Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
“Hur” appears three times in the Bible, all in the Old Testament. Many people have also heard of an extra-biblical Hur. This latter Hur is associated with the character “Judah Ben-Hur” from the film Ben-Hur. However, the character in the movie is not based on any of the men named “Hur” in the Bible. Instead, the author of Ben-Hur likely chose the name Judah Ben-Hur as a nod to the biblical Hurs. Still, the character in the movie is entirely made up, except for maybe their name, and has nothing to do with any of the men in the Bible named Hur.
Nehemiah mentions the least-known of the three in passing in Nehemiah 3.9. Hur was the father of Rephaiah, who was a leader in Jerusalem and fixed a part of the city’s walls while Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding.
A Midianite king was another Hur in the Bible during Moses’ time. In the land of Shittim, the Midianites deceived God’s people, leading them into sexual immorality and idolatry. As a result, God gave Moses the command to exact vengeance on the Midianites and their chiefs: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. As a result, the Israelites slaughtered every Midianite man, including all five commanders (Numbers 31.7–8). This battle was Moses’ last.
But the most famous Hur is found in the book of Exodus. He is said to be of the Judah tribe. Hur was probably in charge of the Israelites because Moses talks a lot about him in connection with Aaron, his brother, and the high priest of the Israelites. During the Israelites’ battle with the Amalekites, Hur was one of two men who supported Moses’ arms. Moses stood on a hill with his staff in hand and raised his arms in prayer when the Israelites were under attack from the Amalekites on their way to the Promised Land (Exodus 17.8–9). The Israelites were victorious as long as Moses raised his arms, but once he did, the Amalekites began to overtake the Israelites (Exodus 17.11). When Moses’ arms grew tired, he sat down on a stone, with Aaron and Hur standing beside him to support his arms. Joshua used the sword to defeat the Amalekite army as they did so (Exodus 17.12–13).
When Moses went to Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments, he gave Aaron and Hur the responsibility of caring for the people (Exodus 24:13–15). When Moses returned, he found the people worshiping a golden calf instead of the Lord. So Aaron created a golden calf (Exodus 32.2–4)!
We don’t know what role, if any, Hur played in this incident, but according to Jewish tradition, the people killed Hur because he tried to prevent idolatry. The story goes that when the Israelites murdered Hur, Aaron capitulated to the people out of fear. The Midrash says that Satan used Moses’ lateness to make the Israelites think that Moses had died. The terrified Israelites demanded that Aaron and Hur produce gods to lead them. Hur stood up and rebuked the people, reminding them of God’s miracles. People rose and killed him right away. As a result, Jewish tradition holds that the Israelites broke three commandments on the day of the Golden Calf, the last of which was the murder of Hur. Of course, there is no way to validate this Jewish tradition.
Still, this Jewish tradition may have come about to explain why Moses doesn’t talk about Hur after Exodus 32 and the golden calf. Hur’s name appears only once more in the Torah, within a genealogy. So, what became of Hur? Moses had again left him in charge with Aaron before ascending to the top of Mount Sinai. He was a man of some importance. So, it is odd that he seemingly evaporates.
The last time the Bible talks about Hur is when it says that he was the grandfather of Bezalel, the inspired craftsman who oversaw the building of the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 31:1–11). Returning to Jewish tradition, it concludes with redemption. According to Rabbi Ohr Hachaim (1696–1743), the name Hur derives from the same root word as “freedom.” He explains that the Israelites were only finally freed from the stain of their sins with the golden calf through the tabernacle’s construction. Their penance for their sinful behavior that had driven God away was to build a house for God. In other words, Betzalel, Hur’s grandson, provided a way for the Israelites to atone for their sins, including his grandfather’s murder.
That is all very well, but it is a Jewish tradition. Moses’ inspired account is silent on whether or not God granted Hur’s grandson the task because of its symbolism. But we can draw some lessons from Hur’s life for today’s people.
The first application is that we must support those who do church work, whether leaders, evangelists, or servants. Hur may not have been able to fight the Amalekites, but he could help Moses, whose obedience brought the Israelites victory. We can inspire others. In this way, we should always appreciate our ability to influence Christ’s cause. The second application is that we can never know how our lives will affect God’s eternal plans. Hur may have made a small name for himself, but his grandson was in charge of building the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. Thus, without Hur, there could have been no Betzalel. God could have chosen someone else for the job, but Betzalel was the one God chose. As a result, the good you’ve done in the world may live on in the person whose life you’ve touched.
Brother Flavil Nichols tells how a young woman’s baptism resulted in the conversion of over 21,000 people! She taught her husband to read, so he studied the Bible. That man became a preacher and converted another man, who also became a preacher. And that preacher was the one who baptized Flavil’s father, Gus Nichols. Because of this long chain of influence, one woman’s life has incredible value. How many people will eventually receive salvation as a result of her actions? It reminds you of the importance of one life in this world.
So, whether it’s helping other people with their work or leaving a mark on the world through our actions, one thing is sure: we must stay strong (1 Corinthians 15.58)! Paul’s message reminds us to remain steadfast in our work and not give up, while Hur’s example reminds us that even those who work behind the scenes can make a significant impact. Both teachings encourage us to stick with our goals and make a positive difference in the lives of those around us.
Yes, we must emulate Hur, the unsung hero.