🔼The name Ben-hur: Summary
- Son Of A Free Man
- From (1) the noun בן (ben), son, and (2) the name Hur, from חרר (harar), to be free.
🔼The name Ben-hur in the Bible
Whether Ben-hur is a Biblical name has been disputed (because the man named Ben-hur might simply have been a "son of Hur", which is what Ben-hur means). But the Hebrew construct ben hur occurs in 1 Kings 4:8, where Ben-hur is mentioned among the twelve deputies of king Solomon of Israel. The only detail we know of this Ben-hur is that he was stationed in the region of Ephraim.
🔼Etymology of the name Ben-hur
The name Ben-hur consists of two elements. The first part is the word בן (ben), generally meaning son:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
The second part of the name Ben-hur is the same as the name Hur. The origin and meaning of the name Hur is not known for sure but that's not because there are no candidates: In fact, there are so many possibilities that we don't know which one is the right one:
The root חרר (harar) describes a society's central and enclosed source of heat. It thus may express a geographical depression, but more so a being hot and ultimately a being a ruler (whether by might, political clout or wisdom).
Verb חרר (harar I) means to be hot, burned or charred. Noun חרר (harer) denotes a parched place and noun חרחר (harhur) describes a violent heat or fever. The unused verb חרר (harar II) means to be free in cognate languages, which is the opposite of being a slave. Noun חר (hor) means noble or nobleman. The unused verb חרר (harar III) appears to refer to the enclosure of kilns and ovens, as the first ones were most likely built in natural hollows. The nouns חר (hor) and חור (hor) mean hole or cavern, but obviously relate to the previous word in that freemen surround themselves with walls and armies.
Verb חרה (hara) means to burn or ignite (in the Bible solely in an emotional way: to get angry). Noun חרון (haron) describes the burning of anger. Noun חרי (hori) refers to a general burning.
Verb חור (hawar) means to be or grow white (like ash or baked bricks). Nouns חור (hur) and חורי (huray) refer to any white stuff, including garments and linen, and noun חרי (hori) describes white bread or cake.
Verb נחר (nahar) looks very much like a passive or reflexive version of חרר (harar) or its participle. This verb isn't used in the Bible but nouns נחר (nahar) and נחרה (naharah) describe the vigorous snorting of a horse, and noun נחיר (nahir) means nostril (which in turn reminds of a cavern).
The name Ben-hur may mean Son Of Hur, or it may mean One Of The Burnings/Nobles/Holes/Whites.
For a meaning of the name Hur, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Cavern. BDB Theological Dictionary says to have no clue, and NOBSE Study Bible Name List either takes the name Hur from another language, or bends the meaning of Noble or Freeman into Splendor.