🔼The name Jambres in the Bible
The name Jambres occurs only once in the Bible. In his second letter to his young friend Timothy, Paul refers to the legend of Jannes and Jambres and their foiled opposition to Moses (2 Timothy 3:8), and compares it to the inevitable attitude of most religious folks of the latter days, with lots of blather and no real power.
This folkloric legend of Jannes and Jambres probably started out as a spin-off of the battle-of-wits between Moses and Aaron on one side and the magicians of Egypt on the other (Exodus 7:9-13), but its surprisingly rich legacy in ancient literature and the width of the application of the Jannes and Jambres characters (see our article on the name Jannes for more detail) suggests that this legend was never meant to reflect newspaper reality but rather allegory.
What precisely Jannes and Jambres personified isn't clear beyond their obvious failure to stick to the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but Paul's lack of hesitation to use this legend as fortification of his earlier assertions, also demonstrates his belief that "all writing" (πασα γραφη, pasa graphe) is God-breathed and profitable for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16).
Paul's view is obviously contrary to the ludicrous position of certain religious folk of the latter days, who maintain that solely our modern Bible is God-breathed. Our modern Bible didn't even exist when Paul wrote this, in the 60's in Rome. At that time the Hebrew canon was not agreed upon and the gospels and Revelation didn't exist yet (as they were written in the immediate post-Templar period of 70 to 100 AD).
Of course Paul acknowledged a distinction between so-called Holy Scriptures and the rest of literature, but people who ponder the term "God-breathed" often appear to forget what an amazing thing written language is. Writing is the beginning of information technology, and it changed everything for mankind.
🔼Etymology of the name Jambres
It's not clear whether the name Jambres was originally Egyptian and transliterated into Greek, or perhaps rather Hebrew in origin (as the tale itself) and descriptive of his literary qualities. The latter possibility is more likely to be true, and in Hebrew writing this character is usually given as ימבריס (Yambres) or even ממרא (Mamre).
The latter name is familiar because it was also the name of the place where Abraham dwelt: the oaks of Mamre, which is not just some place with nice trees but a reference to a wisdom school (and particularly one of low esteem — the word for oak is also the word for fool; see our article on אלון, 'allon).
Where the name Mamre comes from is also not clear but the first of the two מ's is probably a prefix that means "place/agent of". The second part may come from the verb מרא (mara'), meaning fat or well-fed:
Another possible root of our name is the verb מרר (marar), meaning to be strong or bitter, or the verb מרה (mara), meaning to be contentious or rebellious:
For a meaning of the name Jambres, NOBSE Study Bible Name List suggests Opposer while the Jewish Encyclopedia appears to favor The Rebel, but these are rather uninspired interpretations that fail to incorporate the notion that the story of Jannes and Jambres originated in the greatest literary tradition our world has ever seen, and which hasn't been surpassed or even approximated since.
Here at Abarim Publications we guess that Jannes and Jambres represent two kindred attitudes that fail to be wholly in synch with the Natural Laws of God but nevertheless manage to acquire great power. We're guessing that Jannes represents mankind's persistent vice to want a return that exceeds the investment (demonstrated for instance by a prayer meeting in which people ask magic intervention of God but engage in no further action themselves), and Mamre the common but detrimental desire to live a life of excess and redundancy.
In other words: Jannes means For Free and Jambres means More Than Enough.