In a desperate attempt to biblically legitimise their pilgrimage to Mecca, some Muslim apologists quote Psalm 84:5-6
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.”
In Sura 3:96, the Quran uses the name “Bekka” (or Bakka) for Mecca:
“The first House established for the people was that at Bekka, a place holy, and a guidance to all beings.”
For this reason, Muslims argue that Psalm 84 is talking about pilgrimage to Mecca, consequently identifying Yahweh with the Allah of Islam.
I have encountered this argument a number of times from Muslims, but it’s absolutely false on several levels.
First of all, the Hebrew word in vs. 5 is mesillot and it means “ways” or “highway” not pilgrimage. The Hebrew word “mesillot” has no linguistic link whatsoever with the Arabic word “hajj.”
Furthermore vs. 7 says “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” This simply means that the destination of the people mentioned in vs. 5 – if we take it literally – is Zion, which is Jerusalem, not Mecca or Arabia.
According to Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the valley of Baca mentioned in the verse is “a valley in Canaan, thought by some scholars to be the same place as the Valley of Rephaim (2 Sam. 5:22-24; Ps. 84:6)” (ed. Ronald Youngblood, Thomas Nelson, 1995, 153).
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 1, 402) says of Baca: “Hebrew: baka (Ps. 84:6); NEB ‘thirsty valley.’ A valley so named because it contained trees that exuded resins or gums, perhaps several species of balsam. The valley of Rephaim has been suggested, but the identification is uncertain (cf. S. 5:23f; 1 Ch. 14:14f).”
The Lion Handbook to the Bible (1983, p. 344) says “Baca: possibly an actual valley the pilgrim passes on his way to Jerusalem. But New English Bible ‘the thirsty valley’ gives the sense.”
Scholars point out that the Hebrew word ba-kha comes from a root meaning “weep” (cf. Gen. 21:16). It therefore seems to indicate a plant, shrub or tree producing gums or its usage may have been symbolic of the valley of weeping.
To suggest that Baca in the Bible means Mecca is not only a phonetic fallacy, but also based on ignorance and mischief.
One Muslim quoted John 4:19-21 to me as “proof of hajj in the Bible” but reading the proceeding verses blows his theory into shreds:
22 “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
This is the reason Christians don’t face a black stone, temple or a particular direction during prayer.
That’s why we don’t need to travel to Jerusalem, Mecca or Rome in order to worship God, because true worship is spiritual and founded on truth. Spiritual worship is not based on a geographical location or rituals.
African Muslims have better stones in their countries, cities and towns, but they are still mandated to spend so much money and risk their lives to travel to dance around and kiss a dirty Arabian stone.
They are even promised a first class ticket to paradise if they die in Mecca. Such a gross deception and nationalistic fetish is an exploitation of ignorance.
The Greek word for “worship” in John 4 is “proskunountas” and it means “to do reference to” (Strong #4352). It never means “hajj” or pilgrimage.
Even more than a point, the Allah of Islam is not a “Father” much less “Spirit.” It’s blasphemy to address him so in Islam. Therefore, any Muslim trotting out these verses is shooting himself in the leg theologically.
Muslims also quote Micah 4:1-2:
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come let us go to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
This prophecy is also repeated in Isaiah 2:2-4. This is speaking of the earthly millennial rule of Christ from Jerusalem. Nothing here or elsewhere speaks of pilgrimage to Mecca. In fact, this can’t be the same as “the Valley of Baca.”
On the one hand, Muslims claim that “the Bible has been corrupted” but when they want to trace the ‘history’ of their religion, they don’t go to the Vedas or Puranas, they go straight to the Bible they claim is “corrupted.”
So, with a semantic juggling at one point, a partial quotation at another and brazen interpolations elsewhere, the Muslim is compelled to uphold the myths of the Quran or the entire raft of his religion crumbles!