The meaning of Augur's Oak in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
o'-gurs' ok: If we translated the Hebrew verb 'onen, "to practice augury" (see AUGURY) we should in Judges 9:37 for "the oak of Meonemm" render "the augurs' oak" as in the Revised Version, margin, for the last word is simply the part. of the same verb and means "one who practices augury," though there is some doubt as to the exact connotation of the word. See under DIVINATION. The English Versions of the Bible make this noun the name of a place; but no such place is known and the derivation and form of the word are clear and certain. We have a similar phrase similarly misunderstood by our translators in Genesis 12:6 where the "oak of Moreh" should be "the oak" (or "terebinth?") "of the diviner" or "augur," for moreh is also a part. = "one who teaches" or "directs." Probably the same tree is meant, since in each ease the neighborhood is that of Shechem. The worship of trees, or rather the deity supposed to make them his home, has prevailed very widely. See W. R. Smith, Rel. Semitic.(2), 195; compare Judges 4:5; II Samuel 5:24 and "the oak of Zeus at Dodona. " In Judges 9:6 we read of a "matstsebhah, oak tree": the tree with an altar on which sacrifices were offered. The oak trees of Genesis 12:6 and of Judges 9:37, if two distinct trees are meant, would be trees which the Canaanites had been in the habit of consulting: hence, the name.
T. Witton Davies
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