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PHARAN or PARAN (Φαράν), the name of a desert S. of Palestine, between this country and Aegypt. (Gen. 21.21; 1 Kings, 11.18.) It is usually identified with the Wady Feirân, a beautiful and well watered valley, surrounded by mountains, NW. of Sinai, and near the western arm of the Red Sea (Niebuhr, Reisebeschreibung, vol. i. p. 240, Arabien, p. 402); but though Feirân may have preserved the ancient name of the desert, it appears from Numbers (10.12, 33, 13.26) that the latter was situated in the desert of Kadesh, which was upon the borders of the country of the Edomites, and which the Israelites reached after their departure from Mt. Sinai, on their way towards the land of Edom. (Burckhardt, Syria, p. 618.)

In the Wady Feirân are the remains of an ancient church, assigned to the fifth century, and which was the seat of a bishopric as early as A.D. 400. (Robinson, Biblical Researches, vol. i. p. 186.) This city is described under the name of Feirân by the Arabic Edrisi, about A.D. 1150, and by Makrizi about A.D. 1400. (Burckhardt, Syria, p. 617.) It is apparently the same as Pharan Φαράν), described by Stephanus B. (s. v.) as a city between Aegypt and Arabia, and by Ptolemy (5.17. § § 1, 3) as a city of Arabia Petraea near the western arm of the Red Sea. A species of amethyst found in this valley had the name of Pharanitis. (Plin. Nat. 37.9. s. 40.) The valley of Pharan mentioned by Josephus (B. J. 4.9.4) is obviously a different place from the Wady Feirân, somewhere in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, and is perhaps conconnected with the desert of Paran, spoken of above. (Robinson, Biblical Researches, vol. i. p. 552.)

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 37.9
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