Hor (Heb. id. הוֹר or הֹר; Sept. ῞Ωρ), the name of two eminent mountains (הֹר הָהָר, i.e. "Hor the mountain," remarkable as the only case in which the name comes first; Sept. ῎Ωρ τὸ ὄρος, Vulg. Mons Hor). The word Hor is regarded by the lexicographers as an archaic form of ar, the usual Heb. term for "mountain" (Gesen. Thes. p. 391 b; Ftirst, Handw. s.v.), so that the meaning of the name is simply "the mountain of mountains," as the Sept. have it in one case (see below, No. 2) τὸ ὄρος τὸ ὄρος; Vulg. mons altissimus; and Jerome (Ep. ad Fabiolam) non in monte simpliciter sed in montis monte. SEE MOUNTAIN.
1. An eminent mountain of Arabia Petraea, on the confines of Idumaea, and forming part of the mountain chain of Seir or Edom. It is first mentioned in Scripture in connection with the circumstances recorded in Nu 20:22-29. It was "on the boundary line" (Nu 20:23) or "at the edge" (Nu 33:37) of the land of Edom. It was the next halting-place of the people after Kadesh (Nu 20:22; Nu 33:37), and they quitted it for Zalmonah (Nu 33:41), in the road to the Red Sea (Nu 21:4). It was during the encampment at Mt. Hor that Aaron was gathered to his fathers (Nu 33:37-41). At the command of Jehovah, he, his brother, and his son ascended the mountain, in the presence of the people, "in the eyes of all the congregation." The garments, and with the garments the office, of high priest were taken from Aaron and put upon Eleazar, and Aaron died there in the top of the mountain. In the circumstances of the ascent of the height to die, and in the marked exclusion from the Promised Land, the end of the one brother resembled the end of the other; but in the presence of the two survivors, and of the gazing crowd below, there is a striking difference between this event and the solitary death of Moses. SEE AARON. The Israelites passed the mountain several times in going up 'and down the Arabah; and the station Mosera (De 10:6) must have been at the foot of the mount (De 32:50). SEE MOSERA.
The mountain now identified with Mount Hor is the most conspicuous in the whole range of Mount Seir, and at this day bears the name of Mount Aaron (Jebel-llarun). It is in N. lat. 30° 18', E. long. 35° 33', about midway between the Dead Sea and the AElanitic Gulf. It may be open to question if this is really the Mount Hor on which Aaron died, seeing that the whole range of Seir was anciently called by that name; yet, from its height, and the remarkable manner in which it rises among the surrounding rocks, it seems not unlikely to have been the chosen scene of the high- priest's death (Kinneir, p. 127). Accordingly, Stanley observes that Mount Hor "is one of the very few spots connected with the wanderings of the Israelites which admit of no reasonable doubt" (S. and P. p. 86). It is almost unnecessary to state that it is situated on the eastern side of the great valley of the Arabah, the highest and most conspicuous of the whole range of the sandstone mountains of Edom, having close beneath it, on its eastern side though, strange to say, the two are not visible to each other — the mysterious city of Petra. The tradition has existed from the earliest date. Josephus does not mention the name of Hor (Ant. 4, 4, 7), but he describes the death of Aaron as taking place "on a very high mountain which surrounded the metropolis of the Arabs," which latter "was formerly called Arke (῎Αρκη), but now Petra." In the Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome it is Ormons — "A mountain in which Aaron died, close to the city of Petra." When it was visited by the Crusaders (see the quotations in Robinson, Researches, 2:521) the sanctuary was already on its top, and there is little doubt that it was then what it is now — the Jebel Nebi- Harlun, "the mountain of the prophet Aaron."
Of the geological formation of Mount Hor we have no very trustworthy accounts. The general structure of the range of Edom, of which it forms the most prominent feature, is new red sandstone, displaying itself to an enormous thickness. Above that is the Jura limestone, and higher still the cretaceous beds, which latter in Mount Seir are reported to be 3500 feet thick (Wilson, Bible Lands, 1, 194). Through these deposited strata longitudinal dikes of red granite and porphyry have forced their way, running nearly north and south, and so completely solidifying the neighboring sandstone as often to give it the look of a primitive rock. To these combinations are due the extraordinary colors for which Petra is so famous. One of the best descriptions of the mountain itself is that given by Irby and Mangles (Travels, p. 433 sq.). It is said to be entirely sandstone, in very horizontal strata (Wilson, 1, 290). Its height, according to the latest measurements, is 4800 feet (Eng.) above the Mediterranean, that is to say, about 1700 feet above the town of Petra, 4000 above the level of the Arabah, and ore than 6000 above the Dead Sea (Roth, in Peterman's Mittheil. 1858, 1, 3). The mountain is marked far and near by its double top, which rises like a huge castellated building from a lower base, and is surmounted by the circular dome of the tomb of Aaron, a distinct white spot on the dark red surface of the fountain (Laborde, p. 143). This lower base is the "plain of Aaron," beyond which Burckhardt was, after all his toils, prevented from ascending (Syria, p. 431). "Out of this plain, culminating in its two summits, springs the red sandstone mass, from its base upwards rocky and naked, not a bush or a tree to relieve the rugged and broken corners of the sandstone blocks which compose it. On ascending this mass a little plain is found to lie between the two peaks, marked by a white cypress, and not unlike the celebrated plain of the cypress under the summit of Jebel Musa, traditionally believed to be the scene of Elijah's vision. The southernmost of the two, on approaching, takes a conical form. The northernmost is truncated, and crowned by the chapel of Aaron's tomb." The chapel or mosque is a small square building, measuring inside about 28 feet by 33 (Wilson, 1, 295), with its door in the S.W. angle. It is built of rude stones, in part broken columns; all of sandstone, but fragments of granite and marble lie about. Steps lead to the flat roof of the chapel, from which rises a white dome as usual over a saint's tomb. The interior of the chapel consists of two chambers, one below the other. The upper one has four large pillars and a stone chest, or tombstone, like one of the ordinary slabs in churchyards, but larger and higher, and rather bigger at the top than the bottom. At its head is a high round stone, on which sacrifices are made, and which retained, when Stephens saw it, the marks of the smoke and blood of recent offerings. "On the slab are Arabic inscriptions, and it is covered with shawls chiefly red. One of the pillars is hung with votive offerings of beads, etc., and two ostrich eggs are suspended over the chest. Steps in the northwest angle lead down to the lower chamber, which is partly in the rock, but plastered. It is perfectly dark. At the end, apparently under the stone chest above, is a recess guarded by a grating. Within this is a rude protuberance, whether of stone or plaster was not ascertainable, resting on wood, and covered by a ragged pall. This lower recess is no doubt the tomb, and possibly ancient. What is above is only the artificial monument, and certainly modern." In one of the walls of this chamber is a "round, polished black stone," one of those mysterious stones of which the prototype is the Kiaaba at Mecca, and which, like that, would appears to be the object of great devotion (Martineau, p. 419 sq.).
