🔼The name Er in the Bible
There are three men named Er in the Bible:
- The first born son of Judah and the unnamed daughter of Shua (Genesis 38:3). Judah gives Er a wife named Tamar, but Er was no good in the eyes of YHWH and He took his life (Genesis 38:7). Er's brother Onan was to sire children for Er with Tamar, according to the levirate law, but Onan had no mind to raising children that weren't his own, so the Lord smote him too (Genesis 38:10).
- A son of Shelah, a son of Judah (1 Chronicles 4:21).
- A son of Jose and father of Elmadam, according to the Lucan genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:28). Er spelled in Greek is Ηρ.
🔼Etymology of the name Er
The name Er comes from the following root group:
It's by no means certain from which root our name derives. Er is identical in spelling to the name Ar, which is thought to mean City. Still, BDB Theological Dictionary lists it under the root עור ('ur I), and NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names derive our name of that same root (albeit give it the meaning of being alert):
For a meaning of the name Er, NOBSE reads Watching, and Jones has Watcher.
It's doubtful that a Hebrew audience would render this name these or similar same meanings. Perhaps Er was a bit of a bouncy kid and his name indeed has to do with the verb עור, meaning to be aroused (and not being watchful). There are several names that are thought to mean Wild Ass (Jair II, Arad, Arod) and it's much more probable that Er was known as just that.