Goedicke, Hans. 1956. “King ḥwḎfȝ?”. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 42: 50–53.
The Turin Royal List (III, 2) gives as the next to the last king of the Second Dynasty the name . The same name, although largely destroyed, appears again in III, 7 between ḏsr-tti and ḥw-[ny]. The Abydos list, our best hieroglyphic account, does not mention this king in Dyn. II, and in Dyn. III a king is indicated in the pertinent place. The other monumental king-list, the Sakkarah list, is likely to have listed this king in Dyn. II (no. 10), but unfortunately this entry is rather severely damaged. No indication of a king with this name is, however, given in Dyn. III. Manetho, the late chronicler, gives neither in Dyn. II nor in Dyn. III a name which could be identified with that in the Turin Royal List. No documents of a king with this name are preserved in any way and the assumption of the existence of a ruler named ḥwḏfꜢ in Dyns. II and III is solely based upon the Turin Royal List.
A name of this form is not attested for a private person either. Concerning its existence as a royal name, even in distorted spelling, as is the case with a considerable number of the royal names of the early period, for which the scribe of the Turin Royal List adopted spellings different from those occurring on the contemporary monuments of those Pharaohs, one feature seems particularly striking. It is the use of the group . Even assuming that the late scribe should have used a peculiar spelling for the name of a king whose name was not familiar to him, the presence of this sign, indicating 'evil', as a part of the name appears highly suspicious.
The occurrence of this group , previously also transcribed  is not restricted to these two occurrences. It appears also three times in col. VIII as part of names. The instances are: VIII, 5 ; VIII, 7 ; and VIII, 10 . In two of the instances it is with certainty preceded by ḏfꜢ, as in the names under discussion. It remains to say that neither one of those rulers of the late Middle Kingdom is attested by any other source. From the occurrences it can be concluded that the group serves as determinative to a word ḏfꜢ.
In addition to those occurrences as part of a royal name, the group furthermore occurs four times in the Turin Royal List. All of them are connected with the indication of dates. In the earliest example, IV, 16 and IV, 17, it is followed by the indication of six years, both times being part of a summary of the duration of the preceding reigns. In this instance the group is considered to indicate an interregnum between Dyn. VI and Dyn. VIII. It is also found in VI, 6 after the complete entry concerning the King sḫm.kꜢ.rꜤ Imn.m ḥꜢt.snb, followed by the indication of six years. Since it is already preceded by an account of the regnal years of this Pharaoh, now lost, it cannot be connected with this person. The two other instances, again in column VIII, are in a broken context. In VIII, 12, written as a rubric, it is followed by the entry of days ruled by the preceding Pharaoh, while in VIII, 14 it follows, likewise as a rubric, after the indication of months and days of the reign.
We thus have two principal contexts in which the group appears in the Turin Royal List. The one is as part of royal names, the other in connexion with the length of reigns. It seems justified to postulate identical significance in all cases where the group appears, since the assumption of a varying usage of it as part of the royal name, on the one hand, and in connexion with the date indication, on the other, appears most unlikely to me.
In view of these facts the assumption that is used here as determinative of ḏfꜢ 'food' cannot be correct, since the use of the same word in connexion with date-indications gives no sense whatsoever. Moreover, ḏfꜢ 'food' as an element of a royal name is not attested elsewhere, and it seems that it was not used as a compound in names for a king except in the form of a causative verb in the name sḏfꜢ-kꜢ-rꜤ, but which application is basically different from the nominal one presupposed for ḏfꜢ. Finally, the appearance of the 'evil' bird, even though it might result from an erroneous spelling of the scribe, seems highly suspect and would be in strong contradiction to the otherwise highly honorific treatment received by the royal name.
