🔼The name Mamre: Summary
- From Seeing
- From Being Well Fed
- From (1) מן (min), from, and (2) the verb ראה (ra'a), to see or understand.
- From the noun ממר (memer), bitterness.
- From (1) מן (min), from, and (2) the verb מרא (mara'), to be fat or well fed.
🔼The name Mamre in the Bible
It's not always emphasized but since the Bible is concerned with the history of mankind's wisdom tradition rather than with sight-seeing, the famous "oaks of Mamre" obviously don't denote a breezy stand of fine timber but a wisdom school.
🔼Etymology of the name Mamre
The word mamre does not occur as such in Hebrew, but two distinct possible roots catch the eye:
1) The noun ממר (memer) meaning bitterness, from the root מרר (marar) meaning to be bitter or being strong:
The verb מרר (marar) means to be strong or bitter and can be used to describe tastes and smells, and hard or difficult situations.
Adjectives מר (mar) and מרירי (meriri) mean bitter. Nouns מרור (maror) and מרורה (merora) refer to any bitter thing, the former specifically to a certain bitter herb, and the latter to gall or poison.
Noun מררה (merera) also means gal. Nouns מרה (morra), מרה (mora), מרירות (merirut), ממר (memer), ממרור (mamror) and תמרור (tamrur) mean bitterness. The latter noun is spelled identical to the noun תמרור (tamrur), meaning marker or sign post, from the root תמר (tamar), meaning to be stiff or erect.
And speaking of such, the nouns מר (mor) and מור (mor) mean myrrh, a bitter and fragrant spice that was originally used to mark the tabernacle, but which came to be used to proclaim, olfactorily, the consummation of marriage. Hence, despite its links to words that mostly describe hardship, myrrh oil was known as the "oil of joy."
Verb מרה (mara) means to be contentious or rebellious, particularly against God. Noun מרי (meri) means rebellion.
The verb מור (mor) means to change. Perhaps the connection between the previous is coincidental but perhaps these words are indeed linked, as change is often reaction to bitterness or opposition. The noun תמורה (temura) means exchange.
2) The root group מרא (mr'):
The verb מרא (mara') means to be fat or well-fed (and thus of a high social rank). Noun מריא (meri') denotes a fatling or fattened animal. The noun מראה (mur'a) denotes a part of a bird, obviously a fatty part.
However, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names sees the name Mamre as a compilation. According to Jones, the double m comes from מן (min), meaning from. The latter part of the name Mamre, according to Jones, comes from ראה (ra'ah), a verb meaning to see:
The verb ראה (ra'a) means to see, and by extension to understand. It may mean to become visible (of, say, an angel) or to become understandable (of, say, a theory). Noun ראה (ro'eh) means either seer, or prophetic vision, and noun מראה (mar'a) means either vision as means of revelation, or mirror. Nouns ראית (re'ut) and ראות (re'ut) mean a looking. Nouns ראי (ro'i) and מראה (mar'eh) mean sight or appearance. Adjective ראה (ra'eh) means seeing.
Hence Jones renders From Seeing, which seems a bit contrived.
NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with the verb that means strong, and reads Firmness, probably because the name Mamre brings to mind the oaks of Mamre.