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Etymology of MoichosPerhaps the most important thing regarding the true meaning of the Greek word moichos and related words is the etymology or origin of the word. Most lexicons say that these words are from an unknown root; the truth is, however, that there are at least three etymologies that have been proposed for the Greek word moichos, two of which can be discounted for linguistic reasons and one which can be logically established as accurate. We will look first at the two erroneous etymologies.
The first etymology that has been postulated states that moichos is derived from me+oikos. me is the Greek negative particle and oikos means house, thus giving the idea of no house, or that the house is destroyed. This is a very tenuous etymology at best, derived by some just for the sake of deriving an etymology. While in English it may sound reasonable to derive moichos from me+oikos, in Greek it is very unlikely that the Greek word moichos and all of the forms associated with it could have developed from this rather far-fetched combination. You cannot develop etymologies or relationships between words solely from how words sound. There must be some substantive proof or some definite, traceable link. This etymology was not one suggested from any ancient evidence, but rather an etymology invented by lexicographers just to fill the void of not having an etymology.
The second etymology, with an equal number of problems, though perhaps slightly more plausible, holds that moichos is derived from the verb oichomai which means to go off or away or as Symson says in his Lexicon, "to go into a strange land," implying to go after strange flesh. This origin implies also a primary connotation of deviating from the norm. The biggest question, however, with this suggested etymology is also the most obvious: where did the m- on the front of the word come from? There are no inflected forms of the word or dialectical variances to give rise to such a change and no explanation has been put forth by any who suggest this etymology.
This brings us to the third and only reasonable explanation. Not only is this third etymology plausible, but it finds independent verification in the ancient usage of the word moichos and is also suggested by more than one respected authority. This theory, by James Donnegan in his work A New Greek and English Lexicon, among others, states that the word moichos is derived from the same Sanskrit origin as the Greek verb migo, which is the same as the Greek verb meignumi which means "to mix" (LSJ). Looking at these words may make one who is unfamiliar with Greek inflection think that the previous two etymologies make more sense, but we need to remember two important things: first, the word moichos is not derived from meignumi, rather these two very ancient Greek words developed at the same time and share a common Sanskrit origin; secondly, when meignumi is inflected in its various forms, some of the inflected forms share more in common with moichos than the previous two etymologies suggested: e.g. meixo, meichthenai, meixomai, etc.
But perhaps the most important piece of evidence is the Greek verb om[e]icheo and its associated forms: meicho and micho. This is the Greek verb which means "to urinate," and this is very important for two reasons. First, most scholars agree that this verb is from the
same Sanskrit origin as meignumi, which is mih or miz and which means to pour. From this comes the Sanskrit miks, which means to mix, and the idea was that pouring things together resulted in mixing. Also from this was the Sanskrit mehas, which meant to urinate or make water. This entire etymology is in fact well documented.
The second reason that all of this is important is because moichos is directly related to omeicho, according to James Donnegan (A New Greek and English Lexicon, 1856), Franz Passow (Handwörterbuch der Griechischen Sprache, 1828), Sigmund Feist (Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der Gotischen Sprache, 1939), Georg Curtius (Grundzüge der Griechischen Etymologie, 1879), Liddell-Scott Jones (A Greek-English Lexicon, 1940), Hjalmar Frisk (Griechisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1973), and others. In fact, according to Frisk, the word moichos may have been used vulgarly for a person who urinates. This was not of course a formal definition of moichos, but the fact that the word may have been used this way strengthens the connection between moichos and the various forms of omeicho.
In any event, if 'a' is equal to 'b', and 'b' is equal to 'c', then 'a' must be equal to 'c'. What this means is that just as the Sanskrit verb for to pour gave rise to two words meaning to mix and to urinate, so too developed out of those words the Greek verb for to adulterate or mix or mingle seedlines. This etymological derivation is further confirmed by an analysis of the Latin language, which, like Greek, developed from Sanskrit, and these various etymologies have given rise to our English words mix and micturate, which means to urinate. A detailed orthographic study of each stage of development of this linguistic evolution is very tedious and far beyond the scope of this present work, but it needs only be said that this etymology, more than all of the rest, is plausible and realistic. The following chart will help to clarify this development in laymen's terms as much as possible and also serve as a guide for more in-depth study.
Other Greek Evidence
We stated earlier that in A Large Dictionary by Thomas Holyoke, Holyoke notes that the Greek word moichikos is synonymous with kibdelos. kibdelos is defined by LSJ as: "adulterated, spurious, base-born, bastard." As we have already illustrated, the word bastard is here being used synonymously with mongrel. This word is used in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 22:11 (cf. Lev. 19:19), which reads in Brenton's translation of the Septuagint:
"Thou shalt not wear a mingled garment, woollen and linen together."
Here, kibdelos is translated mingled. This of course is especially important because according to Holyoke, this word is synonymous with moichikos.
Identifying Greek words that are synonymous with one another, as in this case, is usually done by noting in Greek literature where the two words are interchanged with one another in the same piece of literature. Documents of course were preserved by being hand- copied. Often, the scribes who copied the documents would change certain words that they felt were obsolete and regionalized with another synonymous word that was perhaps better known at that time or place. This is done today with copies of English literature like Shakespeare, which is constantly updated and revised for modern English-speaking audiences, oftentimes without the reader even being aware of where a change has been made by an editor. Such is the case with a pertinent example in Josephus, The Jewish Antiquities 4:24, where the Naber manuscript of Josephus uses the verb moicheusas and the Havercamp edition uses the verb notheusas in its place. Whatever ancient editor made this substitution understood these two words to be synonymous. We will discuss notheusas, a form of notheuo, later in this present work; however, what needs to be noted here is that this verb means "to mongrelize." As we will see later in our discussion of this word, this fact is well-attested. The noun form, for example, nothos, is defined by LSJ as: "cross-bred." This word is the opposite of the word gnesios which we discussed earlier. So this verb would mean to cross-breed, and the two verbs under discussion were understood to be synonymous. This passage in Josephus reads in English:
"But in the age of marriage, marry a free virgin, good in race, but do not intend to take one not a virgin who is living and yoking with another and mongrelizing."
Here mongrelizing is the word in question, translated either for moicheusas or notheusas. In either case, the translation is the same.