ḏfꜢ, the phonetic value of the word, according to the above-mentioned occurrences, is in my opinion identical with ḏfi, attested by the medical literature with the meaning 'to sink in'. The same root is found as ḏf 'to deteriorate', of a building, although only attested from Greek times. Identical with this word is wdf, spelled with ḏ since the Middle Kingdom. In its intransitive use it has the meaning 'to hesitate'; it also is found as a transitive and has then the significance 'to let become forgotten'. These different forms all are basically identical, the primary trend expressed being material decay. It is in this way that I propose to understand ḏfꜢ in the Turin Royal List, indicating gaps in the original from which the text was copied, as frequently done by wš. ḏfꜢ and wš are thus to be considered as synonyms. Support for this identification can be found in a passage in the Hatnub Graffito no. 12, I. 3-4 where a man proudly speaks about himself: 'I was a scribe of restoring the gaps (destroyed papyri), skilled with his fingers.' ḏfḏfw, not attested elsewhere, is apparently a reduplication of ḏfꜢ, used here of mutilated papyri. It is in this connexion significant that the man is at the same time sš mḏꜢt-nṯr 'scribe of the divine book', and it is tempting to assume that his activity as restorer of defective papyri has something to do with this profession of his. A parallel case to this indication concerning the restoration of papyri is already attested from the late Dyn. VI by the title 'scribe of what was found destroyed', but here with the use of wš. The holder of this title is likewise sš mḏꜢt-nṯr, as we have found in the case quoted above.
Since ḏfꜢ thus has to be recognized as having the significance of indicating a gap in the original from which the Turin Royal List was copied, the instances where it occurs become fully understandable. In the cases of those three royal names, mentioned above, it accordingly indicates that only part of them was still legible to the scribe, the rest having been destroyed, which in all cases is the end of the name.
In the same way the indication has to be understood when used in connexion with the accounts of the length of reigns. In VIII, 2 it probably is to be considered that the figure giving the number of months was missing, while in VIII, 14 it seems necessary to take it as an indication of a gap following the entry. This might either mean that there was a lacuna to the subsequent entry or else that an additional statement in the same line was lost.
As for the occurrence in the grand total after Dyn. VI, where the group is followed by the indication of six years, it likewise cannot be considered as having the significance of 'interregnum', an idea which hardly would fit to the concept of perpetuity of Egyptian kingship, which demands a continuous occupation of the throne. The occurrence there seems rather to express that for a period of six years the names of the rulers, who represent Manetho's Dynasty VII, were lost in the original, although the length of their reigns was known to the later scribe. In the same way I propose to interpret also the identical entry in VI, 6, following sḫm.kꜢ-rꜤ 'Imn-m-ḥꜢt-snb.
We now can return to the question with which we started, the King ḥwḏfꜢ of Dyns. II and III. Applying the results of our investigation of the significance of , there can be no doubt that no king with this name ever existed. According to the use of this expression to indicate a lacuna, as found in col. VIII, we might well assume in III, 2, the fully preserved entry, that the missing royal name started with and that only the other signs of it were lost in the original. Although this explanation appears to be possible, I wonder if we may not have here a derivative of ḏfꜢ formed by a ḥ-prefix. If my conjecture is correct, even though such a word does not seem to be attested, it would be likely to have the meaning 'fully lost', as a prefixed ḥ causes the intensification of the meaning of the simplex. In that case the entry in the original has to be assumed as completely lost, possibly even that in this place there was a larger lacuna, covering more than one line. Supporting such an assumption is the fact that for the specific chronological position occupied by this expression in the Turin Royal List we have more than one ruler attested by the contemporary monuments. This is particularly the case for Dyn. III, where the account given in the Turin Royal List is in wide disaccord with Manetho's record, which gives 9 (according to Africanus), or 8 (according to Eusebius) rulers for Dyn. III, which seems more likely to conform with the monuments of the known Pharaohs of that period than the other account with its rather limited number of kings.
Summing up, we can say that a Pharaoh named ḥwḏfꜢ never existed in Dyns. II or III, but that this entry in the Turin Royal List has to be understood as the indication of a lacuna in the original from which the scribe of the New Kingdom copied that record.