[b-hebrew] Mowledeth

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Nov 1 10:09:16 EDT 2007

One of the most controversial words in the Patriarchal  narratives is MWLDT 
("mowledeth").  Whether the Patriarchal narratives assert that the Hebrews were 
 indigenous to Ur, or indigenous to Harran, or indigenous to both Ur and 
Harran,  or whether the Patriarchal narratives in fact make no such assertions at 
all,  turns in large part on the interpretation of the word MWLDT  
We are starting, though, with the two non-controversial  uses of the word 
MWLDT ("mowledeth") in the Patriarchal narratives, when MWLDT  is not paired with 
the word for "land".  In this post, we will look at the meaning of the word 
MWLDT ("mowledeth")  in Genesis 48: 6. 
(1)  Karl W. Randolph has  stated that "Strictly speaking, it [MWLDT] refers 
to where one is born.  In a less strict manner, it refers to  where one is 
from."  That view is  referred to in this post as being that MWLDT means "the 
geographical place of  one's birth". 
(2)  Pere Porta has stated that "its  literal meaning is '(female) who causes 
to bring forth'.  …MWLDT must rather point out to  ancestors than to 
(3)  My previous post showed, however, that  at Genesis 43: 7, MWLDT does not 
mean "the geographical place of one's birth",  and does not mean "a female 
ancestor who causes to bring forth", but rather  means "father's descendants".  
Genesis 43: 7 is referring to the  fact that a disguised Joseph had asked 
Judah about Judah's MWLDT ("mowledeth"), that is,  Judah's father's descendants, 
because Joseph wanted to find out if Joseph has a  full-brother (Benjamin) who 
is alive and well.  Joseph would not be asking about where  Judah was born or 
where Judah is from, because Joseph knew all that information  and had no 
interest in it.  Joseph's  only interest at Genesis 43: 7 was finding out the 
exact status of each and  every one of his father's sons, by all four of his 
father's wives:  Joseph's older half-brothers'  MWLDT/"father's descendants".  
Joseph was interested in one particular member of his brothers'  MWLDT/"father's 
descendants":  Benjamin, who is Joseph's only full-brother.    
GENESIS 48: 6 
When we look at Genesis 48: 6, we find that the same  analysis applies as at 
Genesis 43: 7.  In Genesis 48: 6, Jacob/"Israel" is speaking to his son 
Joseph, after  Jacob has apparently adopted Joseph's two  sons: 
"'And thy MWLDT ["issue"], that thou begettest after  them, shall be thine;  
they shall be  called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.'" 
 Genesis 48: 6 (per  JPS1917) 
Here the JPS1917 translates MWLDT as  "issue". 
1.  MWLDT  here cannot mean "the geographical place of one's birth", nor can 
it have any  other reference to a geographical locale (where one lives, where 
one's relatives  live, etc.). 
2.  MWLDT  here is clearly referring to human beings, not to a geographical  
3.  Note that  Joseph's younger sons, were Joseph to sire any more sons after 
having sired two  sons already, would of course be descendants of Joseph's 
father, Jacob.  Jacob is here referring to all his male  offspring, including 
grandsons.  So  "father's descendants" works perfectly here, once one catches on 
to Jacob's  meaning. 
"And they [father's descendants], that thou begettest  after them, shall be 
thine;  they  shall be called after the name of their brethren in their  
4.  MWLDT  here cannot possibly be referring to female ancestors or to any  
5.  Thus as  with Genesis 43: 7, MWLDT here means "father's descendants", and 
does not mean  "the geographical place of one's birth", nor does it mean  
6.  As we are  beginning to see, in the Patriarchal narratives the core 
meaning of MWLDT is  "father's descendants". 
7.  As we  will see later, when MWLDT ("mowledeth") is paired with the word 
for "land" in  the Patriarchal narratives, then out of context, it is sometimes 
not clear  whether MWLDT ("mowledeth") is referring to "father's descendants" 
or to "the  geographical place of one's birth".  But it is important to note 
the following two facts.  MWLDT can always be translated as  "father's 
descendants" in all nine cases in which that word is used in the  Patriarchal 
narratives.  By sharp  contrast, a translation of "the geographical place of one's 
birth" often cannot  possibly be the meaning of MWLDT in the Patriarchal 
narratives.  That is  certainly the case at both Genesis 43: 7 and Genesis 48:  6. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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