The chief interest of Mount Hor will always consist in the prospect from its summit — the last view of Aaron — "that view which was to him what Pisgah was to his brother" (Ortlob, De Morte Aaronis, Lips. 1704). It is described at length by Irby (p. 134), Wilson (1, 292-9), Martineau (p. 420), and is well summed up by Stanley in the following words: "We saw all the main points on which his eve must have rested. He looked over the valley of the Arabah counter-sected by its hundred watercourses, and beyond, over the white mountains of the wilderness they had so long traversed; and at the northern edge of it there must have been visible the heights through which the Israelites had vainly attempted to force their way into the Promised Land. This was the western view. Close around him on the east were the rugged mountains of Edom, aid far along the horizon the wide downs of Mount Seir, through, which the passage had been denied by the wild tribes of Esau who hunted over their long slopes. On the: north lay the mysterious Dead Sea, gleaming from the depths of its profound basin (Stephens, Incidents). "A dreary moment and a dreary scene such it must have seemed to the aged priest… The peculiarity of the view is the combination of wide extension with the scarcity of marked features. Petra is shut out by intervening rocks. But the survey of the Desert on one side, and the mountains of Edom on the other, is complete; and of these last the great feature is the mass of red, bald-headed sandstone rocks, intersected, not by valleys, but by deep seams" (S. and Pal. p. 87). Though Petra itself is entirely shut out, one outlying buildings if it may be called a building is visible, — that which goes by the name of the Deir, or Convent. Professor Stanley has thrown out a suggestion on the connection between the two, which is well worth further investigation. (See Robinson, Researches, 2:548, 579, 651.) The impression received on the spot is that Aaron's death took place in the small basin between the two peaks, and that the people were stationed either on the plain, at the base of the peaks, or at that part of the wady Abu-Kusheybeh from which the top is commanded. Josephus says that the ground was sloping downwards (κατάντες ην τὸ χωρίον; Ant. 4:4, 7). But this may be the mere general expression of a man who had never been on the spot. (See Bertou, Le mont Hor, Pat, 1860.)
2. A mountain entirely distinct from the preceding, named in Nu 34:7-8, only as one of the marks of the northern boundary of the land which the children of Israel were about to conquer. By many it has been regarded as a designation of Mount Casius, but this is rather the northern limit of Syria. The Targum Pseudojon renders Mount Hor by Unzanos, probably intending Amana. The latter is also the reading of the Talmud (Götting, 8, quoted by Fürst, s.v.), in which it is connected with the Amana named in Song 4:8. But the situation of this Amana is nowhere indicated by them. It cannot have any connection with the Amana or Abana River, which flowed through Damascus, as that is quite away from the position required in the passage. Schwarz (Palest. p. 25), after Parchi (in Benj. of Tudela, p. 413 sq.), identifies it with Jebel Nuria, south of Tripoli, but on frivolous grounds; nor was the mount in question on the Mediterranean, and Palestine did not extend so far north. The original is הֹר הָהִר, mount of the mountain, i.e. by a common Hebrew idiom, the Mountain, by way of eminence, i.q. the lofty mountain; Sept. τὸ ὄρος, Vulg. mons altissimus; and therefore probably only denotes the prominent mountain of that vicinity, i.e. Lebanon, or at most Mount Hermon, which is an offshoot of the Lebanon range. It can hardly be regarded here as a proper name. The northern boundary started from the sea; the first point in it was Mount Hor, and the second the entrance of Hamath. Since Sidon was subsequently allotted to the most northern tribe — Asher, and was, as far as we know, the most northern town so allotted, it would seem probable that the northern boundary would commence at about that point; that is, opposite to where the great range of Lebanon breaks down to the sea. The next landmark, the entrance to Hamath, seems to have been determined by Mr. Porter as the pass at Kalat el-Husn, close to Hums, the ancient Hamath — at the other end of the range of Lebanon. Surely "Mount Hor," then, can be nothing else than the great chain of Lebanon itself. Looking at the massive character and enormous height of the range, it is very difficult to suppose that any individual peak or mountain is intended and not the whole mass, which takes nearly a straight course between the two points just named, and includes below it the great plain of the Buka'a, and the whole of Palestine properly so called.