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HAMOR (Heb. חֲמוֹר; "ass"), the leading citizen of the town of Shechem in the time of the patriarch Jacob; his son was called Shechem (see *Dinah). Jacob bought a parcel of land from the sons of Hamor and built an altar upon it (Gen. 33:19–20). Joseph's bones were buried on this ground by the children of Israel when they returned from Egypt (Josh. 24:32). There are mutually contradictory data on the ethnic character of Hamor. In Genesis 34:2 he is called a Hivite, prince of the land. In the Alexandrine Septuagint he is called the Horite; while Genesis 48:22 indicates that the Amorites ruled in Shechem.

Hamor and his son were killed by Simeon and Levi in revenge for Shechem's dishonoring of their sister Dinah, after which the city was plundered and destroyed (Gen. 34). This deed aroused the anger of their father, Jacob (Gen. 34:30), and echoes of this linger in his deathbed blessings (Gen. 49:5–6). In S. Yeivin's view, this story would appear to be an early description of the domination by two of the Israelite tribes over a region of the land; therefore there is no mention of wars of conquest in the region of the hills of Ephraim in connection with the settlement of the land by the tribes (but see Bibliography for *Dinah).

The name Hamor is associated with the dwellers of Shechem in the days of *Abimelech: "Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem that we should serve him? Did not the son of Jerubbaal and his officer, Zebul, once serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem?" (Judg. 9:28). W.F. Albright believed, on the basis of Mari documents in which the phrase "to kill an ass" means "to conclude an alliance," that the phrase "the men of Hamor" as applied to the Shechemites during this period designates them as "allies." F. Willesen found further evidence for this hypothesis in a South Arabian inscription in which the word ḥmrn seems to mean entering into an alliance. The temple of the Shechemites is called Beth-El-Berith ("house of the god of the covenant or alliance"; Judg. 9:46).

On the basis of the Arslan Tash (between Carchemish and Harran) plaques, Albright tried to identify the god bearing this epithet as the Canaanite Horon (see *Beth-Horon), god of treaties. The name Hamor (Himār) also occurs as a proper name among the early Arabs.


S. Yeivin, Meḥkarim be-Toledot Yisrael ve-Arẓo (1960), 143–4; E. Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstaemme (1906), 416; G. Ryckmans, Les noms propres sud-sémitiques, 1 (1934), 105; Albright, Arch Rel, 113; Von Soden, in: Die Welt des Orients, 3 (1948), 187, 213; Willesen, in: vt, 4 (1954), 216–7; W. Robertson-Smith, The Religion of the Semites (1956), 468; E. Nielsen, Schechem (Eng., 19592), passim. add. bibliography: N. Sarna, jps Torah Commentary Genesis (1989), 233.

[Ephraim Stern]

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