As the birthplace of Muhammad s.a.w.s and a site of the revelation of the Quran, Makkah is regarded as the holiest city in Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims.
Makkah was long ruled by Muhammad’s descendants, the sharifs, either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger empires. It was absorbed into Saudi Arabia in 1925. Makkah has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, t oday, more than 15 million Muslims visit Makkah annually, non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
The ancient or early name for the site of Makkah is Bakkah (also transliterated Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, etc.). It is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the Kaaba.
The original Hebrew language phrase for the Valley of Baca is emeq ha-Baka. It can also be translated as “Valley of the Balsam Tree” or “Valley of the Weeper”.Bakkah is where Hagar and Ishmael settled after being taken by Abraham to the wilderness, a story related in the Bible’s Book of Genesis(21:14-21).
Genesis tells of how after Hagar and Ishmael ran out of water to drink. In Arab tradition, Hagar runs back and forth between two elevated points seven times to search for help before sitting down in despair, at which point the angel speaks as recorded in Genesis 21:17-19:God heard the cry of the boy, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water and let the boy drink. 
Here, the tradition holds that a spring gushed forth from the spot where Hagar had laid Ishmael, and this spring came to be known as the Well of Zamzam.
It is also believed that Hagar and Ishamel settled in Bakkah, and the Quran relates that Abraham came to Mecca to help his son Ishmael build the Kaaba adjacent to the well of Zamzam.
The Valley of Baca is mentioned in Psalm 84 of the Bible in the following passage:How lovely is Your dwelling-place, O Lord of Hosts. I long, I yearn for the courts of the Lord; my body and soul shout for joy to the living God … Happy are those who dwell in Your house; they forever praise You. Happy is the man who finds refuge in You, whose mind is on the [pilgrim] highways. They pass through the Valley of Baca, regarding it as a place of springs, as if the early rain had covered it with blessing … Better one day in Your courts than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather stand at the threshold of God’s house than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Image owners in order, Makkah Hilton Hotel, Raeid Allehyani, Photographer unknown found via google, Hamza Gazzaz, Wejdan Al Dossary, photographer unknown found via google. Text: wikipedia
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