Millet, דֹחַן, Panicum, Sorghum

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English:

millet

Hebrew:

דֹחַן (dōḥan)

Scientific Name:

Panicum, Sorghum

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Biblical data

Introduction

The word דֹחַן is a hapax legomenon in the Hebrew Bible. It occurs once in a list of grains and legumes that Ezekiel is instructed to use to make bread for himself in the geographic setting of southern Mesopotamia (Ezek 4:9).

Distribution within the Bible

The single occurrence of the word is found in prophecy.

Parts, Elements, Features that Are Specified in the Bible

None.

Function in Context

Realistic reference to its use as an ingredient in bread (לָחֶם, Ezek 4:9). The geographical setting is “the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezek 1:3), or southern Mesopotamia.

Pairs and Constructions

Fifth in a list of six ingredients to make bread, preceded by wheat, barley, beans, and lentils, and followed by emmer: חִטִּין וּשְׂעֹרִים וּפוֹל וַעֲדָשִׁים וְדֹחַן וְכֻסְּמִים. The fact that nothing like this list of ingredients appears elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible in relation to bread suggests that this is probably not ordinary bread.

Contributor: Dr. Raanan Eichler, Biblical scholar, Postdoc 2016

History of Identification

Identification History Table

 

Hebrew Greek Aramaic Syriac Latin Arabic English
Reference MT LXX Revisions Targumim Peshitta Vulgate Jewish Christian KJV NRSV NJPS
Ezek 4:9 דֹחַן κέγχρον
= millet, Panicum miliaceum
דוֹחַן
= millet
dwḥnˀ[1]
= millet
milium
= millet
millet millet millet

 

Discussion

The term is identified as millet by the Septuagint (κέγχρος), Targum Jonathan (דוֹחַן), the Peshitta (dwḥn), and the Vulgate (milium). This identification is unanimously accepted by modern scholars: Löw identifies it specifically with Setaria italica, also known as Panicum italicum and in English as foxtail millet. Feliks prefers Sorghum cernuum, also known as Sorghum bicolor and in English as great millet or sorghum. Amar favors Panicum miliaceum, known in English as proso millet or common millet. Zohary speaks of both Panicum miliaceum and Sorghum bicolor.[2]

End Notes

[1] This word is used by the Peshitta also to render the hapax legomenon פַנַּג in Ezek 27:17.
[2] Löw 1924–34, 1:738–40; Feliks 1968, 154–55; Zohary 1982, 77; Amar 2012, 130–31.

Bibliography

Amar, Zohar. 2012. צמחי המקרא. Jerusalem: Rubin Mass.
Feliks, Yehuda. 1968. עולם הצומח המקראי. Ramat-Gan: Masada.
Löw, Immanuel. 1924–34. Die Flora der Juden. 4 vols. Vienna and Leipzig: Löwit and Kohut.
Zohary, Michael. 1982. Plants of the Bible. London: Cambridge University Press.

Contributor: Dr. Raanan Eichler, Biblical scholar, Postdoc 2016

Biological Information