Elizur, the Son of Shedeur
“So Moses and Aaron took these men who had been designated by name.” (Numbers 1:17)
Representing the tribe of Reuben was Elizur ben Shedeur.
One of the most helpful exercises you can do for biblical learning is learn to break down a Hebrew name. Such names are almost always a compound of two Hebrew words, and almost always tell us something about the person’s purpose in Scripture.
In this series of names, I am making an assumption that the captain of the tribe had a name that represented something God willed for His people to experience in the Promised Land. The father’s name was also mentioned, and so I will assume that the father’s name represented God’s people’s experience in captivity in Egypt. This is, admittedly, not an assumption that is granted by the words of Scripture. Scripture does, however, indicate that there is significance in these names, and God chose them by name and because of name.
Elizur comes from EL and Tsur. In transliterated Hebrew, the letter “i” inserted after a Hebrew word typically makes a personal pronoun, as you will see in a moment. So Elizur is literally El-i-tsur. El is one of the most commonly used words in the Old Testament, and, upon learning it, you will spot it in name after name. It is simply translated, “God.” Remember that “i” makes the preceding word into the personal possessive form, so Eli (El-i) is “My God.” (To make things frustrating, however, the name Eli (the Priest) is spelled differently in Hebrew, and is not from El.) Finally, tsur is the Hebrew word for Rock. Thus, Elizur is “my God is a rock.” When the nation came to the Promised Land, they would experience God as a Rock.
But in bondage they would experience Shedeur. From sadeh and ur. The first, Sadeh comes from a word related to “spread out,” and is most often translated “field” carrying the idea of open country. Imagine the Israelites in Egypt, cultivating the fields, living in the place of the wild beasts. Ur can mean light or flame, but it is most often translated as the place from whence Abram was called: Ur of the Chaldeas. The significance: God’s people came from the fields of the Chaldeas, but would enter the Land of promise. From the foreign field to the Promised Land, God would show Himself to be a Rock.
In His Grace,
Dr. Randy White
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