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Skin

SKIN

(`or, geledh, "human skin" (Job 16:15), basar, "flesh," in the sense of "nakedness" (Psalms 102:5 the King James Version); derma):

Literal:

The word `or designates the skin of both men and animals, the latter both raw and in tanned condition:

"Yahweh God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins (`or), and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21); "She put the skins (`or) of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck" (Genesis 27:16); "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jeremiah 13:23). The Hebrew geledh is found in the sense of human skin: "I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and have laid my horn in the dust" (Job 16:15).

Figurative:

`To escape by the skin of the teeth' is equivalent to a narrow escape (Job 19:20). Satan says in his calumny of Job:

"Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2:4). The idea here is, that a man will endure or do the worst, even as it were the flaying of his body, to save his life. The Revised Version (British and American) has replaced "skin" as the translation of Hebrew basar by "flesh": "My bones cleave to my flesh" (Psalms 102:5). "The bars of his skin" is a poetical expression for "the members of his body" in Job 18:13 margin, where the text interprets rather than translates the original.

Skins served for purposes of clothing from an early date (Genesis 3:21). In later days they were the raiment of prophets and hermits (Zechariah 13:4; Hebrews 11:37). Septuagint translates 'addereth, "the mantle" of Elijah (1 Kings 19:13,19; 2 Kings 2:8,13), with melote, i.e. "sheepskin," the word in He being derived from these passages. It is not unlikely that the raiment of John the Baptist made "of camel's hair" and the "leathern girdle about his loins" are identical with the rough garb of Old Testament prophets. The skins of cattle were largely employed for technical uses; "rams' skins and badgers' skins" are especially mentioned in the construction of the tabernacle as material for the waterproof covering of the roof (Exodus 25:5; Numbers 4:8,10).

The Revised Version, rejecting the translation "badgers' skins," substitutes "sealskins" and adds "porpoise skins" in the margin. There is little doubt that the rendering of the King James Version is indeed incorrect. The Hebrew name of the animal (tachash) is the same as the Arabic tuchas, which means the dolphin and the "sea-cow" or halicore of the Red Sea, of which genus there are two species even now extant (H. tabernaculi Russ, and H. Helprichii Ehr.). It is probable that the Jews included various marine animals, seals, porpoises, dolphins and halicores, under the same expression.

See SEALSKIN.

In Ezekiel 16:10 we find these skins mentioned as material for elegant shoes, and the Arabs of the Red Sea littoral use the same material in the manufacture of sandals. A quaint use was made of skins in the making of skin bottles, the qurbeh or qirbeh of modern Arabia. We find a great variety of Hebrew expressions, which possibly designated special varieties, all of which were rendered askos, in Septuagint and the New Testament (chemeth, no'dh, no'dhah, nebhel, nebhel, baqbuq, 'obh). the Revised Version (British and American) has rendered the Greek askos in the New Testament by "wineskin" (Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37) with the marginal addition "that is, skins used as bottles." These skin bottles were made of the skins of goats, sheep, oxen or buffaloes; the former had more or less the shape of the animals, the holes of the extremities being closed by tying or sewing, and the neck of the skin being closed by a tap or a plug, while the larger ones were sewn together in various shapes. As a rule only the inside of the skin was tanned, the skin turned inside out, and the fluid or semi-fluid filled in, e.g. water, milk, butter, cheese. The hairy inside was not considered as in any way injurious to the contents. Only in the case of wine-and oil-skins was it thought advantageous to tan the skins inside and out.

H. L. E. Luering


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'SKIN'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.