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Julian Morgensteen 

Hebrew Union College 

In three passages of the Bible the word pDJ is used in a 
peculiar sense. I Sam. 23 : 23 reads : D\V3n0rr '730 Wl) M<1) 
:DDnK ♦n^'^m pDJ '7K ♦'7K Orat:'') DtJ' NDnnntS'N; I Sam. 
26:4 reads: p3J bii ^Mit^/ ND »D ;r-in D^'^JllO in fl'^t^'n; 
II Sam. 6:6 reads: plDJ pjl n:i^ 1K!jn. 

The expression has always occasioned difficulty, and has 
received manifold renderings. Appreciating the fact that in II 
Sam. 6:6a proper name undoubtedly stood in the original text, 
the Chronicler has substituted pO for the to him unintelligible 
POJ (I Chron. 13. 9). This is unquestionably a textual emenda- 
tion, and scarcely represents the original reading. (^^ reads 
N<oSaj8 for [ID j , while (g^'' reads 'QSd/3, and ^-^ reads Naxo>v as 
a proper name. 05^ reads 'Opva tov 'leJSvaaiov, clearly a harmon- 
istic emendation. Aquila reads ews aXmvo^ iroifjiri^, a literal trans- 
lation of [1DJ as a Niphal participle of pD . Other Hexapla 
versions read variously Naxwp and 'Axa>p. The Targum to this 
passage renders pDJ [~iJl by fpHP "IDK, literally "a prepared 
place, ' ' just as does Aquila. 

For pDJ in I Sam. 23 : 23 (g^ reads eroi/iov, while d^ omits 
the entire clause from D*N!3ri?jn '?DQ through pOJ . The Tar- 
gum renders p3J '7K by tOCJ'p p, "of a certainty," as does 
also Symmachus, em ^epaim. pDJ in I Sam. 26 : 4 d^^ renders 
eroifw^, i. e. it translates p^J literally as a Niphal participle of 
pD , regardless of the meaning of the passage, just as Targum 
and Aquila do to II Sam. 6 : 6. Apparently, feeling also the 
need of the mention of some exact location, %^^ has added 
Ik KeuXd. (B^ reads ek ScKcAay, again evidently a harmonistic 
emendation. Here also the Targum renders pDJ by tOtJ^p ID- 

Among modern commentators an even wider range of inter- 
pretation is manifest. Keil and Delitzsch (English edition, 189) 
render pDJ pj in II Sam. 6:6 " the threshing-floor of the 
stroke," deriving pDJ from HID J . Reuss (German edition, I, 
241) offers a similar interpretation. Klostermann (152) trans- 


lates, "bis zu einer bestimmten Tenne," and remarks, "ein 
Ausdruck, der von der Benennung geflissentl. absieht, indem er 
die Sache setzt; denn der Ort soil erst einen Eigennamen 
erhalten, u. es geniigt, auf die abscMssige Glatte des Tennen- 
bodens aufmerksam gemacht zu haben, um den f olgenden Vorf all 
zu begreifen." Commenting upon pDJ in II Sam. 6:6 Smith 
says (294), "evidently a proper name; the endeavor of some of 
the commentators to make it mean indefinitely, a certain thresh- 
ing-floor, is not sustained by usage, nor is Th.'s interpretation 
fixed or permanent in distinction from a temporary floor used 
only for a particular field or during one season. Whether 
Nachon is the correct name, or whether we should read p'D 
with Chr., or Na.8a/3 with (g^, cannot be determined." Budde 
(Marti, Hand Commentar, 229 and Polychrome Bible, 82) seems 
fairly content with the pO of Chr. Nowack {Handkommentar, 
173) says that the context clearly demands a proper name, and 
agrees with Budde that the p'D of Chr. is the best authenticated 
emendation that can be made. However, in his translation of 
the text he leaves a blank space for the name. Kittel (in 
Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift des A. T.,^ 323) does likewise. 
(Cf. also Driver, Notes,^ 267 and Wellhausen, T.B.8.) The 
latest interpretation of the word, and one completely at variance 
with those usually given is that of Arnold (Ephod and Ark 
(1917), 62). He says, " flDJ is of course not a proper name; 
which could serve no purpose here. Neither the author nor his 
readers would be familiar with the name of the owner of every 
threshing-floor between Kiriath-jearim and Jerusalem. Obvi- 
ously the adjective, like the substantive \iy itself, has some 
bearing on the misadventure about to be narrated. I have 
taken jIDJ to signify in this connection, firm, hard, permanent, 
that is, a threshing-floor of bare rock, as distinguished from one 
made of levelled and hardened earth. It is possible, to be sure, 
that the author intends jl^J in the alternative sense of prepared, 
that is, smoothed and swept, and made ready for the season's 
threshing. In the latter case the description would fix the season 
of the year as late in June or early in July. For the rest, the 
phrase 1^ ^Hy) seems to imply that the procession had not 
travelled very far when the accident happened. Nor was a 
threshing-floor likely to lie across the path when once the high- 
way had been gained." 


