Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb לוט (lut) means to wrap closely or to envelop. This verb occurs just a few times. Sometimes it simply denotes the wrapping of an object — the sword of Goliath, whose name, strikingly, comes from a verb meaning to uncover (1 Samuel 21:9). Sometimes it serves to indicate gloom or suppression (Isaiah 25:7).
The verb לוט (lut) yields two derivatives:
- The masculine noun לט (lat), also spelled לאט (la't), means secrecy (1 Samuel 18:22, Judges 4:21).
- The masculine noun לוט (lot) means covering. Besides as the name Lot, this noun occurs only in Isaiah 25:7-8.
The verb מלט (malat) describes the removal of an internal thing from a larger confining thing, and that usually through a small hole or other opening. Our verb may describe the laying of an egg (Isaiah 34:15) or the birthing of a child (Isaiah 66:7). But it may also describe how someone removes himself from a formal function or engagement via a concocted excuse (1 Samuel 20:29), or from a predicament through the perforated ranks of an enclosing enemy army (Judges 3:29, 1 Kings 18:40, Jeremiah 46:6).
Our verb often describes an extraction, or a removal from a confining predicament through the efforts of an external savior, in which it is implied that the savior somehow reach in, grabbed the target and pulled him out (Proverbs 11:21, Ecclesiastes 9:15, Daniel 12:1, Ezekiel 33:5). Obviously, the subject of this verb is frequently the Lord (Job 22:30, Psalm 22:5).
The curious masculine noun מלט (melet) is of unclear etymology, but the unclearness is largely due to its only appearance in the Bible. In Jeremiah 43:9, YHWH instructs the prophet to hide some great (גדל, gadal) stones (אבן, 'eben) in the מלט (melet) of the brickwork (מלבן, malben) by the entrance of Pharaoh's house (בית, bayit). This one and only occurrence of our noun מלט (melet) is commonly translated as "mortar" on the grounds that a similar word in cognate languages means just that.
Here at Abarim Publications we doubt that Jeremiah was told to hide stones in mortar, since the mortar would have had to be fresh and not yet congealed. Instead we surmise that our word מלט (melet) denotes a drain, loophole or other such evacuative opening in the balustrade surrounding the outer court of Pharaoh's house (or temple).