🔼The name Moreh: Summary
- Early Rain, Teacher
- From the verb ירה (yara), to cast or shoot.
🔼The name Moreh in the Bible
There are two locations known by the name Moreh in the Bible:
- A place near Shechem, known fully as אלון מורה ('elon moreh), or Oak (Of) Moreh. This is where Abraham built an altar to YHWH right after his arrival in Canaan and just prior to his stay in Bethel (Genesis 12:6). The wording of these statements and the activities they describe strongly suggest that Abraham was not simply wandering around, but was rather on a specific course along a network of centers of learning. The second time the oaks (plural this time) of Moreh are mentioned is in the highly significant passage of Deuteronomy 11:26-32, where the Lord sets before Israel a blessing (Mount Gerizim) and a curse (Mount Ebal), beside the Oaks Of Moreh (Deuteronomy 11:30, only here spelled מרה).
- A hill (גבעה, gib'a) in the valley of Jezreel, where the Midianites were camped just prior to being defeated by Gideon and his 300 men (Judges 7:1, see 6:33).
🔼Etymology of the name Moreh
The name Moreh is identical to the noun מורה (moreh), which may either mean early rain or teacher, from the verb ירה (yara), meaning to throw cast or shoot:
The verb ירה (yara) describes the bringing about of a unified effect by means of many little impulses (arrows, stones, words, instructions, rain drops, and so on). Noun יורה (yoreh) refers to rain that falls during the first period of the agricultural year, when seedlings bud but don't bear fruit yet. Noun מורה (moreh) may either also refer to early rain, or it means teacher, who is a person who teaches children who can't think for themselves yet. Noun תורה (tora), refers to any set of instructions (hence the familiar word Torah).
The verb ירא (yara') describes the same process, but rather from the perspective of the receiving "soil": to revere, to pay heed to, and in extreme cases: to fear. Nouns יראה (yir'a), מורא (mora') and מורה (mora) cover the broad spectrum between reverence and fear, between anything awe-inspiring and anything terrifying.
For a meaning of the name Moreh, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Teacher and adds for no apparent reason Soothsayer. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names also proposes Teacher and adds for no apparent reason Illustrious.
BDB Theological Dictionary appears to not acknowledge Moreh as name and speaks of "the teacher's terebinth" for the first Moreh and "teacher's hill" for the second one. BDB further asserts that the terebinth "was a holy tree from which divine teaching was given," but that's little more than a rather dated assumption. Here at Abarim Publications we find it more likely that the word for terebinth denoted a particular wisdom school (read our article on the name Abraham for a hint to what a tree might have symbolized to the ancients).