Moab meaning | Moab etymology

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Moab in Biblical Hebrew
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The name Moab in the Bible

Moab is the incestuous son of Lot with his oldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). Moab is the father of the Moabites. A famous Moabite is Ruth, the ancestor of Jesus. In similar fashion Lot's youngest daughter bore Ben-ammi, the father of the Ammonites.

Etymology and meaning of the name Moab

The etymology and original meaning of the name Moab is unknown. The word moab is foreign to Hebrew and, reports BDB Theological Dictionary, Moab is known in other ancient languages as Ma'aba, Ma'bu, Mu'aba, etc.

However, to a creative Hebrew audience, the name may have sounded like a compilation of two elements: the interrogative particle מה (me), what or מי (mi), who:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

The second part of the name Moab may remind of the very common word אב (ab), meaning father:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

Thus the name Moab would carry the meaning of Who's Your Daddy? or What's Your Father? a rhetorical question to which the story may easily give rise.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names takes a different approach and goes with the word מי (may), meaning water:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

Thus Jones reads Water Of A Father, and explains this to mean seed or progeny. The problem here is that semen is never referred to as a father's waters.

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