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I'm doing some genealogy research. Some of my ancestors are somewhat-known Hassidic figures. A few searches on Google yielded information in Hebrew and Yiddish that describes some of their dynasties.

What I can't figure out is the relationship between two men when someone is described as a "חתן" of someone else?

I know it's related to father-in-law and son-in-law but I can't figure out which one is which.

For example:

יעקב היה חתן מאנדל
Jacob was the Chasan of Mendel.

I think this means: Jacob was the son in law of mendel.

And:

יהודה לייב וחתנו אברהם
Judah Leib and his Chasan Abraham

I think this means: Judah Leib was the father in law of Abraham

Is my assumption correct?

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You are correct: the sentences you quote mean what you think they mean and, in general, "חתן" means "son-in-law". Be careful, though, because the similar word "חותן" means "father-in-law". Thus, "יהודה לייב וחותנו אברהם" would mean "Y.L. and his father-in-law A." although "יהודה לייב וחתנו אברהם" means "Y.L. and his son-in-law A.".

Source: My general knowledge of Hebrew; plus, Nehemiah 6:18 has "חתן" meaning "son-in-law" and Exodus 18:1 has "חותן" meaning father-in-law. (The latter is spelled defectively, so it looks like "חתן" if you ignore the vowels. However, I think you can safely assume that people wouldn't spell it that way without vowels outside of Bible quotes/paraphrases, since it's so easily confused with "son-in-law".)

A tip of my hat to Shalom for the idea of citing the Bible, for one of those citations, and for the warning about defective spelling.

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  • Genesis 19:14 : "and Lot went and spoke to his חתןs , who had married his daughters" -- "chatan" = "son-in-law." Exodus 18:1--2 : "And Jethro, the choten of Moses ... brought Moses' wife." ("Choten" = "father-in-law.") If you don't have the vowels, it could be tricky.
    – Shalom
    Nov 3 '15 at 16:57
  • by all means! And then I'll delete the comment.
    – Shalom
    Nov 3 '15 at 18:36
  • Note also that Chatan and Kallah (groom and bride) refer to son-in-law and daughter-in-law. Nov 3 '15 at 18:54

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