🔼The name Hor: Summary
- From the noun הר (har), mountain.
🔼The name Hor in the Bible
The name Hor is applied to two separate mountains in the Bible:
- A mountain close to the territory of Edom, and Edom was south of Canaan (Numbers 20:22). On their way from Kadesh the Israelites wanted to cross Edom, but the king of Edom refused Moses passage, and so Israel halted at Mount Hor. There Aaron died (Numbers 20:28, 33:38, Deuteronomy 32:50; Deuteronomy 10:6 calls the place where Aaron died Moserah, and Deuteronomy 2:1 speaks of Mount Seir instead of Hor).
When Israel departed from Hor and was forced to undertake the arduous journey around Edom, the Israelites rebelled and spoke against God. To stave off the fiery serpents that God sent in retaliation, Moses crafted the famous bronze serpent (Numbers 21:8), later known as Nehushtan.
- An otherwise unmentioned mountain on the northern border of the territory that YHWH assigned to Israel. It's the first landmark of note from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea eastward (Numbers 34:7-8).
🔼Etymology of the name Hor
The name Hor is the same as the noun הר (har), meaning mountain. In fact, the phrase "Mount Hor" employs twice the same word: הר ההר (har hahar):
The noun הר (har) is the Bible's common word for mountain or hill. Intuition dictates that the root of the word for mountain probably has to do with being elevated, but that's not correct. In Hebrew thought, a mountain is not something that's high but rather a lot of something gathered. And so, a mountain became synonymous for a large but centralized group of people (Jeremiah 51:25), or even gods (Isaiah 14:13).
The obviously related verb הרה (hera) means to be or become pregnant. An association with the previous noun is obvious, although not because the stomach of a pregnant woman resembles a mountain. The Bible depicts nations as individual women even more than as mountains; the words אמה ('umma), meaning people and אם ('em), meaning mother are closely related. A pregnant woman is to her husband what a conceiving nation is to its deity.
For a meaning of the name Hor, NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and BDB Theological Dictionary all read Mountain.