tachash: The word tachash occurs in the descriptions of the tabernacle in Exodus 25; 26; 35; 36; 39, in the directions for moving the tabernacle as given in Numbers 4, and in only one other passage, Ezekiel 16:10, where Jerusalem is spoken of as a maiden clothed and adorned by her Lord. In nearly all these passages the word tachash occurs with `or, "skin," rendered: the King James Version "badgers' skins," the Revised Version (British and American) "sealskin," the Revised Version, margin "porpoise-skin," Septuagint dermata huakinthina. In all the passages cited in Ex and Nu these skins are mentioned as being used for coverings of the tabernacle; in Ezekiel 16:10, for shoes or sandals. The Septuagint rendering would mean purple or blue skins, which however is not favored by Talmudic writers or by modern grammarians, who incline to believe that tachash is the name of an animal. The rendering, "badger," is favored by the Talmudic writers and by the possible etymological connection of the word with the Latin taxus and the German Dachs. The main objection seems to be that badgers' skins would probably not have been easily available to the Israelites. The badger, Meles taxus, while fairly abundant in Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, does not seem to occur in Sinai or Egypt.
A seal, Monachus albiventer (Arabic fukmeh), the porpoise, Phocoena comrnunis, and the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, are all found in the Mediterranean. The dugong, Halicore dugong, inhabits the Indian Ocean and adjoining waters from the Red Sea to Australia. The Arabic tukhas or dukhas is near to tachash and is applied to the dolphin, which is also called delfin. It may be used also for the porpoise or even the seal, and is said by Tristram and others to be applied to the dugong. The statement of Gesenius (Boston, 1850, under the word "tachash") that the Arabs of Sinai wear sandals of dugong skin is confirmed by recent travelers, and is of interest with reference to Ezekiel 16:10, ".... shod thee with badgers' skin" (King James Version). The dugong is a marine animal from 5 to 9 ft. in length, frequenting the shore and feeding upon seaweed. It belongs to the order Sirenia. While outwardly resembling Cetacea (whales and porpoises), the Sirenia are really more allied to the Ungulata, or hoofed animals. The dugong of the Indian Ocean and the manatee of the Atlantic and of certain rivers of Africa and South America, are the only living representatives of the Sirenia. A third species, the sea-cow of Behring Sea, became extinct in the 18th century. The seal and porpoise of the Revised Version (British and American), the dolphin, and the dugong are all of about the same size and all inhabit the seas bordering on Egypt and Sinai, so that all are possible candidates for identification with the tachash. Of the four, recent opinion seems most to favor the dugong.
Mr. S. M. Perlmann has suggested (Zoologist, set. 4, XII, 256, 1908) that the okapi is the animal indicated by tachash.
Gesenius (Leipzig, 1905) cites Bondi (Aegyptiaca, i.) who adduces the Egyptian root t-ch-s and makes the expression `or tachash mean "soft-dressed skin." This suits the context in every passage and is very promising explanation.
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