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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Beor




Beor Beor


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 Dead Sea. Secondly as the father of Balaam of Pethor (Numbers 22:5), which is in Aram Naharayim (Deuteronomy 23:4), meaning Aram of the Two Rivers. This is traditionally interpreted to be Mesopotamia, but more recent research suggests 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:

Bela

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's highly 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 (v33).

The name Beor looks like it has to do with any of the roots baar (ba'ar I, II & III):

The Hebrew verb baar (ba'ar I) means to burn, consume, but most often used in a figurative sense to describe anger, passion, intrigue, etc. In Hebrew there are a few verbs and nouns that describe fire, but ba'ar "stresses the consuming and contagious qualities of fire especially in the religious context" (HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament ).
The noun beera (be'era), fire, occurs only once, and that in close proximity to the verb: Exodus 22:6, "...he who kindled the fire shall repay."

The Hebrew verb baar (ba'ar II) means to be brutish (Jeremiah 10:8, Isaiah 19:11). An obvious derivation is the noun baar (ba'ar), a brute, brutish person. BDB Theological Dictionary lists beir (be'ir), beasts, cattle under ba'ar , but HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament lists it under ba'ar . Both, however, emphasize that this word has nothing to do with the rare usage of the verb ba'ar in the sense of some animal 'grazing' someone's field (Exodus 22:4) the way a fire would (note the same verb meaning burn in v6). HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament declares this word 'simply' an alternative synonym for behema (behema) or miqneh (miqneh), both meaning cattle. BDB Theological Dictionary lists equivalents in cognate languages, apparently to suggest that beir (be'ir) was not derived of root baar but rather grafted upon it.

The Hebrew verb baar (ba'ar III) was, until recently, considered part of baar (ba'ar I) but lately it is viewed separately (or so sayeth HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). This is, of course, tremendously clever, but one may wonder if the Hebrews themselves knew about this. This completely separate root baar (ba'ar III) occurs twenty-seven times and mostly denotes a removal of evil from the land. That this removal became typically depicted as purification by fire has apparently no bearing on the discussion of where 264.1 came from.

The name Beor may mean any of the above. BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBS Study Bible Name List both read A Burning. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders Torch, or Lamp.

A related name is Baara.






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