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The MT reads:

וַיַּ֩עַן֩ דָּוִ֨ד אֶת־הַכֹּהֵ֜ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ כִּ֣י אִם־אִשָּׁ֤ה עֲצֻֽרָה־לָ֙נוּ֙ כִּתְמ֣וֹל שִׁלְשֹׁ֔ם בְּצֵאתִ֕י וַיִּהְי֥וּ כְלֵֽי־הַנְּעָרִ֖ים קֹ֑דֶשׁ וְהוּא֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ חֹ֔ל וְאַ֕ף כִּ֥י הַיּ֖וֹם יִקְדַּ֥שׁ בַּכֶּֽלִי׃

According to the NKJV this is how the verse ought to be translated:

Then David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.”

The word וְהוּא֙ is a pronoun (either he or it), the NKJV takes it to refer to the bread mentioned in the previous verse. The word דֶּ֣רֶךְ usually means way or journey, indeed the ESV has "The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey". However, the NKJV chooses to translate "in effect", which is quite a dubious interpretation in my opinion. The word חֹ֔ל is the opposite of sacred or קדש, it conveys that something is common, i.e. it is not sacred to be treated in a special way (i.e., even a defiled person may eat and touch it).

There is no doubt that naturally the translation of the ESV and NIV ("The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey") fits the words ( וְהוּא֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ חֹ֔ל) better than the NJKV. On the other hand, the end of the verse is more appropriately rendered "even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day" as the NKJV does. My question is, can וְהוּא֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ חֹ֔ל justifiably be translated as the NJKV does (the bread is in effect common), when nothing in the text, besides for context, seems to support it's interpretation?

Furthermore, from a practical point of view, why would the bread not be sacred if it was consecrated in the vessel (i.e. the showbread table) today? What would be David's justification for eating the sacred bread (which are usually reserved for the priests)?

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