Twice in the Scriptures (
PARAN pâr’ ən (פָּארָ֑ן). A broad central area of desert in the Sinai Peninsula. It is to be distinguished from three smaller peripheral districts: the wilderness of Shur in the NW, bordering Egypt; the wilderness of Sinai, in the southern tip of the peninsula; and the wilderness of Zin, in the NE between Kadesh-barnea and the Arabah trough.
Consequently, there is some overlap in the rather vaguely defined boundaries of Paran. The whole area is some 23,000 square m., divisible into three main topographical sections. In the wilderness of Shur, to the N, lie wide open sandy plains and the dune-fringed coast. Paran is bordered to the S by ranges of hills or isolated groups such as the Moghara, Jelleg, and Hellal. The central area consists of elevated sedimentary tablelands, collectively called the “Jebel at Tih.” This is the great “desert of the wanderings,” rising from 3,900 to 5,290 ft. above sea level, terminating in the S in the high plateau of Egma. All this area, over half of the total drainage area of the Sinai Peninsula, is drained by the Wadi al’Arish and its seasonal tributaries into the Mediterranean. To the S of these tablelands are the crystalline mountains of southern Sinai (see Mount Sinai), a deeply dissected landscape of gorges and mountain blocks. The eastern edge of the Sinai peninsula is intensely broken up into dissected hills, trough faults, and wadi floors—a wild assortment of landforms impossible to describe in detail.
N. Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (1959); Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas (1968), Map No. 48.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
pa’-ran, (pa’ran, ’el-pa’ran; Pharan):
(1) El-paran (
(2) Many places named in the narrative of the wanderings lay within the Wilderness of Paran (
(3) Mount Paran (
(4) Some place named Paran would seem to be referred to in