tamar. The Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm; for which Israel was famous, as appears from the many names derived from it. Grows best at "fountains" (Exodus 15:27; Numbers 33:9 (See ELIM.), Deuteronomy 2:8 (See ELATH.) Jericho was "the city of palmtrees" (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16; Judges 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15). (See JERICHO; HAZEZON TAMAR; ENGEDI; BAAL TAMAR.) (Judges 20:33). TAMAR the last town of Judaea, by the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:19); Robinson makes its site El-Milh between Hebron and wady Muse. For TADMOR (2 Chronicles 8:4) in 1 Kings 9:18 the best reading is Tamar, "the palm city," Roman "Palmyra," on an oasis of the Syrian desert, in the caravan route between Damascus and the Euphrates. BETHANY means "house of dates"; thence the multitude took the palm branches to honor Christ (John 12:13), and from Olivet the people under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:15) took palms, the tree named in instituting the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23:40).
Phoenicia (Acts 11:19) takes its name from the palm; compare Phenice in Crete, Acts 27:12. From the uprightness and beauty of the palm the name Tamar was applied to women (Song of Solomon 7:7; Genesis 38:6; 2 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 14:27). The walls, doors, bases and posts of the temples of Solomon and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:16; Ezekiel 40:22; Ezekiel 40:26; Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37; Ezekiel 41:18-20; Ezekiel 41:25-26; 1 Kings 6:29; 1 Kings 6:32-35; 1 Kings 7:36) were decorated with palmtrees in relief. Rigid motionless uprightness is the point of comparison to the pagan idols in Jeremiah 10:4-5. "The righteous shall flourish like the palmtree" (Psalm 92:12); full of the "oil" of grace ever "fresh" (Psalm 92:10), looking calmly down on the world below and bearing its precious fruit for generations. The psalm refers to the church in holy convocation on the Sabbath (title). The tabernacle is alluded to, the meeting place between God and His people; the oil-fed candlestick had the form of a tree with flowers and fruits.
The palm denotes the saint's spiritual beauty, ever fresh joy, and fruitfulness; his orderly upright aspect, perpetual verdure, rising from earth toward heaven. Also the elastic fibber sending it upward, however loaded with weights and agitated by winds, symbolizes the believer sitting already in heavenly places, in spite of earthly burdens (Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 2:6; Philemon 3:20; Philemon 4:6; Acts 20:23-24). Rough to the touch, encased below in dry bark, but fruitful and green above; so the saint despised below, beautiful above, straitened with many trials here, but there bearing fruit before God unto everlasting life (2 Corinthians 4:8-18). The "great multitude of all nations before the Lamb with palms in their hands" are antitypical to that which escorted Christ at His triumphal entry (Revelation 7:9, etc.). The palm symbolizes their joyful triumph after having come out of "the great tribulation."
The palm was carried with willows and thick trees (rabbinically called lulab) in the hand at the feast of tabernacles, the thanksgiving for the ingathered fruits, and the commemoration of Israel's 40 years' sojourn in tabernacles in the wilderness. The earthly feast shall be renewed in commemoration of Israel's wilderness-like dispersion and sojourn among the nations (Zechariah 14:16). The final and heavenly antitype is Revelation 7:9, etc. The palm is dioecious, i.e. the male stamens and female pistils are on different trees. Fertilization, or impregnating the female plant with the pollen of the male, is effected by insects or artificially. In Song of Solomon 7:8 the "daughters of Jerusalem," no longer content with admiring, resolve, in spite of the height of the fruit at the utmost top of the palm, and the difficulty of climbing the stem, bore for a great height, to "take hold of the boughs" with their crown of fruit (Psalm 34:8).
The palm grows from 30 to 80 feet, does not bear fruit for the first six or seven years, but will bear for a hundred (Psalm 92:14). Slowly, but steadily and enduringly, the average crop is 100 pounds a year. The Arabs are said to have 360 designations for the palm and to enumerate 360 uses of it. The abortive fruit and date stones ground the camels eat. Of the leaves they make couches, baskets, bags, mats, brushes, fly flaps; from the trunk cages and fences; from the fibber of the leaves, thread for cordage; from the sap collected by cutting the head off, and scooping a hollow in the stem, a spirituous liquor. The pilgrims to Israel used to bring home palms, from whence they were called "palmers." Vespasian's coin bore the palm and Zion as a woman sitting sadly beneath, and the legend "Judaea captive" (see p. 405). Once the prevalent fruit tree, it now is nowhere in Israel except in the Philistine plain.