PETHOR (pē'thôr, Heb. pethôr). Mentioned twice in connection with the hireling prophet Balaam (
PETHOR pə’ thôr (פְּתֹ֛ור; Assyrian-Babylonian Pitru). A city of N Mesopotamia, located on the W banks of the Upper Euphrates at the point where it is joined by the river Sagura (now Sajur), a few m. S of Carchemish. It was known as Pitru to the Hittites and as Ana-Ashur-utîr-aṩbat (“I settled it again for Asshur”) to the Assyrians. While the Israelites were sojourning in Egypt, the town was captured by the Hittites and held by them until the 9th cent. b.c. when it was wrested from them by Shalmaneser III (859-824), who recorded his victory: “I crossed the Euphrates and took the city Ana-Ashur-utîr-aṩbat on the other side of the Euphrates on the Sajur which the Hittites called Pitru.” Long before this time, however, it had appeared in Thutmose III’s list of Syrian towns conquered.
Pethor was the home of Balaam, the prophet, son of Beor, who was summoned by King Balak of Moab to curse the Israelites who were entering the land (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The dwelling-place of Balaam, situated on "the river" (the Euphrates) (
1. Possibly the Asyrian Pitru:
2. Difficulties of Identification:
As Pitru is about 400 miles from Moab, this meant for Balaam a three or four weeks’ journey, but the messengers sent to fetch him, though they had to travel that distance twice, could naturally, by pressing their mounts, have performed it much less time. Doubt may likewise be entertained as to the identity of Pethor with Pitru by the absence in the latter of the o, which would lead one to expect rather the Assyrian form Pit(h)uru. Shalmaneser, however, says that Pitru was the Hittite name, and that may account for it. With regard to the derivation, nothing can at present be said, except that, as a Hittite name, Tomkins (Records of the Past, V (London, 1891), 38) has compared the name Pitru with the Pteria of Herodotus i.76 (identified with Bog-haz-keui, the great Hittite capital in Cappadocia, in ancient times called Hattu).