Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Hebrew verb מות (mōt, pronounced MOHT) is a Biblical Hebrew word meaning "to die." The noun מות (mawet, pronounced MA-wet) of the same spelling means "death." The word is related to the name of the Canaanite god of death, Mōt, who was worshipped in ancient Ugarit and Phoenicia. While the deity Mōt is known from ancient texts discovered at Ugarit, the deity may also be mentioned in the Bible. Habakkuk 2:5 reads, "They open their throats wide as Sheol; like Death (מָּוֶת) they never have enough." Job 18:13 reads, "The firstborn of Death (מָּוֶת) consumes their limbs." Likewise, Hosea 13:14 and Jeremiah 9:21 (HB 9:20) appear to speak of Death in personified or deified terms.

For the most part, however, the Bible uses מות (mōt) to mean "death" and "to die", as in the famous story in Genesis 2:17 of the Tree of Knowledge, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (מות תמות),” and the story of the Great Flood in Genesis 7:22: "Everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died (מות)."