Rivers in the Desert is the title of Nelson Glueck’s 1959 history of the Negev. These rivers also may be seen in the Judean wilderness and in the Sinai. Thomas Levy followed up on some of Glueck’s research in a Biblical Archaeology Review article in 1990.
If one travels in the desert during the summer months he will see a dry, desolate bad land with only an isolated tamarisk tree or shrub where the last water of the winter rain flowed. In the winter it can be different. Israel has two dominant seasons: winter and summer. The summer is dry and the winter is wet. The early rains begin about mid-October and continue till the late rains of early April. See Deuteronomy 11:14 and Joel 2:23.
Levy reminds us that “Nahal, incidentally, is Hebrew for a dry river bed or valley that flows at most a few times a year. In Arabic, the word is wadi. The two words are used interchangeably in Israel today.” The wadi is similar to the arroyo of the American southwest.
While traveling south of Beersheba, yesterday and today, we crossed the Wadi Zin (Joshua 13:21ff.) at least three times in each direction we traveled.
Here is what the Wadi looks like when it is dry.
And this marker on the highway shows travelers the depth of the water when the wadi is flooded. The person in the photo is six feet tall. The marker goes to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet), and the pole is higher.
For more pictures, including rivers in the desert during the rain season, see here.