Parashas Shof'tim, 19:10:

וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב אַרְצְךָ

And 21:8:

וְאַל־תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל

And then Ki Savo 27:25:

לְהַכּוֹת נֶפֶשׁ דָּם נָקִי

However, back in Shof'tim, 19:13:

וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם־הַנָּקִי מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

… which uses the definite variant of "דַּם־נָקִי", not of "דָּם נָקִי".

Why is "דָּם נָקִי" (literally "innocent blood") used in most places and (a form of) "דַּם־נָקִי" (literally "blood of an innocent") used in 19:13?
Is there a difference in meaning between "דָּם נָקִי" and "דַּם־נָקִי"?

(I'm asking about "דָּם נָקִי" vs. "דַּם־נָקִי", not about definite vs. indefinite.)

  • Have you looked for further examples in Nakh?
    – Double AA
    Aug 19, 2013 at 0:22
  • @DoubleAA, I did, and examples of both forms exist IIRC, but I didn't jot down where they are. The above are IIRC all the examples in Ta.
    – msh210
    Aug 19, 2013 at 0:23
  • Just to be sure I understand the question - could this be rephrased as a question about the adjectivity of the construct state in general, like "is there a difference in meaning between a noun described by another noun and a noun described by an adjective?"? (This is assuming despite the terminology that the stative verb naki as a nominal and as an adjective are basically the same word.)
    – WAF
    Sep 8, 2016 at 20:23
  • @WAF, I don't think my question is really a grammatical one at all. In grammatical terms, the difference is clear: one phrase is "innocent blood" and the other is "blood of an innocent one". My question is farther from the syntax/morphology and well into the semantics, asking what practical difference in meaning there is. (If that makes sense.)
    – msh210
    Sep 11, 2016 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


דָּם נָקִי means clean (innocent) blood, and דַּם־הַנָקִי means blood of the clean (innocent). Therefore in this context,

וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם־הַנָּקִי מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

which is talking about a event in past-tense, (avenging an already murdered man) there is an "object" (person) in discussion, and a "ה" (the) is appropriate.

And when using דם attached to another word, it has a patach, which weakens the emphasis on the word דם as standing alone, and makes it mean "blood of the clean" (innocent), where "clean" is the main description, and "blood" is added on to it.

NOTE: you may want to move this to Biblical Hermeneutics

  • 1
    I can understand why this would also make sense on biblical hermeneutics, but why would it not belong here?
    – Heshy
    Sep 8, 2016 at 21:19

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