Ta’mar (palm tree).
1. The wife successively of the two sons of Judah, Er and Onan. Gen. 38:6–30. (b.c. about 1718.) Her importance in the sacred narrative depends on the great anxiety to keep up the lineage of Judah. It seemed as if the family were on the point of extinction. Er and Onan had successively perished suddenly. Judah’s wife, Bathshuah, died; and there only remained a child, Shelah, whom Judah was unwilling to trust to the dangerous union, as it appeared, with Tamar, lest he should meet with the same fate as his brothers. Accordingly she resorted to the desperate expedient of entrapping the father himself into the union which he feared for his son. The fruits of this intercourse were twins, Pharez and Zarah, and through Pharez the sacred line was continued.
2. Daughter of David and Maachah the Geshurite princess, and thus sister of Absalom. 2 Sam. 13:1–32; 1 Chron. 3:9. (b.c. 1033.) She and her brother were alike remarkable for their extraordinary beauty. This fatal beauty inspired a frantic passion in her half-brother Amnon, the oldest son of David by Ahinoam. In her touching remonstrance two points are remarkable: first, the expression of the infamy of such a crime “in Israel,” implying the loftier standard of morals that prevailed, as compared with other countries at that time; and second, the belief that even this standard might be overborne lawfully by royal authority—“Speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from thee.” The intense hatred of Amnon succeeding to his brutal passion, and the indignation of Tamar at his barbarous insult, even surpassing her indignation at his shameful outrate, are pathetically and graphically told.
4. A spot on the southeastern frontier of Judah, named in Ezek. 47:19; 48:28 only, evidently called from a palm tree. If not Hazazon-tamar, the old name of Engedi, it may be a place called Thamar in the Onomasticon [Hazazon-tamar], a day’s journey south of Hebron.