🔼The name Hazazon-tamar: Summary
- Split Palm, Compartmentalized Semi-Free Market
- From (1) the verb חצץ (hasas), to divide, and (2) the noun תמר (tamar), palm tree.
🔼The name Hazazon-tamar in the Bible
The town named Hazazon-tamar is mentioned twice in the Bible. During the War of Four Against Five Kings, the Tetrad Alliance conquered among others the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar (Genesis 14:7, spelled חצצון תמר). Much later, the Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites, gathered at Hazazon-tamar to wage war on king Jehoshaphat of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:2, spelled חצצן תמר). The Chronicler also reveals that Hazazon-tamar was also known as En-gedi.
🔼Etymology of the name Hazazon-tamar
The name Hazazon-tamar obviously consists of two elements. The first part comes from the verb חצץ (hasas), meaning to divide:
The verb חצץ (hasas) means to divide but seems to emphasize a division into many smaller bits. Noun חצץ (hasas) means gravel and noun חץ (hes) means arrow. From the latter comes the denominative verb חצץ (hasas), to shoot arrows, or literally to "do the thing with the many different bits".
The verb חצה (hasa) means to divide as well, but appears to emphasize a division down the middle: to halve or even to share. Noun חצות (hesot) means division or middle. Nouns מחצה (mehesa), מחצית (mahasit) and חצי (hasi) mean half or middle. Identical to the latter, the noun חצי (hesi) means arrow.
The second part of our name is the same as the name Tamar, and comes from the noun תמר (tamar), meaning palm tree:
The noun תמר (tamar) means palm tree but it's not immediately clear from what verb it comes, and thus how the ancients saw the palm tree — in the Bible all trees (oaks, figs, olives, and so on) relate to certain aspects of the wisdom tradition. Female judge Deborah had her seat under a palm tree, which seems to suggest that the palm tree related to a kind of popular court.
Noun תמר (tomer) also means palm tree but secondarily refers to a kind of sign post or pillar. Nouns תמרה (timora) and תימרה (timara) refer to palm-like artistic expressions; the first word describes an image of a palm tree and the second a palm-like pillar. Since the word "palm-like" does not necessarily mean to look like a palm, but merely to imitate some kind of signature quality of the palm, it's debated what a palm-like item might actually be.
It appears that the palm tree reminded the ancients of a social focal point that was spontaneously and organically established (rather than by some decree or violence or trickery). A palm is like paths that form in an open field with a well at the center, or it's like the effects of a free market, which drives society to unknown heights that no single trader could have imagined.
For a meaning of the name Hazazon-tamar, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Pruning Of The Palm. BDB Theological Dictionary interprets only half translates our name and gives חצצון the meaning Of The Palm.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the name Hazazon-tamar meditates on how to regulate a free market. One way to do that is to compartmentalize the market into sub-markets with all their own specialized rules. Our modern market is obviously compartmentalized, with dedicated rules that differ for commodities and products, and for locally produced items and imported ones. Our interpretation of this name: Compartmentalized Semi-Free Market.