abounding in foliage, or abounding in caverns, (Ge 21:21), a desert tract forming the north-eastern division of the peninsula of Sinai, lying between the 'Arabah on the east and the wilderness of Shur on the west. It is intersected in a north-western direction by the Wady el-'Arish. It bears the modern name of Badiet et-Tih, i.e., "the desert of the wanderings." This district, through which the children of Israel wandered, lay three days' march from Sinai (Nu 10:12,33). From Kadesh, in this wilderness, spies (q.v.) were sent to spy the land (Nu 13:3,26). Here, long afterwards, David found refuge from Saul (1Sa 25:1,4).
EL PARAN. The Et Tih ("the wanderings") desert, N. of the wilderness of Sinai. Israel passed from the latter into Paran on their way N. toward Kadesh. (See KADESH.) (Nu 10:12; 13:26). Paran comprises one third of the peninsula which lies between Egypt and Canaan, the eastern half of the limestone plateau which forms the center of the peninsula. Bounded on the N. by southern Canaan; on the W. by the brook or river of Egypt, parting it from Shur wilderness, the other half of the plateau; on the S. by the great sand belt sweeping across the peninsula in a concave northward line from gulf to gulf, and forming the demarcation between it and Sinai; on the E. by the northern part of the Elanitic gulf, and the Arabah dividing it from the Edom mountains. The Zin (not Sin) wilderness, Canaan's (Nu 34:3) immediate boundary, was its N.E. extremity, from whence Kadesh is spoken of as in Zin wilderness or in Paran (Nu 13:26; 20:1.) In 1Sa 25:1-2 the southern parts of Canaan are called Paran.
The beautiful wady Feiran is probably distinct (Speaker's Commentary, Nu 10:12). Phara, a Roman station between the heads of the two gulfs, takes its name from Paran. Paran is a dreary waste of chalk covered with coarse gravel, black flint, and drifting sand, crossed by watercourses and low horizontal hills. Not so wild looking as the Arabah, nor yet relieved by such fertile valleys as lie amidst the granite mountains of Sinai. Vegetation would probably cover the level plains, which have red clay soil in parts, but for the reckless destruction of trees for charcoal, so that the winter rains run at once to waste. Ishmael's dwelling (Ge 21:21,14; compare Ge 14:6). "Mount Paran" in De 33:2 is the range forming the northern boundary of the desert of Sinai. In De 1:1 Paran is either Mount Paran or a city mentioned, by Eusebius and Jerome near the mountain. The Paran of Hadad the Edomite (1Ki 11:18) lay to N.W. or the Egyptian side of Horeb, between Midian and Egypt. Capt. Burton has found extensive mineral districts in Midian, the northern Being little worked, the southern with many traces of ancient labor, shafting and tunneling.
Silver and copper abound in northern, gold in southern, and turquoise in northern southern, and central Midian. How strikingly accurate are Scripture details! We should never have guessed that a nomadic people like the Midianites would have wrought mines; but research confirms fully the truth of Scripture, which represents them as having ornaments and tablets of gold, and chains for their camels' necks. The spoils from Midian (Nu 31:50-53) included gold (of which was offered to Jehovah 16,750 shekels!), silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead. The gold taken by Gideon from them was so enormous as to suffice for making a golden ephod (Jg 8:24-27). The Haj route from Egypt by Elath to Mecca still runs through the Paran desert. Hadad would take that road to Egypt, "taking men with them out of Paran" as guides through the desert. Seir (Edom and Teman), Sinai, and Paran are comparatively adjacent, and therefore are associated together in God's giving the law (Hab 3:3), as in De 33:2.
The wilderness on the south of Canaan and west of Edom. It was here Ishmael dwelt, and in which was Kadesh, where the Israelites encamped when they sent out the twelve spies, and again near the close of their wanderings. David also at one time took shelter in this wilderness. Ge 21:21; Nu 10:12; 12:16; 13:3,26; De 1:1; 1Sa 25:1; 1Ki 11:18. In De 33:2; Hab 3:3 MOUNT PARAN is spoken of, which doubtless refers to some mount in the same district. Paran is now called et Tih, it lies between Kadesh and Sinai.
PARAN, DESERT OF, a "great and terrible wilderness" which the children of Israel entered after leaving Mount Sinai, Nu 10:12; De 1:19; and in which thirty-eight of their forty years of wandering were spent. It extended from Mount Sinai on the south, to the southern border of the land of Canaan on the north; having the desert of Shur, with its subdivisions, the deserts of Etham and Sin, on the west, and the eastern branch of the Red Sea, the desert of Zin and Mount Seir, on the east. Burckhardt represents this desert, which he entered from that of Zin, or valley of El Araba, about the parallel of Suez, as a dreary expanse of calcareous soil, covered with black flints.