And rams' skins died red
Of these were made a covering for the tent or tabernacle:
and badgers' skins,
which were for the same use: the Septuagint version calls them hyacinth or blue skins; according to which, they seem to be the rams' skins died blue; and so Josephus F2 seems to have understood it; and it is much questionable whether the same creature is meant we call the badger, since that with the Israelites was an unclean creature; nor is its skin made use of for shoes, or well could be, as the skin of this creature is said to be, ( Ezekiel 16:10 ) . Jarchi says it was a kind of beast only at that time; and Aben Ezra says, it was known in those days but not now: and
supposed by the Jewish writers, as Kimchi F3, and Ben Melech from him, to be the best and most excellent kind of cedar: Aben Ezra conjectures, and he delivers it but as a conjecture, that there might be near Mount Sinai a forest of "shittim" trees; and while the Israelites were there they cut them down for booths, which they might carry with them when they removed from thence; for, he says, Moses did not speak of the tabernacle till after the day of atonement: and since Acacia is by much the largest and the most common tree of the deserts of Arabia, as Dr. Shaw F4 observes, he thinks there some reason to conjecture, that the "shittim wood", whereof the several utensils of the tabernacle were made, was the wood of Acacia: and long ago it was the opinion of Cordus F5 that the "shittim wood" was the Acacia of Dioscorides; and it is the same with the Senton or Santon of the Arabians, which is the Egyptian thorn that grows in the wilderness, of which Herodotus F6 says, they cut wood of two cubits out of and make ships of burden of it: this is said to grow in the parts of Egypt at a distance from the sea; in the mountains of Sinai, at the Red sea, about Suez, in the barren wilderness; which circumstances seem to determine it to be the "shittim wood" F7: some places where it might grow in plenty seem to have had their names from it, see ( Numbers 25:1 ) ( 33:49 ) ( Joel 3:18 ) .
F2 Ut supra. (Antiq. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 1.)
F3 Sepher Shorash. rad. (jwv)
F4 Travels, p. 144. Ed. 2.
F5 Apud Drus. Heb. Adag. Decur. 3. Adag. 4.
F6 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 96.
F7 Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 204.