The name Tamar in the Bible
There are three women and two towns named Tamar in the Bible. The women are:
- The wife of Er, the son of Judah (Genesis 38:6). After Er's death she becomes the mother of Judah's twin sons Perez and Zerah. Perez went on to become the ancestor of king David, and thus Jesus Christ. Tamar is one of four women mentioned by name in the Matthean genealogy of Christ (spelled in Greek Θαμαρ, Thamar; Matthew 1:3).
- The sister of Absalom, the third son of king David (2 Samuel 13). This Tamar is raped by her half-brother Amnon (v14). Two years later Absalom has Amnon assassinated (v28). Absalom flees and stays gone for three years (v38). All this time David longs for him, but when Absalom returns to the court, five years after Tamar's revenge (v 28), he has become the insurrectionist for which he is most known (15:6).
- By then, Absalom is the father of three sons and one daughter, which he named Tamar (14:27), most likely after her violated aunt.
The towns named Tamar are:
- A town in the wilderness, probably of Judah (the text says: "in the land"), built by Solomon (1 Kings 9:18). Note that in the Middle Ages the Masoretes figured that this town was Tadmor (תדמר), which still is a town in Syria, possibly to make 1 Kings 9:18 coincide with 2 Chronicles 8:4. Still, the statement in Chronicles appears to place Tadmor close to Hamath, in Syria, whereas Kings places Tamar among the towns of Judah.
- A town probably somewhere south-east of the Salt Sea (Ezekiel 47:19).
Etymology of the name Tamar
The name Tamar comes from the noun תמר (tamar), meaning palm tree:
NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names agree: The name Tamar means Palm, or Palm Tree.