The Old Testament tells an interesting issue about a place called Paran. It says in Deuteronomy:
And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, Jehovah came from Sinai, And rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: At his right hand was a fiery law for them. (Deuteronomy 33:1-2)
And in the Septuagaint:
33:2 And he said, The Lord is come from Sina, and has appeared from Seir to us, and has hasted out of the mount of Pharan, with the ten thousands of Cades; on his right hand [were] his angels with him.
This prophecy here tells about the three prophets; Moses (Peace be upon him) “The LORD came from Sinai”, then Jesus (Peace be upon him) “and rose up from Seir unto them”, then finally Muhammad ﷺ in the bolded words.
Paran is Mecca
Ishmael Lived in Paran
Paran is Mecca not Sinai and it is where Ishmael (Peace be upon him) lived in as mentioned in Genesis:
Genesis 21:20 And God was with the lad, and he grew. And he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. Gen 21:21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
A Christian commentator wrote about that saying:
God was with the lad, etc. — Paran (that is, Arabia), where his posterity has ever dwelt (compare Gen_16:12; also Isa_48:19; 1Pe_1:25). (Jamisson, Fausset and Brown commentary)
Evidence from Jewish and Christian Sources that Paran is Mecca
According to many Christian and Jewish sources, Paran was interpreted to be in Arabia. We can see first what Strong’s Bible dictionary says about Paran:
From H6286; ornamental; Paran, a desert of Arabia: – Paran. (Source here)
This was emphasized more in the Bible when it says that the descendants of Ishmael (Peace be upon him) were in Arabia not in Sinai:
Genesis 25:18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria. He abode over against all his brethren.
John Gill wrote about it saying:
Gen 25:18 – And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur,…. That is, the posterity of Ishmael, whose country reached from one place to the other; not from India to Chaluza, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; but the extent is that vast desert of Arabia, which eastward was called the wilderness of Havilah, and westward the wilderness of Shur; so that they inhabited it from east to west: (John Gill’s commentary)
And Rabbi Rachi tells in his commentary that Paran in Deuteronomy 33 refers to the Ishmaelites:
“from Mount Paran [Why did God then come from Paran?] Because He went there and offered the children of Ishmael [who dwelled in Paran] to accept the Torah, but they [also] did not want [to accept it].” (Source here)
It may be said that Paran was mentioned somewhere else in other parts, and doesn’t seem from these verses were pointing to Arabia. Actually that doesn’t mean that they is one Paran, for example, there were 2 places called Seir, one is related to the mount of Idumea and the other is related to Palestine as mentioned in the previous prophecy of Isaiah 42.
Ten thousands of Saints with a Fiery Law
The verse says that God shined forth from Mount Paran with ten thousands of saints having a fiery law on their right hand. This was exactly what happened during the conquest of Mecca when Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) came as a conqueror to Mecca after 13 years of persecution in Mecca and 6 years of fighting Muslims in Medina. He finally came to Mecca and purified the Kaaba the house of God from the idols that were built around it and shining Mecca again with the light of Islam. Before Muslims enter Mecca, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) wanted to show to the people of Mecca the power of Muslim army, so he ordered all the army to kindle fire at night. There were 10,000 men each one holding a flame fulfilling the Biblical prophecy: “And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: At his right hand was a fiery law for them.”
Habakkuk, Teman and Paran
Also what proves that Paran is not Sinai in that case is that nothing happened there, even the great nation God promised Ishmael with (Genesis 20:20, 21:18) was certainly in Arabia not Sinai, where in Mecca, the revelation came to Muhammad ﷺ and since then Arabs became a great nation through Islam, the religion of God, that’s why the prophecy was mentioned again in Habakkuk:
Habakkuk 3:3 God came from Teman, And the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of his praise. 4 And his brightness was as the light; He had rays coming forth from his hand; And there was the hiding of his power. 5 Before him went the pestilence, And fiery bolts went forth at his feet.
According to Strong’s Bible Dictionary, Teman is the South:
H8486 tay-mawn’, tay-mawn’
Denominative from H3225; the south (as being on the right hand of a person facing the east): – south (side, -ward, wind). (Source here)
And that’s what Darby’s translation gives:
(DRB) God will come from the south, and the holy one from mount Pharan: His glory covered the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise.
Arabia is well-known to be in the South of Palestine. This answers the objection that the context of Deuteronomy 33 is not talking about a prophecy, as verse 2 was just an introduction, and then it talked about the blessing of Israel throughout the chapter, so emphasizing this point again in Habakkuk proves that it was a prophecy.