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Is the name of the Prophet Muhammad or Ahmad mentioned in the Bible? Does Jesus predict the coming of Muhammad in the Bible?

This video (part 2) is an example of this claim. Here is a quote of a similar claim:

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon chapter 5 verse 16:

"Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh WA Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem."

Translation:"His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is Mohammad. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."

In the Hebrew language im is added for respect. Similarly im is added after the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to make it Muhammadim. In English translation they have even translated the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as "altogether lovely", but in the Old Testament in Hebrew, the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is yet present.

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3 Answers 3

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Quite simply, no. The claim in the video series you linked is patently ridiculous.1

What is being claimed?

The argument presented in your videos is based entirely on the following passage in the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon.

Song of Solomon 5:16 (ASV)2
16  His mouth is most sweet; Yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

I have highlighted the phrase in question here. The claim in the video is that the phrase translated here as altogether lovely is actually the proper name "Mohammed" with a respectful plural ending and is incorrectly translated to its meaning. The video (and several other sites on the net) suggest taking the root Hebrew word מחמד into an online translator. The results they show have two machine translation sites returning "Mohamed" as the result.3

Why doesn't this mean anything?

The flaw in this argument is that it proves absolutely nothing. To show why, I will give some translation examples from a language I know well. While it is relatively rare in English with our mish-mash of nationalities, in many languages even today (and even more so through history) it is common for proper names to be based words with straight forward meanings in their native tongues. I have Turkish friends with names like Güven, Gül, Nehir and Pınar. In the previous sentences I capitalized them and from the context it is clear that those words refer to people, but these are the ordinary everyday words for trust, rose, river and spring respectively. In fact most of the people I know have names with similar ordinary meanings.

If I were to say "Güven çiçekçiden bir gül aldı," (Güven bought a rose from the florist) there is absolutely no question from the context that I am using Güven as a proper name and gül as a type of flower. You don't even need the capitalization or know my friends names. The immediate context of the words makes it clear how they are being used.

Back to your videos. The accusation is raised that "we have no right to translate names". This is, in itself, true. You will note that in the English translation I provided for the Turkish sentence above, I have done the work of interpreting it for you and retained the proper names but translated the words with ordinary meanings. If I had given the translation as "Trust bought a Gül from the florist", my competence with the language must be called into question. The issue before us is when to translate a word as a name and when to give the meaning. For this, we need the context and to understand the thing we're translating in the first place.

What does the context tell us?

Song of Solomon is a notoriously difficult book to translate. The Hebrew is difficult and sometimes obscure. Even when you sort out the words, it is difficult to interpret what it is all supposed to mean. Jews and Christians differ widely on what to do with the passage, and even among Christian traditions there is some debate as to what the imagery refers to.

However, those interpretation difficulties do not concern us here. Whether or not the passage was intended as an allegory or a plain description, it is clear that the immediate context of the passage is a woman addressing her lover. Even with two different religions claiming this as a holy text and vast differences in interpretation, the simple translation of these particular words has never really been in doubt because the face value translation of מחמד to mean lovely fits the context of both the sentence and the book.

The verses leading up to this are in the voice of the woman describing the physical characteristics of her man. His hair, his eyes, his legs, etc. are all described in terms of appeal and desire. Verse 16 starts out talking about how sweet his mouth is and then says that he is desirable as a whole. Given the context and the time it was written, there is not a shred of evidence this should be translated any other way than it has been in every one of hundreds of languages by thousands of translators.

And the Hebrew?

One of the basic claims in the video is that the -im suffix used on the Hebrew root word should be seen as a respectful plural just as it is in Arabic, where saying "Mohammed-im" does apparently4 have that effect.

According to Gesenius (the standard Hebrew Grammar), the respectful plural is quite foreign to Hebrew. The "let us" passages of Genesis, which many take as plural of majesty, Gesenius takes as self deliberation.

In the verse above, the word מַחְמַד is correctly being translated 'lovely' and the suffix that makes the contextual form of מַחֲמַדִּים is a plural that intensifies the meaning, rendering the final translation 'altogether lovely'. This is not out of place. In fact the entire poem has similar constructs, including the previous line of the same verse. 'Very sweet' is one word, ממתקים, the root ממתק means 'sweet' and the plural makes it 'exceedingly sweet' or 'very sweet'.5 It is utterly irresponsible to take this standard grammar form that translates consistently as an intensifier on a series of adjective and render the final instance as a proper name just because it sounds like one in a later language and translate the suffix as a respectful plural according to the later language rather than the one in which it was written.

But why does it sound the same?

