🔼The name Mahalath in the Bible
Mahalath is the name of two women in the Bible:
- A daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 28:9).
- A granddaughter of David, who becomes the wife of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:18).
This name is identical to a musical term found in the headings of Psalm 53 and Psalm 88.
🔼Etymology of the name Mahalath
Most scholars and commentators derive the name Mahalath from the roots חלה (hala I or II):
BDB Theological Dictionary, however, suggests relations with מחולה (mehola), dance, from the verb חול (hul I):
NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with מחלה (mahaleh) from root חלה I and reports that both the name and the musical term mean Sickness. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the same root, and casually explains that certain grammatical constructions allow a word that usually means being sick, now means to be smooth or polished. Jones then translates the name Mahalath with Harp or Wind Instrument.
Since Psalms 53 and 88 both express deep anxiety, the musical term Mahalath possibly has to do with sadness or entreaty. But it goes a bit far to translate it and the name Mahalath with sickness. In this case Sad Song would be more appropriate; Hebrew Blues.
On the other hand, the term מחלת occurs three more times in the Bible (albeit with a slightly different Masoretic punctuation), all with the meaning of Dancing: Exodus 15:20, 32:19 and Song of Solomon 6:13.