Where Did the Israelites Get Dolphin Leather?
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Exodus 26:14 reads, concerning the tabernacle “And make for the tent a covering of tanned ram skins, and a covering of dolphin skins above.” The word rendered ‘dolphin’ has not always been well-translated, since older, and unfortunately also more modern, translations often referred to these as ‘badger skins’ (cf. the King James Version) or ‘goatskins’; but, there is a good case to be made these were dolphins.

But, that demands an answer to the question, “Where did Israelite people get dolphin skins in the middle of the Sinai desert?” There are at least a few options.

(1) They traded with people from modern Qatar, who brought them up from the south.

(2) They traded with the Canaanite peoples or the Phoenicians (which seems far less likely)

(3) They brought these with them from Egypt when they ‘plundered the Egyptians’

The last option seems to me to make the most sense, seeing that Egypt probably traded with Mediterranean peoples. The picture attached to this post is actually from an island in the Mediterranean, Knossos, and was dated to c. 1500 B.C., about the same time the Israelites left Egypt.

All this makes it plausible the Israelites had access to dolphin leather, dyed blue, for the ceiling of the tabernacle (representing ‘the waters of the sky’).

A modern copy of the ancient Minoan dolphin fresco is installed in place of the original dating from 1500 BC at Knossos palace, Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete, Greece, Europe. Knossos is a Minoan archeological site associated with the Labyrinth and Minotaur of Greek mythology. The Bronze Age palace of Knossos was first built around 1900 BC, destroyed by a large earthquake or foreign invaders in 1700 BC, rebuilt more grandly, then damaged several more times by earthquakes, by invasions, and in 1450 BC by the colossal volcanic eruption of Thera (modern Thira or Santorini). Invading Mycenaeans used Knossos as their capital as they ruled the island of Crete until 1375 BC. Archaeologist Arthur Evans excavated the Palace at Knossos from 1900-1905 and named the Minoan civilization of Crete after king Minos from Greek mythology. Homer’s epic poems of the Iliad and Odyssey are the first Greek literature to mention Minos as a king of Knossos, Crete. Minos was son of Zeus and Europa. Every nine years Minos made King Aegeus pick seven men and seven women to go to the Labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur, a creature half man and half bull. After his death, legendary Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The vast building complex at Knossos is popularly thought to be the site of the Labyrinth, which Greek mythology says was designed by architect Daedalus with such complexity that no one could ever find its exit. Published by Thames & Hudson Ltd in the book “Art and Archaeology of the Greek World” by Richard Neer 2012.
News Reporter
From Madison, Wisconsin. B.A. Biblical Studies: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. M.Div. Student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario.

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