Zim'ri (Heb. Zimni', זַמַרַי, my song or celebrated; Sept. Ζαμβρί; Josephus, Ζαμάρης, Ant. 8:12, 5; Vulg. Zambri), the name of several Hebrews, and apparently one foreign tribe.
1. First named of the five sons of Zerah the son of Judah (1Ch 2:6). B.C. post 1874.
2. The son of Salu, a Simeonitish chieftain slain by Phinehas with the Midianitish princess Cozbi (Nu 25:14). B.C. 1618. When the Israelites at Shittim were smitten with plagues for their impure worship of Baal Peor, and were weeping before the tabernacle, Zimri, with a shameless disregard of his own high position and the sufferings of his tribe, brought into their presence the Midianites, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation. The fierce anger of Phinehas was aroused, and in the swift vengeance with which he pursued the offenders, he gave the first indication of that uncompromising spirit which characterized him in later life. The whole circumstance is much softened in the narrative of Josephus (Ant. 4:6, 10-12), and in the hands of the: apologist is divested of all its vigor and point. In the Targum of Jonathan ben-Uzziel several traditional details are added. Zimri retorts upon Moses that he himself had taken to wife a Midianitess, and twelve miraculous signs attend the vengeance of Phinehas. SEE PHINEHAS.
In describing the scene of this tragedy an unusual word is employed the force of which is lost in the rendering, "tent" of the A.V. of Nu 25:8. It was not the ohel or ordinary tent of the encampment, but the קָה, kupbah (whence Span. alcoba and our alcove), or dome-shaped tent to which Phinehas pursued his victims. Whether this was the tent which Zimri occupied as chief of his tribe, and which was in consequence more elaborate and highly ornamented than the rest, or whether it was, as Gesenius suggests, one of the tents which the Midianites used for the worship of Peor, is not to be determined, though the latter is favored by the rendering of the Vulg. lupanar. The word does not occur elsewhere in Hebrew. In the Syriac it is rendered a "cell," or inner apartment of the tent. See Harem.
3. The son of Azmaveth (rather Jehoadah or Jarah) and father of Moza in the lineage of king Saul (1Ch 3:24; 1Ch 9:42). B.C. cir. 945.
4. The fifth sovereign of the separate kingdom of Israel, of which he occupied the throne for the brief period of seven days in the year B.C. 926. Originally in command of half the chariots in the royal army, he gained the crown by the murder of king Elah son of Baasha, who, after reigning for something more than a year (comp. 1Ki 16:8,10), was indulging in a drunken revel in the house of his steward Arza at Tirzah, then the capital. In the midst of this festivity Zimri killed him, and immediately afterwards all the rest of Baasha's family. But the army which at that time was besieging the Philistine town of Gibbethon, when they heard of Elah's murder, proclaimed their general Omri king. He immediately marched against Tirzah and took the city. Zimri retreated into the innermost part of the late king's palace, set it on fire, and perished in the ruins (ver. 9-20). Ewald's inference from Jezebel's speech to Jehu (2Ki 9:31) that on Elah's death the queen mother welcomed his murderer with smiles and blandishments seems rather arbitrary and far-fetched. The word is אִרַמוֹן, which Ewald (after J. D. Michaelis) in both the above passages insists on translating "harem," with which word he thinks that it is etymologically connected, and hence seeks confirmation of his view that Zimri was a voluptuous slave of women. But its root seems to be אָרִם "to be high" (Gesenius); and in other passages, especially Pr 18:19, the meaning is "a lofty fortress," rather than "a harem." Ewald, in his sketch of Zimri, is perhaps somewhat led astray by the desire of finding a historical parallel with Sardanapalus. SEE ISRAEL.
5. An obscure name, mentioned (Jer 20:5,18) in probable connection with Dedan, Tema, Buz, Arabia (עֲרָב, the mingled people "ereb'" (הָעֶרֶב) all of which immediately precede it, besides other peoples, and followed by Elam, the Medes, and others. The passage is of wide comprehension, but the reference, as indicated above, seems to be to a tribe of the sons of the East, the Beni-Kedem. Nothing further is known respecting Zimri, but it may possibly be the same as, or derived from, ZIMRAN SEE ZIMRAN (q.v.).