For [i:)J-'7K in I Sam. 23:23 Smith proposes (215) to read 
\^2i''7^, and interprets the expression with the Targum and 
Symmachus, " of a certainty, " i.e. the Ziphites were to return 
to Saul with information resting on a certainty. Driver {Notes/ 
189) offers the same interpretation. Budde (159) proposes the 
omission of '7ii, and the change of DMDti'l to DnDJJTtl, and 
translates ' ' and bring me positive information. ' ' Nowack ( 120 ) 
interprets the passage in the same way, although he does not 
emend the text to the same extent as does Budde. Kittel (309), 
too, interprets the passage in the same manner. Klostermann 
(103) renders pDJ"'?N "nach der Verabredung. " 

pDJ"'7K in I Sam. 26:4, Smith feels (231) must designate 
some particular place. He hesitatingly proposes to substitute 
^^^J"7^?, "to the point just in front of him." This reading 
is rejected by Budde (169) , who seems to prefer, with Wellhausen, 
the reading of (5^-^ n'?*i^pJ3 . However, he admits that this 
reading, too, is open to very serious objection. Nowack (130) 
rejects the readings of both (^-^^ and (B-^, and holds that a place 
name is clearly required, and also that Smith's suggestion, 
irT0J"'7JC, is worthy of consideration. In his translation he 
leaves a blank space for the word, as does also Kittel (312) (cf. 
also Driver, Notes,'' 205) . Klostermann (113) feels that p3r'?N 
may designate the time quite as well as the place, and so renders 
"auf eine bestimmte Zeit. " 

This great variety of interpretations shows clearly the difficul- 
ties under which the versions and commentators labored. And 
yet a simple explanation may well solve the difficulty. All 
modern commentators (with the single exception of Arnold to 
II Sam. 6:6) agree that the contexts of both I Sam. 26 : 4 and 
II Sam. 6 : 6 require a proper name for p^J. And a moment's 
consideration shows that the interpretation of piJ~'7K in I 
Sam. 23 : 23, " of a certainty, ' ' involves far-fetched, unauthen- 
ticated, and altogether unnecessary textual emendation. Vv. 24 
and 25 make it clear that after coming to a definite understand- 
ing with Saul, the Ziphites set out in advance of Saul and his 
men, to locate the hiding-place of David. Knowing the country 
well, and being unencumbered with the usual military and camp 
equipment, they can move more rapidly than Saul and his 

morgensteen: pDJ 147 

soldiers, and are therefore able to play the role of scouts and 
spies. But Saul and his men do not remain where they had been 
encamped, awaiting a report from the Ziphites. As v. 25 states 
explicitly, they, too, move on, though naturally more slowly, in 
the general direction of the district in which, it is known, David 
is in hiding. What more natural, and even necessary, therefore, 
than that, when sending the Ziphites forth, Saul should have 
agreed with them upon some definite spot in the immediate 
vicinity of David's supposed place of concealment, where they 
were to meet him, and there report to him the results of their 
search? In other words, here, too, just as in the other two pas- 
sages, pOJ probably stands for a place name, which has been 
lost. Saul says to the Ziphites, "Observe and take note of all 
the hiding-places where he conceals himself, then return to me 

at , and I will go with you, etc. ' '^ 

This being the case, the only satisfactory explanation of the 
word must be one which will account for jts use in all three 
passages. An explanation lies ready to hand, so simple and 
natural that it is surprising that it has not occurred to commen- 
tators before this. Sebastian Schmid^ seems to have been on the 
right track when he translated pDJ"'?J< of I Sam. 26 : 4 ad 
cerium (locum). Klostermann, too, has rendered p^J j"1j| of 
II Sam. 6:6 "a certain threshing-floor. " It is beyond question 
that in each of the three passages a proper name stood originally 
in the place now occupied by ]^^i, and that these three proper 
names were lost or became unrecognizable, and pDJ was sub- 
stituted to supply the deficiency. p^J would then be a synonym 
of the more customary *Jl'75, and would be equivalent both 
literally and idiomatically to our English "certain" in the 

^ While the locative may be used more frequently with place names, none 
the less the use of 7X likewise in such connection is amply attested; cf. 
Zach. 8:3; II Chron. 20: 27. Or, not impossibly, the original may have 
used the locative, and m may be the result of dittography with the pre- 
ceding '7X. Or it may be that the original text had the locative of the 
place name, but when this was lost and ]U3 was substituted, Sn was 
substituted with it to avoid the building up of the form njIDJ with the 
locative D, which might have been easily confused with the feminine of 
the participle. 

' In Libros Samuelis Commentarius, Argentorati, 1687, '89 (quoted from 
Smith, 231). 


expression, "a certain place," for a place the name of which 
is unknown or has been forgotten. This translation, ' ' certain, ' ' 
for pDJ accords perfectly with the context of all three passages. 

It may be that the original authors themselves were no longer 
acquainted with the actual names in question, and themselves 
employed HDJ in these three passages. More probably, how- 
ever, the original text gave the names correctly, but when these 
became illegible, or, for one reason or another, were lost, later 
scribes inserted the indefinite and idiomatic flDJ . 

While this hypothesis can not, of course, be proved positively, 
it has in its favor at least that it accounts with one explanation 
for the use of pDJ in all three passages, something which no 
other explanation hitherto offered, has succeeded in doing.