Taḥash

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

TAḤASH

TAḤASH (Heb. תַּחַשׁ), animal mentioned in the Bible. The skins of the taḥash were used as a covering for the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 35:23; 36:19; et al.). According to Ezekiel (16:10) the Children of Israel made shoes of taḥash while journeying in the wilderness. Many conjectures have been made as to its identity. In Egyptian tḥs means well-tanned leather, and on this basis some are of the opinion that taḥash too was merely leather tanned in a certain way. The tanna Judah thought it to be skin dyed altinon (Greek ἁληδινον) seemingly purple (Eccles. R. 1:9). R. Meir maintained that the taḥash was a legendary creature that existed in the time of Moses and was afterward hidden: "The taḥash of Moses' day was a separate species and sages could not decide whether they were beasts or domestic animals, and it had one horn on its forehead" (Shab. 28b). Some gave additional signs: that it was a clean animal, that it had multicolored skin, and that it was identical with the keresh, the legendary unicorn (ibid.; Eccles. R. loc. cit.). Based on these indications, many suggested identifications for the taḥash have been proposed, such as the fleet-footed antelope (taking taḥash from ḥish, "fleet"), or the giraffe, which has many of the signs given by R. Meir, multicolored skin, a horn-like protrusion on its forehead, and some of the signs of a clean animal. Because the Arabic tukhesh means the sea mammal Dugong hemprichi, some endeavor to identify it with the taḥash. This appears at intervals on the shores of Sinai and is hunted by the Bedouin, who make curtains and shoes from its skin. Others identify the taḥash with another sea mammal, Monodon monoceros, which occasionally reaches the shores of the Red Sea. It has mottled skin and a single tooth-horn on its forehead. These, however, are all conjectures and the identity of the taḥash remains obscure. The av and jps translation of "badger" has no basis in fact.

bibliography:

I. Aharoni, in: Tarbiz, 8 (1936/37), 319–39; J. Furman, ibid., 12 (1940/41), 218–29; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 50.

[Jehuda Feliks]