Moab and Edom
25. Desert- (The 'Arabah Valley)
The Greek word "heremia", meaning "desert" in general, here stays for the northern part of the 'Araba Valley which, due to its very hot climate, is in reality mainly desertic. Early reading hypotheses, based only upon drawings, are confirmed by direct checking and recent photographs.
P. O'Callaghan (Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible, ad v. "Madaba", col. 686)
To the south of the Dead Sea, the map of Palmer and of Guthe show this word that is lacking on the map of Vincennes and Jacoby. M. Gold indicated me that after the M we can see the letter I and therefore he proposes the possible lecture of EREMIA. One could oppose that the word "desert" in Hebrew generally indicates the "grassland", but that is referring here to the depression between the Dead Sea and the golf of Aqaba. It is interesting to state that the text A (LXX) of Deut. 2:8 we read " ten hodon ten Araba" but in the text B: " hodon eremon"
Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 43)
M. Gold, who checked the map for P. O´Callaghan, noted an I after the M and suggested the reading eremía 'deserts' meaning the ´Arava´. This suggestion is supported by the fact that there seems to be no place for a proper name between the extant word, the Dead Sea and the Mountains of Judea. A desert of Zoar is, however, specifically mentioned by Cyrillus of Scythopolis.
For more sources and bibliography see:
F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine.I (Paris 1933), s.v. "Arabah", 423.434.
Map Section 4 Place Sources