🔼The name Shomer: Summary
- Watch Keeper, Guarded
- From the verb שמר (shamar), to keep or guard.
🔼The name Shomer in the Bible
There are two people named Shomer in the Bible, one man and one either male or female:
- One Shomer (spelled שומר) is mentioned in the genealogy of Asher, as the son of Heber (1 Chronicles 7:32). In 7:34 is mentioned a Shemer, which is the same name but pronounced slightly different. Why the Masoretes imposed this difference is unknown (possibly because they figured Shomer and Shemer were different people), but the Septuagint and Vulgate confirm this difference.
- The other Shomer is a parent of Jehozabad, who conspired with Jozabad and killed king Joash, but it's unclear whether Shomer is his father or mother (2 Kings 12:21, spelled שמר). In the parallel text of 2 Chronicles 24:26, the mother of Jehozabad is called Shimrith, which is so closely related to the name Shomer that many assume that Shomer and Shimrith are the same person. The objection is that the people of Israel were most commonly identified after their father, and without the specific note that Shomer was his mother, the audience would have assumed that Shomer was his father. The strongest counter-arguments are (a) Shimeath, Jehozabad's comrogue's unspecified parent in 2 Kings, is said to be his mother in 2 Chronicles — even though the comrogue's name differs over the two accounts, and (b) the story of Joash' assassination was probably so well-known at the time the book of Kings was written, that the maternity of Shomer could have been omitted without further consequences. But ultimately, we don't know.
🔼Etymology of the name Shomer
The name Shomer comes from the verb שמר (shamar):
The verb שמר (shamar) means to guard or to exercise great care over. Noun שמרה (shomra) means guard. Noun שמר (shimmur) means night watch. Noun אשמורה ('ashmura) or אשמרת ('ashmoret) refers to the night watch as unit of time. Noun משמר (mishmar) describes the "place or agent" of guarding, which may come down to either a prison or a guard, but it may also describe the keeping on some religious observances or something like that. Noun משמרת (mishmeret), literally meaning "with the function of watching," used in the sense of a charge or obligation; an official function of guarding. Noun שמרה (shemura) describes an eyelid.
Noun שמר (shemer) describes the dregs or residue that collects at the bottom of a bottle of wine. This word may stem from a whole other root, or it reflects the similarity between patiently standing through a night watch and a bottle ageing in a rack. This word may also describe a stagnant heart, either as a heart in which dregs settle out or a heart that's carefully guarded.
Noun שמיר (shamir) describes some kind of wild, thorny vegetation that covers large areas. Again, this noun may stem from a whole other verb, but a hedge of thorns is not unlike a perimeter peopled by armed guards, or even a tender heart that's guarded by sarcasm and a proneness to insult.
The noun שמור (shamor), fennel, equals the Greek noun μαραθον (marathon), and Greece's victory at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) made the whole world Greek.
For a meaning of the name Shomer, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Keeper, Watchman. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Guarded. BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate this name.