Be'cher (Heb. Be'ker, בֶּכֶר, perh. first-born, but, according to Gesenius, a young camel; so Simonis, Onomast. p. 399), the name of one or two men.
1. (Sept. Βοχόρ and Βαχίρ.) The second son of Benjamin, according to the list both in Ge 46:21, and 1Ch 7:6; but omitted in the list of the sons of Benjamin in 1Ch 8:1-2, as the text now stands, unless, as seems, on the whole, most probable, he is there called NOHAH, the fourth son. There is also good reason to identify him with the IR of 1Ch 7:12. B.C. 1856. No one, however, can look at the Hebrew text of 1Ch 8:1 (בּכוֹרוֹ אִשׁבֵל בִּניָמִן הוֹלִיד אֶתאּבֶּלִע), without at least suspecting that בּכֹרוֹ, his first-born, is a corruption of בֶּכֶר, Becher, and that the suffix וֹ is a corruption of: ו, and belongs to the following אִשׁבֵל, so that the genuine sense; in that case, would be, Benjamin begat Bela, Becher, and Ash-bel, in exact agreement with Ge 46:21. The enumeration, the second, the third, etc., must then have been added since the corruption of the text. There is, however, another view which may be taken, viz., that 1Ch 8:1, is right, and that in Ge 46:21. and 1Ch 7:8, בֶּכֶר, as a proper name, is a corruption of בּכֹר, first-born, and so that Benjamin had no son of the name of Becher. In favor of this view, it may be said that the position of Becher, immediately following Bela the first-born in both passages, is just the position it would be in if it meant "first-born;" that Becher is a singular name to give to a second or fourth son; and that the discrepance between Ge 46:21, where Ashbel is the third son, and 1Ch 8:1, where he is expressly called the second, and the omission of Ashbel in 1Ch 7:6, would all be accounted for on the supposition of בּכֹר having been accidentally taken for a proper name instead of in the sense of "first-born." It may be added farther that, in 1Ch 8:38, the same confusion has arisen in the case of the sons of Azel, of whom the second is in the Auth. Vers. called Bocheru, in Hebrews בֹּכרוּ, but which in the Sept. is rendered πρωτότοκος αὐτοῦ, another name, Α᾿σά, being added to make up the six sons of Azel. And that the Sept. is right in the rendering is made highly probable by the very same form being repeated in ver. 39, "And the sons of Eshek his brother were Ulam his first-born (בּכוֹרוֹ), Jehush the second," etc. The support, too, which Becher, as a proper name, derives from the occurrence of the same name in Nu 26:35, is somewhat weakened by the fact that Bered (q.v.) seems to be substituted for Becher in 1Ch 7:20, and that the latter is omitted altogether in the Sept. version of Nu 26:35. Moreover, which is perhaps the strongest argument of all, in the enumeration of the Benjamite families in Nu 26:38, there is no mention of Becher or the Bachrites, but Ashbel and the Ashbelites immediately follow Bela and the Belaites. This last supposition, however, is decidedly negatived by the mention (1Ch 7:8) of the distinctive sons of Becher as an individual. Becher was one of Benjamin's five sons that came down to Egypt with Jacob, being one of the fourteen descendants of Rachel who settled in Egypt. SEE JACOB.
As regards the posterity of Becher, we find nevertheless the singular fact of there being no family named after him at the numbering of the Israelites in the plains of Moab, as related in Numbers 26. But the no less singular circumstance of there being a Becher, and a family of Bachrites, among the sons of Ephraim (ver. 35) has been thought to suggest an explanation. The slaughter of the sons of Ephraim by the men of Gath, who came to steal their cattle out of the land of Goshen, in that border affray related in 1Ch 7:21, had sadly thinned the house of Ephraim of its males. The daughters of Ephraim must therefore have sought husbands in other tribes, and in many cases must have been heiresses. It is therefore possible that Becher, or his heir and head of his house, married an Ephraimitish heiress, a daughter of Shuthelah (1Ch 7:20-21), and that his house was thus reckoned in the tribe of Ephraim, just as Jair, the son of Segub, was reckoned in the tribe of Manasseh (1Ch 2:22; Nu 32:40-41). The time when Becher first appears among the Ephraimites, viz., just before the entering into the promised land, when the people were numbered by genealogies for the express purpose of dividing the inheritance equitably among the tribes, is evidently highly favorable to this view. (See Nu 26:52-56; Nu 27.) The junior branches of Becher's family would of course continue in the tribe of Benjamin. Their names, as given in 1Ch 7:8, were Zemira, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jerimoth, and Abiah; other branches possessed the fields around Anathoth and Alameth (called Alemeth 6:60, and Almon Jos 21:18). As the most important of them, being ancestor to King Saul, and his great captain Abner (1Sa 14:50), the last named, Abiah, was literally Becher's son, it would seem that the rest (with others not there named) were likewise. SEE JACOB. The generations appear to have been as follows:
Becher-Abiah; then (after a long interval, SEE SAUL) Aphiah (1 Samuel 90:1)—Bechorath—Zeror—Abiel (Jehiel, 1Ch 9:35) —Ner— Kish—Saul. Abner was another son of Ner, brother therefore to Kish, and uncle to Saul. Abiel or Jehiel seems to have been the first of his house who settled at Gibeon or Gibeah (1Ch 8:29; 1Ch 9:35), which perhaps he acquired by his marriage with Maachah, and which became thenceforth the seat of his family, and was called afterward Gibeah of Saul (1Sa 11:4; Isa 10:29). From 1Ch 8:6, it would seem that before this, Gibeon, or Geba, had been possessed by the sons of Ehud (called Abihud ver. 3) and other sons of Bela. Another remarkable descendant of Becher was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite, who headed the formidable rebellion against David described in 2 Samuel 20; and another, probably Shimei, the son of Gera of Bahurim, who cursed David as he fled from Absalom (2Sa 16:5), since he is said to be "a man of the family of the house of Saul." But if so, Gera must be a different person from the Gera of Ge 46:21 and 1Ch 8:3. Perhaps therefore מִַּשׁפָּחָה is used in the wider sense of tribe, as Jos 7:17, and so the passage may only mean that Shimei was a Benjamite.
A third solution of both the above difficulties is to transfer from the 35th verse to the 38th of Numbers 26 the clause, "Of Becher the family of the Bachrites," inserting it in its natural place between Bela and his family and Ashbel and his family; the 38th verse would then stand thus: "The sons of Benjamin, after their families: of Bela, the family of the Belaites; of Becher, the family of the Bachrites; of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites," etc. This conjectural emendation is in part confirmed by the reading of the Sept. Thus, in the case before us, we have the tribe of Benjamin described
(1) as it was about the time when Jacob went down into Egypt, or rather at his death;
(2) as it was just before the entrance into Canaan;
(3) as it was in the days of David; and
(4) as it was eleven generations after Jonathan and David, i.e. in Hezekiah's reign.
2. (Sept. omits.) The second son of Ephraim; his posterity were called BACHRITES (Nu 26:35). In 1Ch 7:20, Bered seems to have been his nephew rather than the same person, as the margin supposes. B.C. post 1874. There is some reason, however, for identifying him with the preceding (see above).