The word thus rendered in the A.V. at Ex 1:16 (אָבנִיַם, obnayim) is the dual of אֹבֶן, oben, usually thought to be equivalent to אֶבֶּן, eben, a stone, and in this form only occurs there and in Jer 18:3. In the latter passage it undeniably means a potter's wheel, SEE POTTER; but what it denotes in the former, or how to reconcile with the use of the word in the latter text any interpretation which can be assigned to it in the former, is a question which (see Rosenmüller, ad 1oc.) has mightily exercised the ingenuity and patience of critics and philologers. The meaning appears to have been doubtful even of old, and the ancient versions are much at variance. The Sept. evades the difficulty by the general expression ὅταν ωσι πρὸς τῷ τίκτειν, "when they are about to be delivered," and is followed by the Vulg., "Et partus tempus advenerit;" but our version is more definite, and has "and see them upon the stools." This goes upon the notion that the word denotes a particular kind of open stool or chair constructed for the purpose of delivering pregnant women. The usages of the East do not, however, acquaint us with any such utensil the employment of which, indeed, is not in accordance with the simple manners of ancient times. Others, therefore, suppose the word to denote stone or other bathing troughs, in which it was usual to lave new-born infants. This conjecture is so far probable that the midwife, if inclined to obey the royal mandate, could then destroy the child without check or observation. Accordingly, this interpretation is preferred by Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v. אבן), quoting in illustration Thevenot (Itin. 2, 98), who states "that the kings of Persia are so afraid of being deprived of that power which they abuse, and are so apprehensive of being dethroned, that they cause the male Children of their female relations to be destroyed in the stone bathing troughs in which newly born children are laaved." The question, however, is not as to the existence of the custom, but its application to the case in view. Prof. Lee treats the preceding opinions with little ceremony, and decides nearly in accordance with the Sept. and other ancient versions, none of which, as he remarks, say anything about washpots, stools, or the like. He then gives reasons for understanding the command of Pharaoh thus: "Observe, look carefully on the two occasions (i.e. in which either a male or female child is born). If it be a son, then," etc. — Kitto. Still others (as Knobel, Muhlau, etc.) prefer the explanation of Ibn-Gaanach, Jos. Kimchi, and Parchon, that the word signifies the uterus (from בָּנָה) or the female pudenda (from the resemblance of the parts to the generative power of the potter's wheel), i.e. when ye observe the obnayim of the Hebrew women," at the moment of parturition. But this interpretation seems even more strained than the preceding ones. As the sex could only be discovered by inspecting the child itself, the word probably refers to this directly, either in the sense of testiculi, or from the radical import of אָבִן, which is to separate, i.e. distinguish (see Meier, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1842, p. 1050). See the Magaz. fur bib. Lit. 1, 28; Stud. u. Krit. 1834, 1, 81, 626; Kraft, De Pietate Obstetricum (Jen. 1744). SEE MIDWIFE.

Bible concordance for STOOL.

Definition of stool

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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