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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Tadmor

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TADMOR (Palmyra). In 2 Chronicles 8:4 we read that Solomon built ‘Tadmor in the [Syrian] desert.’ It has long been recognized that Tadmor is here a mistake for ‘ Tamar in the [Judæan] desert’ of the corresponding passage in 1Kings ( 1 Kings 9:18 ). The Chronicler, or one of his predecessors, no doubt thought it necessary to emend in this fashion a name that was scarcely known to him. (That it is really the city of Tadmor so famous in after times that is meant, is confirmed by the equally unhistorical details given in 2 Chronicles 8:3-4 regarding the Syrian cities of Hamath and Zobah.) Hence arose the necessity for the Jewish schools to change the Tamar of 1 Kings 9:18 in turn into Tadmor [the Qerç in that passage], so as to agree with the text of the Chronicler. The LXX [Note: Septuagint.] translator of 1 Kings 9:13 appears to have already had this correction before him. Nevertheless it is quite certain that Tamar is the original reading. But the correction supplies a very important evidence that at the time when Chronicles was composed ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 200), Tadmor was already a place of note, around the founding of which a fabulous splendour had gathered, so that it appeared fitting to attribute it to Solomon. This fiction maintained itself, and received further embellishments. The pre-Islamic poet Nâbigha ( 1 Kings 9:22 ff., ed. Ahlwardt, c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 600) relates that, by Divine command, the demons built Solomon’s Tadmor by forced labour. This piece of information he may have picked up locally; what he had in view would he, of course, the remains, which must have been still very majestic, of the city whose climax of splendour was reached in the 2nd and 3rd cent. a.d.

Tadmor, of whose origin and earlier history we know nothing, lay upon a great natural road through the desert, not far from the Euphrates, and not very far from Damascus. It was thus between Syria, Babylonia, and Mesopotamia proper. Since water, although not in great abundance, was also found on the spot, Tadmor supplied a peaceable and intelligent population with all the conditions necessary for a metropolis of the caravan trade. Such we find in the case of Palmyra , whose identity with Tadmor was all along maintained, and has recently been assured by numerous inscriptions. The first really historical mention of the place (b.c. 37 or 36) tells how the wealth of this centre of trade incited M. Antony to a pillaging campaign (Appian, Bell. Civ. v. 9).

The endings of the two names Tadmor and Palmyra are the same, but not the first syllable. It is not clear why the Westerns made such an alteration in the form. The name Palmyra can hardly have anything to do with palms . It would, indeed, be something very remarkable if in this Eastern district the Lat. palma was used at so early a date in the formation of names. The Oriental form Tadmor is to be kept quite apart from tâmâr , ‘palm.’ Finally, it is unlikely that the palm was ever extensively cultivated on the spot.

Neither in the OT nor in the NT is there any other mention of Tadmor (Palmyra), and Josephus names it only when he reproduces the above passage of Chronicles ( Ant. VIII. vi. 1). The place exercised, indeed, no considerable influence on the history either of ancient Israel or of early Christianity. There is therefore no occasion to go further into the history, once so glorious and finally so tragic, of the great city, or to deal with the fortunes of the later somewhat inconsiderable place, which now, in spite of its imposing ruins, is desolate in the extreme, but which still bears the ancient name Tadmor ( Tedmur, Tudmur ).

Th. Nöldeke.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tadmor'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/t/tadmor.html. 1909.

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