Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun μωλος (molos) describes the toil or struggle of war, or the "grind of battle" in the graceful words of Peter Green's translation of the Iliad (2.401). It's not clear where this word may come from, but in Latin there is the noun moles, meaning heap (hence our English word demolish, which is hence the equivalent of decompile), which was also used to describe a certain war machine, a heaped up fortification or a mass of soldiers. A joint Proto-Indo-European origin of these words has been proposed, but if it existed, it isn't broadly attested in extant European languages.
Here at Abarim Publications we suspect that our words aren't Indo-European at all but rather Semitic, and derivatives of the vast מלל (malal) root, perhaps via מלל II (malal 2), to grind or scrape, or אמל ('amal), to languish (Isaiah 24:4, Hosea 4:3, Joel 1:10), or מלא (male'), to be full or be a heap (of stones or fruits or people). This latter verb occurs over 250 times in the Old Testament, and indeed on occasion describes being outfitted for war (2 Samuel 23:7, Jeremiah 51:11).
But whatever the pedigree, our noun μωλος (molos) is not used in the New Testament. From it, however, comes:
- The adverb μολις (molis), meaning barely or only just. In the classics (albeit not in the New Testament), this word is used interchangeably with μογις (mogis), meaning with toil and pain (see μογιλαλος, mogilalos, speech-impeded), which in turn suggests that our parent noun μωλος (molos) may indeed stem from the sentiment expressed by אמל ('amal), to languish. Our adverb μολις (molis) is used 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
The noun μωλωψ (molops) means stripe or battle scar. This noun occurs in 1 Peter 2:24 only, which appears to refer to Isaiah 53:5, which in the Greek version of the Septuagint indeed uses our word μωλωψ (molops), as translation of the noun חברה (habra), stripe.
It's not quite clear where our noun comes from, although it obviously looks like a combination of the nouns μωλος (molos), battle grind (see above), and ωψ (ops), eye or face. But despite all this, experts suspect that our word is rather like κυκλωψ (kuklops), which looks like a combination of κυκλος (kuklos), circle, and ωψ (ops), eye, and hence would mean round-eye (and not one-eye!), but in fact has been found to stem from the verb κλεπτω (klepto), to steal, plus a lost word for cattle: it means cattle thief.
An alternative origin of μωλωψ (molops) has not yet been agreed upon, but it should be noted that our noun was either very rare or non-existent until it appeared in the Septuagint, and may very well have been coined by its authors. Here at Abarim Publications we don't know either, but if we were to guess, we would guess: מ (me) + ל (le) + פסס (pasas): place for the spreading of skin marks.