Hebrew taḥaš and the West Semitic Tent Tradition

In: Vetus Testamentum

The Hebrew lexeme taḥaš, which designates one of the materials of the outer layer of the priestly tent sanctuary, has puzzled interpreters for hundreds of years. This article surveys the recent discussion of the term and provides evidence in favor of a parallel to the Akkadian duḫšum/tuḫšum. So far overlooked in this discussion is the functional parallel between the use of Hebrew taḥaš for the covering of the tent sanctuary and the use of tuḫšum at Mari for the covering of a large, royal tent structure (ḫurpatum). Buttressing the phonological and functional parallel between Hebrew taḥaš and Mari duḫšum/tuḫšum are a series of other terminological connections between Mari’s ḫurpatum, the tent-dwelling of Ugaritic ʾIlu, and the Israelite priestly tent sanctuary.

  • 4

    So also Noonan, “Hide or Hue?,” 583.

  • 6

    Dalley, “Faience and Beadwork,” 1-19. This proposal appears first in Friedrich Delitzch, Assyrisches Handwörterbuch (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1896), 705.

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  • 8

    Dalley, “Faience and Beadwork,” 5.

  • 11

    Dalley, “Faience and Beadwork,” 5-6; Jean-Marie Durand, La Nomenclature des Habits et des Textiles dans les Textes de Mari (arm 30; Paris: cnrs, 2009), 153, who likewise emphasizes the presence of the /ḫ/ and the absence of the long vowel.

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  • 12

    Durand, La Nomenclature des Habits et des Textiles, 153.

  • 13

    Ibid., 8. The suggestion that the Hurrian word was borrowed into Sumerian originated with A. L. Oppenheim, Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets of the Wilberforce Eames Babylonian Collection (New Haven, 1948), 108.

  • 14

    Dalley, “Faience and Beadwork,” 8-9.

  • 15

    Ibid., 9.

  • 16

    Ibid., 10-17.

  • 18

    Noonan, “Hide or Hue?,” 580-89. The Egyptian connection, as Noonan notes, was first suggested at the end of the end of the 19th century by J. H. Bondi, “Gegenseitige Kultureinflüsse der Ägypter und Semiten,” Aegyptiaca: Festschrift für Georg Ebers zum 1. März 1897 (Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann, 1897), 1-7, cited by Noonan, “Hide or Hue?,” 586.

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  • 19

    Ibid., 581, 584-85.

  • 20

    Cf. Durand, La Nomenclature des Habits et des Textiles, 153.

  • 21

    Noonan, “Hide or Hue?,” 585.

  • 22

    Dalley, “Faience and Beadwork,” 9.

  • 23

    Ibid., 588, my emphasis.

  • 25

    Ibid., 10-11.

  • 27

    Ibid., 154.

  • 30

    Ibid., 486-88.

  • 33

    Ibid., 489-90. Cf. more recently, Bohdan Hrobon, “Shaping up the Form of the Tabernacle,” vt 63 (2013), 556.

  • 36

    Fleming, “Mari’s Large Public Tent,” 493-95.

  • 37

    Ibid., 497.

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