Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The root-verb תמר (tmr) does not occur in Scriptures, but the Arabic cognate means to be erect, stiff. In the Bible the following derivatives remain:
- The masculine noun תמר (tomer), primarily meaning palm tree (Judges 4:5) but secondarily something like a sign post or pillar (Jeremiah 10:5). The latter verse may be parallel with a verse in the apocryphal book of Baruch (6:70), where a scarecrow (probaskanion) is mentioned. Hence some translations (RSV, NEB) insert this word in Jeremiah 10:5.
- The masculine noun תמר (tamar), meaning palm tree. The palm tree serves in the Bible as symbol of prosperity (Psalm 92:12), or as signature element of an oasis (Exodus 15:27). In Biblical symbolic jargon, the character of a person is often associated with the tree this person sits under (Abraham under his oaks, Nathanael under his fig tree). The only female judge of Israel, namely Deborah, held seat under a palm tree (Judges 4:5), which seems to suggest that the palm tree symbolized justice, but of a particular feminine kind, if such a thing exists. But it would certainly render additional meaning to the story of Amnon's rape of his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:14). The lush town of Jericho was known as Ir-hatamarim, or the City of Palms (Deuteronomy 34:3, Judges 1:16).
- The feminine noun תמרה (timora), which are images of palm trees. In both the temples of Solomon and the temple of Ezekiel, these images of palm trees appear lavishly (1 Kings 6:29-35, Ezekiel 40:16-26).
- The feminine noun תימרה (timara), denoting a palm-like pillar which bulges at the top. This word is used only in reference to columns of smoke (but not the column of smoke; Song of Solomon 3:6, Joel 2:30).
- The masculine noun תמרור (tamrur), which is a doubtful word (says BDB Theological Dictionary). It occurs only once, in plural, in Jeremiah 31:21, and obviously denotes some kind of marker; a sign post of sorts. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament translates this word with a curious "high leap," but offers no commentary. Also note that this noun is identical to the noun תמרור (tamrur), meaning bitterness, from the root מרר (marar), meaning to be bitter or strong (see the name Maria).