Lots of words in one language might be combined as a series of sounds and understood as something entirely different in another language. The videos include the sound of a Jewish Rabbi reading Hebrew text in question. To an ear that does not speak Hebrew, the combination of sounds making up the name Mohammed are clearly in there.

Linguistically, this is just as absurd as the other line of reasoning. Just because a combination of sounds appearing in the normal course of a language sounds like something else in another language doesn't make it so. If I asked somebody on the street in Turkey "Where can I find a peach?" (in English), they might look at me strange because they only word they heard in their own language was "bastard".

Just because what used to be a root word in one language ends up sounding like a proper name in a later language does not mean that every instance of the original root word is a reference to a famous figure with the later name. The connection simply doesn't mean anything.

And Jesus?

Your question includes a one liner concerning a claim not actually found in your video:

Does Jesus predict the coming of Muhammad in the Bible?

The simple answer to this is no. It is difficult to debunk this "claim" since you haven't even established in the question what the claim is, but let me do your homework for you. The Islamic Research Foundation makes the following claim which you will hear echoed throughout the Muslim world in various forms:

"Ahmed" or "Muhammad" meaning "the one who praises" or "the praised one" is almost the translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the Gospel of John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7. The word 'Comforter' is used in the English translation for the Greek word Paracletos which means advocate or a kind friend rather than a comforter. Paracletos is the warped reading for Periclytos. Jesus (pbuh) actually prophesised Ahmed by name. Even the Greek word Paraclete refers to the Prophet (pbuh) who is a mercy for all creatures.

As far as I know, this is the only place the NT or Jesus is commonly claimed to mention Mohamed. I presume is is the subject of your inquiry.

This claim, like the one above, is also patently ridiculous. There are several other variants of this, but they all hinge on really poor linguistics. Determining the meaning of the Greek word παράκλητος in context is not easy. Greek scholar Raymond Brown is often cited by Muslim apologists on this issue because his translation of John keeps a transliteration of the Greek as a sort of name instead of translating the meaning (as most other English translations have done) and rendering it as helper, advocate, comforter or counselor. However, his intention was to clear up the usage and understand it better in context. His understanding of who/what fills the role referred to can be clearly seen from this quote:

Thus the basic function of the Paraclete are twofold: he comes to the disciples and dwells within them, guiding and teaching them about Jesus; but he is hostile to the world and puts the world on trial.

Whether Christian or secular, Greek scholars investigating this passage all conclude that this passage must be understood in context with the related passages from the same authors and time period that describe the coming of the Holy Spirit. Whether you believe in such a thing at all, it is clear that the disciples did based on Jesus words, and that Jesus words as recorded in Greek fit with their contemporary understanding.

Only a series of linguistic flying-leaps can connect this usage with another word in another language that doesn't sound the same but happens to have a similar meaning. Here is a similar series of connections:

My name is derived from a Hebrew name having a connotation of "faithful". The Turkish for faithful is "sadık" which sounds a lot like "sağdıç" meaning groomsmen. Ergo my parents predicted that their son would be somebody's faithful best man.

There are just too many unsupported jumps for this claim to hold water. Even the text from the IRF is worded with tentative phases such as "almost the translation of". They are making the jump from two words in two unrelated languages that have similar meanings to one being a prophecy of the other -- in spite of other solid contextual evidence about the intended meaning being to the contrary.

Footnotes

  1. Frankly this particular claim is one of the weaker ones made. There are several other verses more commonly cited as "proof" that hold more water than this one. There is an Isaiah verse with a similar translation issue. The case holds "more" water because at least it happens to be a prophecy, but still sinks because of the translation issue explained above.

  2. The usage of the ASV translation here was selected at random, the English translation used makes absolutely no difference to the argument. No serious translation work has translated this passage in any other way.

  3. While legitimate as far as it goes, I think it's somewhat telling that given the same input Google translator returns a clue in the form of the noun roots loveliness, delight, desire or charm.

  4. I didn't research the Arabic here, I'm only going off of the popular claim.

  5. Thanks to Frank Luke for some help with the Hebrew grammar here.

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    Some sources seem to indicate that the etymology of the name Mohamad, is akin to the word Mahmad (lovely), which would explain the shared root and similar pronunciation.
    – Ofir
    Feb 17, 2016 at 13:11
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This claim is false.

It is a simple matter to search the entire contents of the Bible. Doing so will reveal no occurrences of the words Muhammad or Ahmad or any of their spelling variants. Anyone even slightly familiar with the New Testament will know that there is no passage in which Jesus predicts Muhammad or anyone who remotely resembles him.

