In Genesis 34:2

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

the term "of Hamor" comes from H2544 / Chamowr / חֲמוֹר which means ass / donkey.

From Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon

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one can extract there's no negative connotation in this particular passage.

Considering we're in Genesis and it's not the first time the names are full of extra references (for example, Genesis 30), I can't overlook the potential double meaning here too.

From my understanding, this could be potentially two sided

  • A way to call "Shechem" an ass, from what he did to Dinah (Genesis 34:2)
  • There are specific character traces from Hamor which would enable one back then to call him "ass" (be that having his son, Shechem, seduce Dinah (and this would imply knowing more about the culture which the author wrote))
  • 1
    This is extremely common - Hebrew names almost always carried a meaning important to the story. If they did not, sometimes the write to mock them by slightly changing a name to make it better fit. Whether "Hamor" was his real name or not we do not even know - but that is the name the story teller selected.
    – Dottard
    Jan 13, 2021 at 22:44

1 Answer 1


The name "Hamor" is related to chamor (H2543).

Strong's Concordance

chamor: a male ass
Original Word: חֲמוֹר
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

What are the denotations of chamor?


1 as (valuable) property, with oxen, sheep, camels, slaves, etc. ...
2 used for riding ...
3 beast of burden ...
4 used in tillage ...
5 parts of body of ass mentioned are: ׳לְחִי ח Judges 15:15,16 jawbone, Samson's weapon; ׳ראֹשׁ ח 2 Kings 6:25 eaten in famine; ׳בְּשַׂר ה Ezekiel 23:20 Genital organ of ass (contemptuous simile)
6 ׳קְבוּרַת ה Jeremiah 22:19 burial of an ass, in figure of ignominious treatment of a corpse.

Most of the time in the ancient agricultural environments, chamor connotes positively as a hard-working beast for carrying burdens and tilling farmland.

There is one verse that has a sexual connotation.

Ezekiel 23:20 American Standard Version

And she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

Genesis 34:2

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

When I read this, I see Hamor as a hard-working person like a burro, and not as a sex maniac whose son is also a sex maniac. The word chamor appears 96 times. Almost all the times, it denotes a hard-working beast. Only once it marries a sexual connotation at a much later time in Ezekiel.

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