Valley of Baca-Psalm 84:6

Tony Costa tmcos at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 30 07:14:54 EDT 2000


Dear Friends,

  I had a question regarding Psalm 84:6 where it mentions the "Valley of 
Baca". I understand the Hebrew word "BAKA" as a noun means a "balsam-tree" 
according to the BDB Lexicon p.113.This word appears in the plural in 2 Sam 
5:23-23 (1 Chron 14:14-15) I understand there is another word in Hebrew also 
written BAKAH which as a verb means "weep, bewail". This text in the Psalm 
84 is referring to the "pilgrimage" obviously to the Temple Mount in 
Jerusalem because it makes reference to appearing "before God in Zion." 
(vs.7) No doubt this is a pilgrimage to observe one of the High Festivals in 
Jerusalem as commanded in the Torah. Where is the exact location of Baca? I 
noticed as well that the LXX translates the Hebrew word "Baca" as "the 
valley of weeping". Could this translation of "balsam-tree" to "weeping" be 
due to the fact that the words BAKA and BAKAH are homophones and the LXX 
translators may have confused one word for the other? Or are they really 
linguistically related? I noted as well that the Jerusalem Bible translates 
Psalm 84:6 the "Valley of the Weeper". There is a footnote which says "The 
balsam tree; this valley was the last stage of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem."
  As a side note, I have noticed that some Muslims have attempted to make 
the claim that the "Valley of Baca" is really the Valley of Mecca, and that 
the pilgrimage, is really the 'haj' ('Pilgrimage' in Arabic) to Mecca!! I 
think this is a phonetic fallacy on their part, because Jerusalem, not Mecca 
was the centre of worship in ancient Judah. Any comments on this passage 
would be helpful. Thank you.

                                               Tony Costa
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