🔼The name Shemer: Summary
- Guard, Dregs
- From the verb שמר (shamar), to keep or guard.
🔼The name Shemer in the Bible
There are three men named Shemer in the Bible:
- The man from whom king Omri of Israel bought the hill Samaria, upon which the latter built the city that would be the capital of the northern kingdom until the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria (1 Kings 16:24).
- A great-grandson of Merari, the son of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:46). The King James Version calls this man Shamer.
- A son of Japhlet of Asher (1 Chronicles 7:34). This Shemer is possibly the same as the Shomer mentioned in verse 7:32, although it's striking that the classic translations of the Bible, and the Masoretes chose to differentiate them.
🔼Etymology of the name Shemer
The name Shemer possibly comes from the verb שמר (shamar), meaning to keep, guard, observe or give heed, but note that it is spelled and punctuated the same as the noun שמר (shemer), meaning dregs, or sedimentary residue, from root שמר II:
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 Shemer, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Guard. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Custody, and adds "i.e. the object of watchfulness". BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate the name Shemer, lists it under the verb שמר (shamar), but also marks it as identical to the noun שמר (shemer), meaning dregs.