As noted elsewhere on the site, there is a spelling variation in the fourth word of the following verse:

לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א פְצֽוּעַ־דַּכָּ֛א*(ברוב ספרי אשכנז דַּכָּ֛ה) וּכְר֥וּת שׇׁפְכָ֖ה בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהֹוָֽה׃        
No one whose testes are crushed or whose member is cut off shall be admitted into the congregation of the Lord. [Deut. 23:2]

The parenthetical remark in Sefaria says that Ashkenazim put a heh at the end of daka instead of an aleph. Does this variation affect the meaning of the verse in any way? (This is the only place where daka, in the meaning of testicle, appears in the Torah.)


2 Answers 2


The better manuscripts have an א but there's absolutely no difference. Either way there are plenty of examples for both spellings in Tanakh.


Here's a wild, albeit interesting guess: either דכא or דכה does not mean literally testicle, they both mean "severely or badly distressed", throughout Tanach.

  1. As you know, א and ה were very highly interchangeable both in Tanach and Mishnah (for example, קורה instead of קורא).

  2. A fast search through Sefaria "דכא" and "דכה" reveals that both mean "severely or badly distressed".

The Torah already knows the word for testes- "אשך", see "אוֹ מְרוֹחַ אָשֶׁךְ" (Lev.21.20), and none of the Targumim on "פְצֽוּעַ־דַּכָּ֛א" hints on testes.

So, in conclusion, indeed the Torah does not say "testes" at all, it's the oral tradition, and there's no difference in the meaning of דכא or דכה in the Tanach.

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