[b-hebrew] Mowledeth

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Oct 31 09:12:45 EDT 2007

Pere  Porta: 
You wrote:  "MWLDT is the Hiph'il Participle,  singular feminine of verb YLD, 
to bring forth.  Thus its literal meaning is "(female)  who causes to bring 
forth", the same 
as "MWRDT" means "(female) who causes  to go down" (of YRD).  …
>From my  answer above it is clear that MWLDT must rather point out to 
ancestors than  to descendants." 
The three answers I have gotten as to what  the meaning of MWLDT is are 
confusing.  Let's look at a specific verse of text, which may shed light on this  
matter.  Jacob's older sons, whose  mother is Leah, have returned from Egypt, 
where they bought food from a high  Egyptian official who is their younger 
half-brother, Joseph, in disguise.   (Joseph's mother is Rachel.)  Jacob's older 
sons are reporting to their father Jacob the strange series  of questions that 
this Egyptian official had asked  them: 
"And they said:  'The man asked straitly concerning  ourselves, and 
concerning our MWLDT, saying:  Is your father yet alive?  have ye another brother?  and 
we told him according to the tenor of  these words;  could we in any wise  
know that he would say:  Bring your  brother down?'"  Genesis 43: 7  (JPS1917) 
(It is clear in context here that "brother" includes both  a full-brother and 
a half-brother.) 
1.  On your  view, if I am understanding you correctly, in asking about his 
older  half-brothers' MWLDT, Joseph had asked about the mother of Jacob's older 
 sons.  That is impossible.  Joseph has no interest in Leah, the  mother of 
his older half-brothers.  Leah is not Joseph's mother, and Leah is not the 
mother of the one person  Jacob is most concerned about at this point:  Joseph's 
only full-brother,  Benjamin. 
2.  If I  understand Karl W. Randolph correctly (which perhaps is doubtful), 
Joseph is  asking about the place of Jacob's older sons' birth.  That also 
makes no sense.  Joseph knows they were born in  Harran.  Joseph has no interest 
in  Harran whatsoever.  No, Joseph is  only interested in whether he has one 
full-brother, Benjamin, who is alive and  well.  Joseph knows that Benjamin  
was born in Canaan, whereas Joseph's older half-brothers were born in  Harran.  
Joseph is not asking about  conditions in Harran or in Canaan, or where is 
older half-brothers are  from.  Joseph has no interest in any  such matters.  
Rather, Joseph is  only interested in finding out if the father of his older 
half-brothers has a  son by another wife, who would be Joseph's only full-brother, 
3.  On my  view, everything makes perfect sense.  MWLDT means "father's 
descendants".  Joseph is asking his older half-brothers about their "father's  
descendants".  Thus Joseph is  indirectly, but pointedly, asking his older 
half-brothers if they have a younger  half-brother (Benjamin) by the same father who 
is alive and well, and who would  be Joseph's only full-brother. 
It is perhaps relevant that JPS1917 translates MWLDT here  as "kindred", 
which is very close to my meaning of "father's descendants".  "Kindred" has 
nothing to do with either  female ancestors or the geographical place of one's  
I recognize now that I erred in viewing the mem at the  beginning of MWLDT as 
meaning "from".  Based on what I have now learned, here is my new way of 
understanding  MWLDT. 
MWLDT/"mowledeth" literally means "the place from where  one was brought 
forth".  As such, it  can have the following two meanings.  It can mean "one's 
father's descendants", with all such persons having  been "brought forth" by the 
father (either directly, as the father's sons, or  indirectly, as the 
descendants of the father's sons), from one or more  females.  The female aspect of 
the  word has to do with the fact that each child is born of a woman, yet the 
word is  referring to all persons brought forth by the father by all women.  
(That includes all of the father's  wives, and all of the father's 
daughters-in-law.)  In that meaning, the focus is on the  person's siblings, and has nothing 
whatsoever to do with geography.   
Alternatively, MWLDT/"mowledeth" could mean "the geographical place where  
one was born", since that geographical locale is where one was "brought forth"  
(by a female). 
Several times in the Bible, only the meaning of "father's descendants"  would 
seem to make sense, not any reference to a geographical locale of a  person's 
birth.  Leviticus 18: 9, 11  is referring to being born of one's father.  
Genesis 43: 7 and Genesis 48: 6 also  seem to be referring to people, one's 
father's descendants, and not a  geographical locale. 
MWLDT/"mowledeth" never means ancestors.  The root YLD is referring to what 
comes  forth from an ancestor, namely "descendants", not to one's ancestors  
I myself see the primary meaning of MWLDT/"mowledeth", especially in the  
Patriarchal narratives, as being "the persons who have been brought forth, by  
various women, from one's father", i.e. one's "father's descendants".  The 
accent is on one's living brothers  (including half-brothers, if they have the same 
father), but MWLDT also includes  all the descendants of one's father.  The 
closest single word equivalent to that in English is "kindred", in  its 
narrowest meaning. 
At Genesis 43: 7, Joseph desperately wanted to know about Judah's MWLDT,  
that is, Judah's father's descendants, with the accent being on Judah's  
brothers, including both full-brothers and half-brothers (by the same  father).  By 
pressing Judah to give  a full account of Judah's full-brothers and 
half-brothers (all sons of the same  father), Joseph quickly found out the one and only 
thing that Joseph really  wanted to know:  Joseph has a  full-brother, Benjamin, 
who is alive and well. 
Rather than being an "aberration", Genesis 43: 7 in my view reflects  the 
core original meaning of MWLDT/"mowledeth", namely "father's  descendants". 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list