The desert, or wilderness, round Mount Sinai in the south of Palestine where the Israelites wandered for ‘forty years’ after leaving Egypt (Deut. 8: 2) was forever in their consciousness, as it was also for the writers of the NT. Jesus' temptations for forty days in the wilderness (Matt. 4: 2 ff.) and his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7) imply a belief in Jesus as the faithful Israelite who fulfils God's purposes. His experiences parallel those of the people in the wilderness and Moses' issue of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

Wild animals lived in the Transjordanian desert (Mark 1: 13) and the area was uninhabited but was not a desert in the sense of the rainless Sahara. There can be such rain that ‘the desert shall rejoice and blossom’ (Isa. 35: 1).