🔼The name Shihor: Summary
- Deep Dark, Prelude To Solar Eclipse
- From the verb שחר (shahar), to darken or be dark.
🔼The name Shihor in the Bible
When Joshua had become old, God spoke to him and informed him rather redundantly that there was still much of Canaan that wasn't conquered, from the Shihor eastward (Joshua 13:3). But the tribes all had their territories assigned to them, and as soon as Joshua passed away, the federation spiraled into the throes of multi-lateral civil war, and lost all motivation to conquer the remaining parts of the promised land.
Still they managed to somehow settle near the Shihor, because when king David wanted to transport the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Abinadab at Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, he "gathered all of Israel from the Shihor of Egypt to the gate of Hamath" (1 Chronicles 13:5).
Much later, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the grain of the Shihor, which was the revenue of Tyre (Isaiah 23:3). And in light of the various deportations and places of refuge, the prophet Jeremiah taunts, "Why are you going to Egypt? To drink the water of the Shihor? Or why are you going to Assyria? To drink from the Euphrates?"
🔼Etymology of the name Shihor
The name Shihor looks like it comes the verb שחר (shahar), meaning to be black or dark:
The verb שחר (shahar) means to be black or dark (mostly of skin, hair and horses). The adjective שחר (shahor) means black, and adjective שחרחר (sheharhor) means blackish. Nouns שחור (shehor) and שחרות (shaharut) mean blackness.
The noun שחר (shahar) is generally thought to mean dawn, but here at Abarim Publications we find that unlikely (for our reasoning, follow the link at the foot of this paragraph, to the full Dictionary article). Instead, we propose that this noun describes a solar eclipse, which occurs when an invisible moon moves in front of the sun and blocks out its light. This causes a brief and unexpected moment of nightly darkness, which in turn makes the stars and planets visible.
An observer can see other people, but she cannot see what they see. This means that the sun she sees is hers alone, and equal to her own ratio. A solar eclipse also eclipses one's own solar ratio and reveals the many ratios of other people. This awakens one's stellar consciousness, or Theory of Mind, which counts as being "born from above" (John 3:3). These events are obviously mimicked in the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection.
From the noun שחר (shahar), solar eclipse, derives the denominative verb שחר (shahar), meaning to diligent search for God and wisdom; again qualities of a stellar consciousness.
For a meaning of the name Shihor, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Black, Turbid and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Very Black, Turbid.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't list the name Shihor under שחר (shahar) but in its alphabetical spot. BDB grimly adds: "usually derived from שחר I as black water, but doubtful". Why this would be doubtful BDB doesn't say, but it's equally doubtful that a Hebrew audience would concur with BDB's technical objections. Reading "black water" into the name Shihor is probably folk-etymology, but that's what counts in any highly symbolic popular narrative.
It should be noted that the alphabet allowed for mass literacy, which in turn promoted social cohesion and the proliferation of wisdom (see our article on the name YHWH). It appears that the rudiments of the alphabet had been developed in Egypt, and the export of these rudiments might actually be told of in the story of the Exodus. That means that the name Shihor may mean something like Prelude To Solar Eclipse, in anticipation of the revelation of the stars in the middle of the day.