TADMOR (Heb. תַּדְמֹר; Palmyra), an oasis city at the point of intersection of the caravan roads in the central Syrian desert and the steppe land between Lebanon and Jabel Bishri, halfway between the Euphrates and the Orontes River in the Mediterranean Sea area. In classical sources it is called Palmyra, a direct translation of its Semitic name Tadmor, which is obviously connected with the word tamar, "palm tree." Josephus calls it Ταδάμορα (Ant. 8:154). Its modern name is Tadmura.
Tadmor was situated on the crossroads between Syria-Canaan and Mesopotamia, on the one hand, and between these areas and Arabia on the other. Its resulting importance goes back to the Old Babylonian period. Without doubt the rich trade between the "West" and Mesopotamia, well known from the *Mari documents and other sources, flowed through Tadmor.
In periods of "law and order" during the Old and Middle Babylonian periods, Tadmor served as a well-protected central station for commercial caravans, diplomatic envoys, and royal tours, and as a crossroads for cultural influences. Because it was situated in the desert and steppe land, Tadmor was subject to sudden attacks of Western Semitic desert nomads, such as the Sutaeans, or movements of Western Semitic tribes (as can be deduced from the Mari archives and also, indirectly, from Hittite-Babylonian correspondence). During the Aramaic invasion at the end of the second millennium, Tadmor, being the key point of connection between east and west and north and south, was one of the chief sites of clashes between King Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria and the nomadic Aḥlamû-Arameans: "On the territory which extends from the feet of the Lebanon mountain to the city of Tadmar (!) of the land of Amurru, [to] the [city of] Anat [on the Euphrates] of the land of Suḥi, and to the city of Rapiqu [on the Euphrates] of the land of Karduniaš [= Babylon] I defeated them decisively" (Annals, lines 31ff.; Weidner, in bibl.).
From this inscription it can be learned that Tadmor belonged to Amurru, which here means not simply the "West" but is connected in some way to the (by then dissolved) state of Amurru, founded by the dynasty of Abdasrita in the 14th century (see *El-Amarna Tablets and *Amorites). This territory was inherited by the Arameans.
The place of Tadmor in the history of pre-Exilic Israel is a direct continuation of the situation described above. I Kings 9:18 reads: "King Solomon rebuilt [fortified and reorganized]… Tamar [ kere Tadmor; cf. below] in the desert [ midbar ] in the land" (see below). In II Chronicles 8:3–4 "Solomon went [in a military-political campaign] to Hamath-Zobah and took it, and he built [see above] Tadmor in the desert and all the store-cities which he built in Hamath." Even if one considers Tamar of I Kings as one of the fortification enterprises of Solomon in the south, in the Judean Desert on the Arabah route (that passed through Tamar, Ein Hasab, and Hasebah), it seems that from the point of view of defense and control it is part of the same plan as that reflected in the II Chronicles passage. The northern enterprise in Syria was at first a political move but later was motivated by economic considerations. The difficulty in the mention of friendly Hamath-Zobah (LXX, Beth Zobah) can be overcome by supposing that Solomon took control over this city as a countermeasure against the renewed independence of Aram-Damascus (I Kings 11:23–25). Tadmor, as a center of routes in every direction including Arabia and Palestine, was all important for Solomon to hold, in order to maintain at least commercial control over the west up to the Euphrates. By holding and rebuilding Tadmor, he assumed control of the flow of commerce for some time, thus giving a new turn to the economic development of the whole "west" that persisted even after his period. Tadmor was no less important to Solomon than it had been to Tiglath-Pileser I; in fact it was even more so because it was a key point in his north-south control plan.
BIBLICAL: E.F. Weidner, in: AFO, 18 (1957–58), 343–4; J.R. Kupper, Les nomads en Mésopotamie (1958), 47, no. 2, 89; Bright, Hist, 192, 193; A. Malamat (ed.), in: Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1962), 31–33; A.L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia (1964), 60–61, 167, 392; Du Mesnil du Buisson, in: Bibliotheca Orientalis, 24 (1967), 20ff.; H. Klengel, Geschichte Syriens, 2 (1969), S.V. Palmyra. POST-BIBLICAL: C. Moss, in: PEFQS (1928), 100–7; G.A. Cooke, A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions … (1903), 263–340; J.G. Février, La religion des Palmyréniens (1931); idem, Essai sur l'histoire politique et économique de Palmyre (1931); H.P. Chajes, in: RI (1904), 171–80; M.A. Levy, in: ZDMG, 18 (1864), 65–117; A. Champdor, Palmyre (Fr., 1934); L. Berger, in: Memoires de la Société le Linguistique, 7 (1892), 65–72; Buechler, in: Festschrift Adolf Schwarz (1917), 150ff.; Pauly-Wissowa, 36, pt. 2 (1949), 262–770; J. Starcky, Palmyre (Fr., 1952). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Bounni, "Palmyra," in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, vol. 4 (1997), 238–44.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.