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Meaning and etymology of the name Tamar

Tamar Tamar

The name Tamar occurs five times in the Bible. Tamar is 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.
Another Tamar is 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 Absolom has Amnon assassinated (v28). Absolom flees and stays gone for three years (v38). All this time David longs for him, but when Absolom 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, Absolom is the father of three sons and one daughter, which he named Tamar (14:27), most likely after her violated aunt.
Then there are two towns named Tamar, one in the wilderness of Judah, built by Solomon (1 Kings 9:18), the other probably somewhere south-east of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:19).

The name Tamar comes from either of two words Tamar (tomer) or Tamar (tamar), both meaning palm tree. The root-verb Tamar does not occur in Scriptures, but the Arabic cognate means to be erect, stiff.

The palm tree serves in the Bible as symbol of prosperity (Ps 92:12), or as signature element of an oasis (Exodus 15:27). The lush town of Jericho was known as the City of Palms (Deuteronomy 24:3). In both the temples of Solomon and the temple of Ezekiel, images of palm trees appear lavishly (1 Kings 6:29-35, Ezekiel 40:16-26). These images are called timora (timorah), a word that yields the name that is popular today: Tamarah.

NOBS Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names agree: The name Tamar means Palm, or Palm Tree.



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