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SHEMER (shē'mẽr, Heb. shemer, guard). Owner of a hill in central Palestine that Omri king of Israel bought, fortified, and named Samaria after its former owner (1Kgs.16.24; 1Chr.6.46). This man’s name is Shamar in KJV of Chronicles.

SHEMER she’ mər (שֶׁ֖מֶר; LXX Σαμηρ, meaning uncertain; perhaps watch). 1. Owner of a hill purchased by Omri as the site for a city he called Samaria (after שֹׁמְרֹ֛ון, “belonging to Shemer”) (1 Kings 16:24).

2. Merarite forebear of a singer placed in the Temple at Jerusalem by David (1 Chron 6:46).

3. A descendant of Asher, named in the genealogical lists (1 Chron 7:34; called “Shomer” in v. 32).

Place-name studies of Samaria (“Shomeron”) indicate that it may be connected with the city’s fortifications, constructed by Shemer. Identification has also been proposed with Shamir (Judg 10:1), the lifetime home of a judge named Tola.


G. A. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1906), 346; F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, II (1938), 444; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 98, 223.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(shemer; Semer, Lucian, Semmer):

(1) The owner of the hill which Omri bought and which became the site of Samaria (1Ki 16:24, shomeron). Shemer may be an ancient clan name. The fact, however, that the mountain was called Shomeron when Omri bought it makes one doubt that the city of Samaria was named after Shemer; the passage is questionable. The real etymology of Samaria roots it in "watch mountain" (see Stade, Zeitschrift, 165 f).

(2) A Merarite (1Ch 6:46 (31), Semmer).

(3) An Asherite (1Ch 7:34, A and Lucian, Somer), called "Shomer" in 1Ch 7:32.

(4) A Benjamite (1Ch 8:12, Codex Vaticanus Semer; Codex Alexandrinus Semmer; Lucian, Samaiel); the Revised Version (British and American) "Shemed," the King James Version "Shamed."

The Hebrew manuscripts differ; some read "Shemer," others "Shemedh."

Horace J. Wolf