🔼The name Hamor: Summary
- Red One, Rudiment
- From the verb חמר (hamar), to begin to flow slowly.
🔼The name Hamor in the Bible
There's only one Hamor mentioned in the Bible and he was a Hivite ruler (נשיא, nasi') and father of Shechem (in Acts 7:16, Stephen equates Hamor with Ephron). When Jacob returned from Paddan-aram and wanted to settle in Canaan, he bought land from Hamor and built the altar named El-Elohe-Israel (Genesis 33:19).
At some point, Jacob's only daughter Dinah, the sister of the twelve tribal patriarchs of Israel, went to the nearby town of Shechem to visit the Hivite women. She was noticed by prince Shechem, who fell in love with her and decided to express his feelings by raping her (34:2). Still, Hamor went to Jacob to ask for Dinah as a wife for Shechem, but Jacob's sons told Hamor that he and his people would have to be circumcised for their two families to intermarry.
When the men of Shechem were incapacitated from being circumcised, Dinah's full brothers Simeon and Levi killed Hamor and Shechem and everybody else they could find (34:25-26). Jacob subsequently punished the brothers by dispersing them in Israel without claim to their own lands (49:7). Because of this, the tribes of Levi and Simeon were present in Judah when the latter was taken to Babylon, and were thus preserved.
🔼Etymology of the name Hamor
The name Hamor is the same as the noun חמור (hamor), meaning ass or donkey, or more literal: red-one, from the verb חמר (hamar), meaning to be red and begin to flow slowly:
The verb חמר (hamar) means to begin to slowly flow. It expresses a slow progression or a tranquil flowing forth, emphasizes the beginning of such a process and is hence associated with the color red (the color of sun-rise, metal that starts to melt, grapes that start to ripen, and so on).
Noun חמר (hemar) describes bitumen or naturally seeping tar and חמר (homer) refers to reddish clay or natural cement. The denominative verb חמר (hamar) means to smear with mud or asphalt.
Noun חמר (homer) describes heaps of a near-liquid mass (particularly dead frogs or grains), and was also used as the largest standard unit of volume (equivalent to about one or two modern barrels). Noun חמר (hamor) too means heap or pile.
Noun יחמור (yahmur) describes a roebuck or a somewhat reddish deer. Noun חמור (hamor) is one of a few words for donkey. Scholars have long surmised that this word was chosen to describe the animal because the latter was red, until they realized that donkeys in the Levant are grey. Instead, donkeys had become a symbol for the beginning of human civilization, trade and civilian transport, and for that reason were called red (which is also how the Red Sea got its name).
For a meaning of the name Hamor, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Ass and BDB Theological Dictionary has He-Ass. Most literally, however, the name Hamor means Red One.