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Meaning and etymology of the name Moab

Moab Moab / Moab

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.

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 ma (me), what or mi (mi), who, plus the word ab (ab), father. 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 may (may), meaning water. The difficulty with this solution is that this singular word does not occur in Scriptures. In the Bible water is only known in the plural form: mayim (mayim), meaning waters. 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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