Were Bela and Balaam originally the same person?

2018-03-13 20:10:17

Genesis 36.31-32 (NRSV)

These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. Bela son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah.

Numbers 22.5 (NRSV)

He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates, in the land of Amaw

The Hebrew text for 'Bela son of Beor' is בלע בן־בעור.

The Hebrew text for 'Balaam son of Beor' is בלעם בן־בעור.

The only difference in the names (prior to the much later additions of vowel points) is the letter Mem.

These nearly-identical names make me curious if this obscure king and the infamous prophet ultimately trace back to the same core figure. (The prophetic identification of Balaam is additionally attested by the Deir Alla Inscription, with no hint of royalty to his name, as far as I can tell.) Is there any evidence the Genesis text may have originally said בלעם, with the Mem dropped by textual corruption? Have extra-biblical texts, ancient commen