🔼The name Mahli in the Bible
There are two, closely related men named Mahli in the Bible:
- The first Mahli is the brother of Mushi and they are the two sons of Merari, who is a son of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob and tribal patriarch of Israel (Exodus 6:19). This Mahli is also the patriarch of the Levitical sub-caste of the מחלי, the Mahlites (Numbers 3:33) — in Hebrew the word Mahlite is spelled identical to the name Mahli — and this organizational structure was still in tact after the return from the exile (Ezra 8:18).
- The second Mahli is a son of Mushi, the other son of Merari (1 Chronicles 6:47).
🔼Etymology of the name Mahli
The name Mahli comes from the root-verb חלה (hala) meaning to be weak or sick:
Our name Mahli is probably a commemorative name, designed to remember a period of illness or (national?) weakness. Perhaps in its intent it also reflects on the name Enosh.
For a meaning of the name Mahli, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Weak, Silly. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes the more formal Infirmity. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name and also doesn't list it under the verb חלה (hala), but rather under the מ.