Picture of the Week: Nahal Paran and Wilderness

(Post by Seth M. Rodriquez)

This week’s photo comes from Volume 5 of the revised and expanded edition of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands and is entitled “Wilderness of Paran” (photo ID #: tb042007570).

The Wilderness of Paran is a desert region northwest of the Gulf of Aqaba that today straddles the southern end of the State of Israel and the eastern edge of Egypt.  It appears in the Biblical text as a lonely place outside the Promised Land.  This region is the place where Ishmael and Hagar lived after Abraham sent them away (Gen. 21:20-21).  It is also a place where David sojourned to escape from Saul (1 Sam 25:1), and a place that Hadad the Edomite passed through while he and some other Edomites were fleeing from David and Joab (1 Kgs. 11:14-19).  It is apparent from these passages that this region often served as a safe haven for people who were cast out or were fleeing from danger.

The Wilderness of Paran is also where Israel spent part of their time during the Wilderness Wanderings (Num. 10:12; 12:16).  In fact, this is the fateful area where God’s judgment fell on the people.  While they were encamped here, they sent the twelve spies into the land of Canaan and when ten of the spies brought back a bad report, the people rebelled against the Lord and refused to go into the land (Num. 13:2-3, 26).  Consequently, that generation was doomed to die in the wilderness because they failed to trust in God and obey him.  A photo such as this can enhance the retelling of that key chapter in Israel’s history.

This photo is included in Volume 5 of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands and can be purchased here.  More information about the Wilderness of Paran can be found on the BiblePlaces website here.


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