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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names

Methuselah

By Jeff A. Benner

This name is pronounced meh-tu-sheh-lahh (the "hh" is pronounced hard like the "ch" in the name "Bach") in Hebrew. This name is a combination of two words - metu and shelahh. Strong's dictionary states that this name means "man of the dart". According to Strong, the root for metu is the word mat (#4962) which means "man" and the word shelach (#7973) means a weapon or missile (hence the translation of dart).

But, there is another possible meaning for this name. The word metu may be derived from the word mot meaning death and the "u" is a suffix that means "their" - "their death". There is no way to know for certain if the final vowel in metu was an "o" or an "u" as the vowel pointings that make that distinction are of fairly recent origin. If it was originally an "o" then the suffix would change to "his" - "his death".

The word shelach (missile or weapon) is the noun form of the verb shalach meaning "to send" (a missile or weapon that is sent). Shelach has the more literal meaning of "to send something".

We know have the possible meaning of "their death sends" or "his death sends". Sounds like an incomplete sentence doesn't it? Well, it is interesting to note that the year Methuselah died, something very big was sent - the flood. Methuselah's name may be a prophecy that on the day of his death "his death will send" the flood.




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