This week’s traditional synagogue scriptural reading includes the narrative in Genesis 30:14-16, where Leah and Rachel bargain over “duda’im”, translated as “mandrakes”. “Duda’im” is from the Hebrew word root that includes the idea of love. Many scholars translated duda’im as “love plant”, an aphrodisiac or fertility drug.
After admittedly cursory searching, I can’t seem to find a convincing etymology for “mandrake”. The folk etymologies and traditions are, however, fascinating.
Can anyone help on this word?