The name Beor in the Bible
The name Beor is applied twice in the Bible:
- First as the name of the father of Bela, the first king of Edom (Genesis 36:32), which lies due south of the Salt Sea.
- Secondly as the father of Balaam of Pethor (Numbers 22:5). The apostle Peter calls this man Βοσορ (Bosor).
Balaam's father Beor was from Pethor, which is situated in Aram-naharaim (Deuteronomy 23:4), meaning Aram of the Two Rivers. This Aram of the Two Rivers is traditionally interpreted to be Mesopotamia, but recent research suggests that this Aram-naharaim is the Jordan/Jabbok region. See the discussion under Pethor.
Because some consider Pethor to be located in Canaan, it becomes rather tempting to suggest that the Beor/Bela couple of Edom is in fact the same as the Beor/Balaam couple of Pethor:
In the Edom king-list of Genesis 36 we see kings being imported from all over the place (even from, what do you know, the Euphrates—36:37). However, in Numbers 20:14 Edom is already a kingdom. The king of Edom refuses Israel passage, and even comes out with an armed force against Israel. It seems unlikely that the nerdy, donkey-riding Balaam of two chapters later is the same as Edom's valiant first king Bela, who stayed king onto his death (36:33).
Etymology of the name Beor
The name Beor looks like it has to do with any of the roots בער (ba'ar I, II & III):
The name Beor may mean any of the above. BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBSE Study Bible Name List both read A Burning. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders Torch, or Lamp.