TADMOR tăd’ môr (Heb. תַּדְמֹ֖ר), the city of palm trees, later made famous in Gr. and Lat. history as Palmyra, was an ancient military outpost, trading center, and customs station located in the Syrian desert, half-way between Damascus and the upper Euphrates River. It was a large and pleasant oasis with wonderfully fine mineral springs, fertile soils, and many gardens and palm groves—the only supply station of any consequences on the shorter trade route between Babylonia and Syria.
Tadmor’s inhabitants are mentioned in cuneiform inscrs. of the 19th and 18th centuries b.c., and early in the 11th cent. in the annals of Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria, who attacked the Aramaeans who lived there. The Biblical narratives inform us that when King Solomon took N Syria along the Beqa’a and Orontes Valleys as far N as Hamath, he not only built “store cities” in the Hamath area, but also “built [or rebuilt] Tadmor in the wilderness” (
No more is heard of Tadmor until 64 b.c., when Mark Antony raided its merchants who had grown rich through the Babylonian and Indian trade which had passed through there.
In early Rom. times Tadmor enjoyed considerable commercial prosperity, and splendid buildings were constructed under Hadrian (a.d. 117-138), but its colorful period of history began in a.d. 241 when Odenathus the younger went into the desert where he trained the Bedouin Cavalry and spearmen. He also married Zenobia, a powerful Sheikh’s daughter in whose veins coursed the blood of the Arab, the Egyptian, and the Greek. With the forces which he and the Bedouin chiefs gathered, he fought and overcame Rome’s enemies, and exercised his subtle political strategy until a.d. 258, when Emperor Valerian made Odenathus a Rom. consul. Thereafter, for almost twelve years he directed the affairs of Palmyra, consolidated the political and military forces, and conquered surrounding areas until he was the acknowledged master of this part of the world—and that with the approval of Rome.
Then about the year a.d. 267, Odenathus was assassinated by a nephew, whom he had punished for insubordination, and Zenobia, his gifted queen, took the reins of the government and ruled alone in Palmyra as regent of the E. She not only erected more buildings and further improved the city, but placed herself at the head of her well-trained army and extended and consolidated her domains eastward to Persia and westward to the Mediterranean. Palmyra became the acknowledged center of the Near Eastern world, and Zenobia the woman without an equal in beauty, in governmental efficiency, and in military prowess. Yet her lack of moderation led her to assume imperial titles, inscribe them on her coins, and send a military expedition to conquer Egypt.
Soon after becoming emperor of Rome in a.d. 270, Aurelian marched in triumph through Asia Minor, fought and defeated Zenobia’s armies at Antioch and Emisa (Homs), then trekked over the desert and laid siege to Palmyra in a.d. 272. In secrecy Zenobia fled eastward to rally her Pers. forces, but was captured on the ferry boat as she was attempting to cross the Euphrates River. She was returned to Palmyra and taken to Rome in the emperor’s triumphal march. Gibbon says the emperor provided her with a villa and she lived thereafter the life of a “comfortable Roman matron.”
Tadmor was placed in subjection, but soon revolted and was virtually destroyed. Later the city was fortified by Justinian, but during the 7th cent. it fell to the Moslems. In recent years Tadmor is being excavated, and appears to travelers as one of the most impressive ruins of the ancient world.
New Standard Bible Dictionary (1936), 884; J. A. Hammerton, Wonders of the Past, I (1948), 531-542; L. Cottrell, The Past (1960), 337, 338; IDB, IV (1962), 509, 510; J. D. Douglas, The New Bible Dictionary (1962), 1235, 1236.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
tad’-mor, tad’-mor (tadhmor): A city built by Solomon in the wilderness (