🔼The name Beth-peor: Summary
- House Of The Opening
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the verb פער (pa'ar), to open wide.
🔼The name Beth-peor in the Bible
The town named Beth-peor of Moab is mentioned four times in the Bible, most predominantly as the place near the valley where YHWH buried Moses (Deuteronomy 34:6). In that same valley, Moses had charged Joshua with the leadership of Israel (Deuteronomy 3:29), and where Moses had delivered the Law to the people (Deuteronomy 4:46). When Canaan was divided, this town came to be situated in the territory allotted to Reuben (Joshua 13:20).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-peor
The name Beth-peor consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house:
The noun בית (bayit) means house. It sometimes merely denotes a domestic building, but mostly it denotes the realm of authority of the house-father, or אב (ab). This ab is commonly the living alpha male of a household, but may very well be a founding ancestor (as in the familiar term the "house of Israel"). The אב (ab) may also be a deity, in which case the בית (bayit) is that which we know as a temple.
In the larger economy, a house interacts with other houses. These interactions are governed by the אב (ab), or "father" and executed by the בנים (benim), or "sons": those people living in the house, irrespective of any biological relation with the אב (ab). The "sons" combined add up to אם ('em), which means both "mother" and "tribe".
The second part of our name is the same as the name Peor. It comes from the verb פער (pa'ar), meaning to open wide:
Verb פער (pa'ar) means to open wide. It's used to apply to the mouth but suggests to allude to other bodily cavities. This verb yields no nouns, which suggests that it describes doings out of a kind of hunger or desire rather than merely the mechanics of opening. It that sense it means to desire, to yearn and obviously also to lust.
For a meaning of the name Beth-peor, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads House Of Peor, but for the name Peor it reads Opening. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the clever Temple Of The Hiatus, but also Opening for just Peor. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate this name.