Kadesh-Barnea in the Old Testament
Kadesh-Barnea is mentioned 10 times; called also "Kadesh" simply. The name perhaps means "the holy place of the desert of wandering."
There are references to Kadesh in early history. At En-mishpat ("the same is Kadesh") Chedorlaomer and his allies smote the Amalekite and Amorite. Abraham dwelt near Kadesh, and it was at Beer-lahai-roi between Kadesh and Bered that the Angel of Yahweh appeared to Hagar (Gen 14:7; 16:14; 20:1).
It was an important camp of the Israelites during their wanderings, and seems to have been their headquarters for 38 years (Dt 1:2; 2:14; Judith 5:14). There the returning spies found the camp (Nu 13:26); there Miriam died and was buried (Nu 20:1); from thence messengers were sent to the king of Edom (Nu 20:14; Jdg 11:16 ff).
There the people rebelled because of the want of water, and Moses brought water from the rock (Nu 20:2 ff); it was called therefore Meribath--or Meriboth-Kadesh (Nu 27:14; Ezek 47:19; 48:28).
It was situated in the wilderness of Zin (Nu 20:1; 33:36,37) in the hill country of the Amorites (Dt 1:19), 11 days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mt. Seir (Dt 1:2), "in the uttermost" of the border of Edom (Nu 20:16), and on the southern border, probably the Southeast corner, of Judah (Ezek 47:19; compare Judith 19). See Cobern, Homiletic Review, April and May, 1914.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).