The videos appear to be referring to the Gospel of Barnabas. The Gospel of Barnabas has never been part of the Christian Bible. It contradicts all of the early Christian documents in many ways, follows a remarkably Islamic point of view, and includes a passage in which Jesus predicts Muhammad. No manuscripts of this gospel, or any indication of its contents, exist from before the 16th Century. (There are mentions of a Gospel of Barnabas from the 6th Century - still much later then the canonical gospels - but we have no way of knowing if this is the same document.)

There is a claim that an allegedly ancient book found recently in Turkey contains the Gospel of Barnabas. However nobody has been able to analyse this book, either to prove its age or to see if it really does contain a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas. Even if both of these turned out to be true, it would not make the Gospel of Barnabas a part of "The Bible".

EDIT:The bit about the Song of Solomon was added to the question after I wrote this. Please see Caleb's answer to that, and vote it up.

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    The Bible which you are linking is an English one , Jesus did not speak in English, you have not even attempted to answer the question. The question clearly alludes to the aramaic\hebrew wordings of the verse.
    – user11777
    Oct 13, 2013 at 15:06
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    While I agree that the claim is false (as Caleb's answer shows) there is a mistake in your answer - in the Hebrew Bible, Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 16, the text is nearly identical to the quote in the question. It may be transliterated as Hikko, mamtakim, vekulo, maHmadim; zeh dodi vezeh re'i, benot yerushalam.. Hebrew readers can see for themselves here for example.
    – G0BLiN
    Sep 8, 2014 at 16:28
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No.

According to the claim, the verse in SoS says:

Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh WA Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem.

No, it does not. It says:

חִכּוֹ֙ מַֽמְתַקִּ֔ים וְכֻלּ֖וֹ מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים זֶ֤ה דוֹדִי֙ וְזֶ֣ה רֵעִ֔י בְּנ֖וֹת יְרוּשָׁלָֽ͏ִם׃

They are transliterating...

מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים is what they tranliterate as "Mohammad". The beauty of Hebrew is it's very mechanical - the last two letters (Yod Mem) are plural so then if they are correct, it would be Muhammeds.

Taking the h there that would be equivalent of the Hebrew letter hey which looks like "ה" when in fact the Hebrew is the letter Het ח. This is transliterated usually either ch or kh - it's a gutteral h.

The have changed the letter to get it to fit into MHMD.

If you search Google and Arabic alphabets you'll find the Arabic is the equivalent.

Because Hebrew is so mechanical in the way it works, including two and three letter roots, the vast majority of most words in the Tanach / Old Testament are repeated so you can see what word means in other contexts. The three letter root, MHKhD, you lose the first m. It is common in Hebrew to addg an M in front of the letter. All words in Hebrew stem from their roots. The core meaning of this thee letter root is "covet; value and desire"

What are the exact verses? (I will put in the three-letter root bold):

  • Gen 3:6 וְנֶחְמָ֤ד; translated desirable
  • Exodus 20:17 תַחְמֹ֞ד; translated covet, as in the "do not covet" of the Ten Commandments
  • Psalm 39:12 חֲמוּד֑וֹ; translated beauty.
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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 30, 2023 at 11:41
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    Note: Postulating without references that someone would make certain arguments based on them being Muslim is both a strawman fallacy and Islamophobic. Do not repeat this.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 30, 2023 at 11:41
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    "Taking the h there that would be equivalent of the Hebrew letter hey which looks like "ה" when in fact the Hebrew is the letter Het ח." This part is not really correct. Mohammad is of course a transliteration too; the Arabic name is محمد, which has a "ح" not an "H". And the letter ح is the "equivalent" of the Hebrew ח. You can see this when looking at cognates in Hebrew and Arabic like حكيم - חכם, or حامِض - חָמוּץ, or place names like حيفا - חיפה. The Arabic "equivalent" of ה is ه, as in the place name رهط -רַהַט or the cognates هيلل - הלל
    – Juhasz
    Nov 30, 2023 at 18:03
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    To add to @Juhasz's answer, Mohammad is written in Hebrew as מוחמד or מחמד with a ח, not a ה. This doesn't mean that מחמדים means Mohammads in the song, just that this point is not true. That's why you need to add sources in your answers, non Hebrew speakers have no means of knowing your proficiency with the language.
    – SIMEL
    Nov 30, 2023 at 18:48
  • In case anyone is wondering, the part that Oddthinking considers to be Islamophobic was removed in an edit by Oddthinking. Dec 1, 2023 at 4:31

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