...as Abraham would have done his seed.

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Agito a42

Senior Member
Source: The VVitch - A New-England Folktale (2015), movie.
The movie is set around the year 1630 in New England and it's full of expressions in archaic Modern English.
A father is going to elicit the truth from his son (Jonas).

Father: Fetch the billhook, Wife, and I will smite Jonas as Abraham would have done his seed.
Mother: No, stop it! Stop it!
Father: Fetch the billhook and I will dash his skull!


I'm not sure what the meaning of the part in bold is. To do his seed = to smite his offspring? To smite = to strike/hit hard, or to kill/slay? His offspring (or his seed) = Isaac, or Isaac + Abraham's other sons?
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    it's full of expressions in archaic Modern English.
    Perhaps "full of expressions a scriptwriter thinks might sound like archaic Modern English". :)
    It is intended to mean what you think, as boozer said, but whether anybody would have actually said this in the 17th century is pretty doubtful. Abraham is known for his reluctant willingness to sacrifice his favourite son at God's order (but spared from doing so), not for intra-familial violence.
     

    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Andygc, boozer. I want to clarify a few moments.
    1) I will smite Jonas as Abraham would have done his seed. It still unclear to me, is this a contrived structure? I mean, can I say something like "I'll bring up my sons as Ellen did me"?
    2) I wonder if "...as Abraham would have done his seed" = "...as Abraham would have done his seed if he'd had/forced to"?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    -- I will smite Jonas as Abraham would have done his seed.

    -- I will kill Jonas as Abraham would have killed Isaac [his seed, i.e. his son] (had God not stopped him at the last moment).

    He is only talking about that one specific son when he says "seed" because God did not command Abraham to kill his other offspring.

    -- I'll bring up my sons as Ellen did me.:tick:

    -- I will raise my sons in the manner that [with the same values as] Ellen used when raising me.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Do is what is called a pro-verb. It stands for another verb. As others have said, it will stand for smite in the sentence referred to.
     
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