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TAMAR (tā'mêr, Heb. tāmār, palm tree)

TAMAR tā’ mər (תָמָ֨ר, palm tree). 1. Jacob’s son Judah’s daughter-in-law and widowed wife of Judah’s son Er. Er’s brother Onan refused to father children for Er by Tamar in accordance with contemporary practice. When he died, Tamar returned to her Canaanite home after Judah promised that she should have his third son Shelah when he had grown old enough. Judah did not fulfill his promise, and after his wife died, Tamar seduced Judah by hiding her identity and pretending to be a harlot of the heathen worship cult. When Judah learned of her pregnancy, he demanded her death, but Tamar proved that she had conceived by Judah himself by showing him the pledges he had unsuspectingly given her. Judah was convicted of the wrong he had done her, and she was spared. One of the twins born to Tamar by Judah was Perez. He was in the direct line of the ancestry of David, and hence of Christ (Gen 38; Matt 1:3-6; Luke 3:31-33).

2. A beautiful daughter of David, sexually assaulted by her infatuated half brother Amnon, who contrived the deed by feigning illness and arranging to have Tamar bring food to him. After this revolting act, Amnon rejected her with loathing. Her brother Absalom learned of the deed when Tamar expressed her sorrowful outrage by dress and manner. Absalom took the desolate girl into his home while he plotted to avenge her. After two years Absalom contrived to have Amnon murdered for his crime (2 Sam 13).

3. A beautiful daughter of Absalom, possibly named for his beloved sister (2 Sam 14:27).

4. A town of uncertain site near the border of Judah and Edom at the S end of the Dead Sea. Mentioned by Ezekiel as a border place of the future restored Israel (Ezek 47:19; 48:28). It appears that the town was fortified, possibly to protect trade running S to the Red Sea or to serve as a supply point. It is believed that this may be the town Solomon built mentioned in 1 Kings 9:18 (Tadmor KJV and 2 Chron 8:4). George Adam Smith thought the latter, because it was said to be “in the wilderness in the land...must be sought for somewhere in the wilderness of Judea, and where more suitably than in this frontier village of Hazazon-tamar?” Hazazontamar was one of the names of Engedi (cf. 2 Chron 20:2).


on the city. G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 24th edition, 270; J. A. Montgomery, The Books of Kings, ed. by Gehman (1951), 206-209.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(tamar, "palm"; Codex Vaticanus Themar; Codex Alexandrinus Thamar (so Codex Vaticanus in Genesis)):

(1) The wife of Er, the oldest son of Judah (Ge 38:6 ). Upon her husband’s death under the displeasure of Yahweh, his brother Onan ought to have performed the husband’s part, but he evaded his duty in this respect, and likewise perished. Shelah, the next brother, was promised to her, but not given. This led Tamar to the extraordinary course narrated in Ge 38:13 ff, on which see Judah. By her father-in-law she became the mother of Perez and Zerah (the King James Version "Pharez and Zarah"). Judah, who at first condemned her to be burned (Ge 38:24), was compelled to vindicate her (Ge 38:25,26). Through Perez she became an ancestress of Jesus (Thamar, Mt 1:3).

(2) A daughter of David and sister of Absalom (2Sa 13:1 ). Her beauty inflamed her half-brother Amnon with passion, and by stratagem he forcibly violated her. This brought upon Amnon the terrible revenge of Absalom.

See Absalom; Amnon.

(3) A daughter of Absalom (2Sa 14:27).

See Maacah.

(tamar, "palm tree"; Thaiman):

(1) This name occurs in Ezekiel’s ideal delimitation of the territory to be occupied by Israel (Eze 47:19; 48:28). The Dead Sea is the eastern border; and the southern boundary runs from Tamar as far as the waters of Meriboth-kadesh to the Brook of Egypt and the Great Sea. The place therefore lay somewhere to the Southwest of the Dead Sea. "Hazazon-tamar (the same is En-gedi)" (2Ch 20:2) is of course out of the question, being much too far to the North. Eusebius (in Onomasticon) mentions Asasonthamar, with which Thamara was identified. This place was a village with fortress and Roman garrison, a day’s journey from Mampsis on the way from Hebron to Elath. It is the Thamaro mentioned by Ptolemy (v.16, 8), as a military station on the road from Hebron to Petra. It is named also in the Peutinger Tables. Neither Mampsis nor Thamaro has been identified.

(2) Among the towns "built" or fortified by Solomon, named in 1Ki 9:18, is Tamar (the Revised Version (British and American) following Kethibh), or Tadmor (the King James Version following Qere; compare 2Ch 8:4). Gezer, Beth-horon and Baalath, named along with it, are all in Southern Palestine, while Tamar is described as in the wilderness in the land, pointing to the Negeb or to the Wilderness of Judah. It was probably intended to protect the road for trade from Ezion-geber to Jerusalem. We may with some confidence identify it with (1) above. It is interesting to note that the Chronicler (2Ch 8:4) takes it out of connection with the other cities (2Ch 8:5), and brings its building into relation with Solomon’s conquest of Hamath-zobah. Clearly in his mind it denoted the great and beautiful city of Palmyra, which has so long been known as "Tadmor in the Wilderness."