Kedesh was first documented in the Book of Joshua as a Canaanite citadel that was conquered by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua. Ownership for Kedesh was turned over, by lot, to the tribe of Naphtali and subsequently, at the command of God, Kedesh was set apart by Joshua as one of the Cities of Refuge along with Shechem and Kiriath Arba (Hebron) (Joshua 20:7).
Between 145 BC and 143 BC Kedesh (Cades) was overthrown by Jonathan Maccabeus in his fight against the Seleucid king Demetrius I Soter  . It remains abandoned until this day. Tel Kedesh continues to be excavated by the University of Michigan.