The Gemara Bava Kamma (113b) states that the term ומצאתה implies physical acquisition (rather than mere finding as the word would seem to imply):

אמר רבינא {דברים כב-ג} ומצאתה דאתאי לידיה משמע

The Gemara Bava Metzia (2a) implies that this is an internal implication in the word:

ומי מצית אמרת מאי מצאתיה ראיתיה והא אמר רבנאי {דברים כב-ג} ומצאתה דאתאי לידיה משמע אין ומצאתה דקרא דאתא לידיה משמע

My question is that this doesn't seem to reflect Biblical usage. For example, Genesis (16:7) states:

וַיִּמְצָאָהּ מַלְאַךְ ה' עַל עֵין הַמַּיִם

"And the angel of God found her by the spring of water."

It seems quite unlikely that the angel grabbed her, in spite of the identical verb root מצא. (Cf. Genesis 18:26).

Looking for sourced answers only.

  • Why can't a word have multiple meanings? – DanF Aug 18 '15 at 21:15
  • @DanF The Gemara implies that the word itself carries the connotation. If the word could have multiple connotations, then only context would be appropriate to determine its meaning in a given case. Furthermore, the Gemara BM asks how anyone could ever think that the word מצא implies mere visual acquisition, given the interpretation of Deuteronomy 23. Evidently, the Gemara does not consider the possibility of multiple meanings. – mevaqesh Aug 18 '15 at 21:19
  • @mevaqesh, your question would be improved by clarifying with an edit along the lines of your comment. But +1 (it's pretty clear as is). – msh210 Aug 18 '15 at 21:28
  • The posuk in mishlai I do not think it means only to find it probably means to acquire, so maybe it (the root) has a few meanings (I heard an idea lashon hakodesh has 22 letters and roots of words are made of not more then 3 letters so one root has a few meanings) (משלי יח, כב): " מָצָא אִשָּׁה מָצָא טוֹב" – hazoriz Aug 18 '15 at 22:10

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