The Mysterious Life and Death of Hur

By Levi Avtzon

The story of Hur is one of heroism, tragedy and, ultimately, redemption.

Let us start from the beginning.

According to tradition, Moses’ older sister, Miriam, married Caleb, son of

Yefuneh.(1) Miriam and Caleb had a son, whose name was Hur.

The first time we meet Hur is during the war with Amalek. It was very soon after the Exodus, and the nation of Amalek aimed to poke a hole in the invincibility of this newborn nation:

Moses said to Joshua, “Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of G‑d in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur ascended to the top of the hill.

It came to pass that when Moses would raise his hand, Israel would prevail, and when he would lay down his hand, Amalek would prevail. Now, Moses’ hands were heavy; so they took a stone and placed it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one from this [side], and one from that [side]; so he was with his hands in faith until sunset . . .(2)

x`

Hur, one of the three people who went up the hill to pray for salvation, was obviously a man of stature who was close to his venerated uncle Moses.

The next time we meet him is when Moses is climbing Mount Sinai for a 40-day learning session with the Divine, and tells the elders, “Wait for us here until we return to you, and here Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a case, let him go to them.”

At the most important junctures of Jewish life in the desert, Hur was there, together with his uncle Aaron.

The subsequent—and final—time we meet Hur is just a few weeks later. Moses had told the Jews that he would ascend the mountain and remain up there for 40 days. The Jews miscalculated, and when Moses did not descend the mountain by the deadline, they decided to create a Golden Calf.

Just 40 days after hearing the words “Thou shall have no other god,” they danced and celebrated before a Calf of Gold. And just two score after saying yes to “Don’t commit adultery,” they broke that cardinal rule as well.(3)

Idolatry, adultery—and murder. They also committed murder at the scene of the Golden Calf.

Says the Midrash:

The sixth hour of the day arrived, and Moses had not descended from the heaven . . . They immediately gathered around Aaron. At that time Satan took advantage of the opportunity and made an image of Moses visible suspended lifeless between heaven and earth. The Jews pointed to the image with their fingers and said, “For this is the man Moses . . .”(4)

At that moment, Hur arose against them and said, “You severed necks! Do you not remember the miracle that our G‑d did for you?” Immediately, they arose against him and killed him.

You read that right. It was six weeks after “Thou shall not murder,” and there they were, murdering Moses’ own nephew!

At the foot of Sinai, the Jews committed the three cardinal prohibitions. Moses would break the Tablets and beseech G‑d for mercy, and history would be changed forever in many ways as a consequence of this one morning.

You might think that Hur, who had just helped save the Jews from a terrible enemy a few weeks prior, and was now murdered for standing up for the honor of G‑d and His servant Moses, would end his story here at this all-time low.

But there is a postscript to Hur’s story. The Torah tells us that when it came time to build the Tabernacle, G‑d told Moses to appoint an architect for this endeavor. The name of this young architect? Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur.(5) The honor to build the home for G‑d was given to the grandson of he who stood up to sanctify G‑d’s name.

Meaning of the Name

The Ohr Hachaim (6) offers an insight into the name Hur. Hur (Chur) shares the same root word as chorin, “freedom.” He explains that it was only through building the Tabernacle that the Jews were finally freed from the blemish of their sins at the Golden Calf. Building a home for G‑d was their rectification of the sinful behavior that pushed G‑d away from them.

In other words, Betzalel, grandson of Hur, provided the Jews with the freedom from their sins that included killing his grandfather.

Hur, the lover of Jews(7) and defender of the faith, must have been deeply proud that the honor of G‑d and the unity of His people has been restored, thanks to his own grandson.

Thus, Hur’s story ends not with tragedy, but with forgiveness and redemption.

Footnotes

1. Rashi Exodus 17:10, based on I Chronicles 2:19.

2. Exodus 17:10.

3. Rashi on Exodus 32:6.

4. Exodus Rabbah 41.

5. Exodus 31:2.

6. On Exodus 31:2.

7. Malbim (Exodus 17:12) refers to him as the unifier of Jews and the unifier between Jews and their G‑d.

As taken from, https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/4287673/jewish/The-Mysterious-Life-and-Death-of-Hur.htm#utm_medium=email&utm_source=1_chabad.org_magazine_en&utm_campaign=en&utm_content=content

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