🔼The name Beor: Summary
- A Burning, A Consuming
- From the verb בער (ba'ar), to consume or clean out.
🔼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; spelled בער in Numbers 24:3 and 24:15). The apostle Peter calls this man Βοσορ (Bosor; 2 Peter 2:15).
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 is clearly similar to the verb בער (ba'ar):
The verb בער (ba'ar) seems to essentially mean to consume or clean out. Noun בערה (be'era) is a rare word for fire; it literally means consumer or that which consumes. Noun בעיר (be'ir) denotes cattle, and particularly cattle that would graze whole fields clean.
The verb essentially means to consume but covers a broad pallet, ranging from being beastly stupid to raging madly to be purifying as fire. It often denotes the removal of evil.
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.