramases see Gen 47:11; Ex 1:11. Ramases II was a prolific builder, and the large statue of Ramases II outisde Cairo is an attestment to his structural largesse. The previous control of Egypt of Israel and southern Jordan at the time of the Armana Letters (ca1350-1330BC) was removed under the rule of Ramases II. In the divine economy this allowed the development of the nation of Israel without repressing hostile super-power, especially important in the recipient form of the nation.