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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: מות

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Dictionary/m/m-w-ta.html

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

מת  מות

The words מת (mat) and מות (mut) are officially not related, but their usages seem to overlap somewhat and certain grammatical constructions make their forms blend somewhat, so that sometimes it's not entirely sure which word we're looking at. It's likely that the writers of the Bible used this unofficial similarity to drive home their various points, or illustrate them poetically:


מת

The word מת (mat) is one of a few words for man. Mat specifically denotes a male capable of combat (see the name Methushael).

Other words meaning man are:

  • אדם (adam), meaning man or mankind as corporeal being (see the name Adam).
  • גבר (geber), denoting a man in his strength (like dude or guy — see the name Gabriel).
  • אנוש (enosh), denoting a man in his frailty or mortality (see the name Enosh).
  • איש ('ish), denoting a man in a specific function, like husband, or man of. . . something (see the name Ishi).

מות

The root-verb מות (mut), means to die or to kill, and is quite ubiquitous in Scriptures. The Canaanites used this word as a name for their god of death and the underworld: Mot, and Mot was the nemesis of Baal, the god of fertility and life. Since in Canaanite theology, death is as much a part of life as life is, Baal got into serious trouble with El, the supreme god.

In Hebrew thought, death is the consequence of sin and on a par with disease and poverty, so Mot never gained much popularity. The Baal cult, on the other hand, became quite a hit in Israel. When folks began to refer to Yahweh as El, and the new El also seemed to battle Baal, the confusion was complete, and it took some bloody battles to straighten the people out.

The derivatives of the root-verb מות (mut) are:

  • The masculine noun מות (mawet), meaning death or the realm of death. This very common word shows up all over the Bible, as opposite of life (Deuteronomy 30:15), as death by violence (Deuteronomy 19:6) and as the state or even the place of death (Isaiah 28:15, Psalm 6:5).
  • The masculine noun ממות (mamot), also meaning death (Jeremiah 16:4, Ezekiel 28:8)
  • The feminine noun תמותה (temuta), also meaning death (Psalm 79:11, Psalm 102:21).

Associated Biblical names