Badger or Porpoise skin on the Tabernacle?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by North Carolina Tentmaker, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    In the KJV, Exodus 25:5 says,
    It is talking about the outer covering of the Tabernacle. The outer covering was made of this leather.

    Now I am not KJVO, but I really hate it when I hear a preacher read God's word and say something like, "A better word here would have been. . . " It sounds so pompous like we could be better Greek or Hebrew scholars than the entire King James Translation team. Yet at the same time I cannot deny the fact that there are some words in the King James that are confusing.

    When I read the modern commentaries on this verse they say that the word translated badger here was actually a dolphin or porpoise. Matthew Henry acknowledges that is was probably not badger skin but was a strong but very fine type of leather. The word is the Hebrew word tachash. It occurs 14 times in scripture and each time is translated badger in the King James. The NIV translates this word "sea cow." The NASB translates this word "porpoise."

    I once preached a series on the typology of the Tabernacle and when I came to this part I told the congregation that these were probably porpoise skins. It makes sense to me, they would be a fine leather and also waterproof.

    What do you think? Is this an error in the King James? Does this verse need any explanation, or should we just ignore it and ignore the fact that badger skins would have been impossible to come by in the Egyptian and Arabian deserts?
     
  2. HankD

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    Uh, wouldn't one have a hard time finding a porpoise or dolphin skin in the Egyptian and Arabian deserts as well?

    HankD
     
  3. Ransom

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    Would have been no problem finding them in Egypt and then carrying the leather along as part of the plunder.
     
  4. robycop3

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    I was once told by a Jew that tachash can also mean any species of antelope, and that the word most likely came from the name of Abraham's nephew Thahash in Gen.22:24.

    And we don't know what all the Israelis took with them from Egypt. They well could have taken enough fine leather to have covered the tabernacle, be it from porpoises, antelopes, or badgers.
     
  5. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Good question Hank, I wondered about that myself. What I found was that porpoises were very common at that time in the Mediterranean sea and actually swam up the Nile river quite a ways. They were harvested by the Egyptians and their skins used quite extensively for shoes and other leather garments. They say that it is a very soft supple skin similar to eelskin. From what I read about it they were considered a rather luxurious item but were still fairly common in Egypt.
     
  6. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    I would agree with you robycop, we don't know what they took with them from Egypt. The leather for the tabernacle was probably part of the spoils from Egypt, not something they caught and tanned out in the desert. The problem is that the European badger or the American badger for that matter is not found that far south and never has been. It could have been some type of antelope, but whatever it was I do not think it could have been a badger, at least not what we would call a badger today.
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    I guess what I am really asking in this thread is this: If we agree that this was some type of animal skin that was not a badger, how do we say that from the pulpit without it sounding like we are contradicting or correcting the Bible. I want to tell the truth, but I don't want to cause people to doubt the truth of the Word of God. How do we do that?
     
  8. Ransom

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    North Carolina Tentmaker asked:

    I guess what I am really asking in this thread is this: If we agree that this was some type of animal skin that was not a badger, how do we say that from the pulpit without it sounding like we are contradicting or correcting the Bible.

    You be straightforward and honest, and say that the knowledge available to the translators of the KJV was not as extensive as ours, and so they had to make an educated guess as to its proper meaning. They themselves admit this, in the preface to the KJV:

    Specifically they are defending their use of marginal notes to clarify or suggest alternatives, but the principle is the same for explaining the proper sense of Scripture from the pulpit. There's no need to correct the translation needlessly just because you can, but as Spurgeon once said, "Correct where correction must be for truth's sake."
     
  9. robycop3

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    Upon reflection, I think this issue is the same as it is for unicorns or satyrs in the KJV. The translators had no reason to believe unicorns and satyrs were mythical creatures, and as the exact Hebrew meaning was uncertain, they did the best they could. For example, just ask a Jew proficient in Hebrew what 're'em' means, & he may name rhino, hippo, Cape buffalo, wild ox, or even elephant. One Jew told me it was a large, powerful animal with horns or tusks, & that the meaning was uncertain, that it was most likely a catchword for all such animals if the specific species were unknown.

    The tachash could've been such a catchword. If I have time today, I'll ask a Jewish acquaintance about it.(If HE has time!)
     
  10. HankD

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    It seems to me that whatever animal it was it would have to be kosher to be considered as the tabernacle covering, a porpoise is a mammal but I believe it is pronounced as a fish kine for kosher consideration and therefore it would have to have fins and scales but I believe it has skin like a whale and therefore unclean. I don’t know about a dolphin. A badger would be unclean (traif). An antelope having split hooves and a cud chewer would be kosher.

    HankD

    [ July 12, 2004, 01:55 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  11. DeclareHim

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    "tanned ram's skin, goat skins, acadia wood," ESV

    "tanned ram skins;fine leather; acadia wood;" CEV

    "tanned rams' skins; dolphin skins; acadia wood;" The Message.

    I could have posted about 10 more but they all said one of these three.I think the majority just said "fine leather".
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    This was the outter, water-proof layer on the Tabernacle. Dolphin/porpoise skins is by far the best translation of the Hebrew word and actually common in the Red Sea (surrounding the Sinaii Peninsula).

    One thing all agree on. Wasn't "Badger". I'm from Wisconsin and I've seen those mangy critters at Camp Randall Stadium . . . [​IMG]

    Remember, the BIBLE doesn't have errors. But all TRANSLATIONS have plenty of errors!
     

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