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Sea Cow Hides and Their Origins in the Bible

The Bible speaks of sea cow hides as being used for covering items in the holy tabernacle. It’s a small link in a larger theme of coverings in the Bible, but one we don’t often consider. This article explores the use of sea cow hides and their origins in the Bible. Read on to learn more. (Important: Sea cow hides were used for covering 144 cubits of items.)

144 cubits

The length of a sea cow’s hide is about 144 cubits. That’s almost the same as the width of a football field. But the biblical sea cow was even bigger! In the Bible, sea cows are a cousin of the manatee. Moses was told by God to cover many articles with sea cow hides. These cows are still plentiful today and are an excellent source of hides for different articles.


The New American Standard Bible (NASB) uses porpoise, though the ASV makes mention of sealskins. Seals were abundant in the Sinai Peninsula and were much easier to procure than porpoises, which would have made their skins a better option. In biblical times, the average Jew would have had much more success securing these hides. While there are many theories as to the origins of these hides, some scholars are convinced that biblical texts were derived from the Bible.

The word cash is also used to describe fine leather in the Bible. It is translated as “badgers’ skins” in the King James Version (KJV), “sea cow,” or “sea seal.” The New American Standard Bible, or NAB, also refers to the hide as cash, but other versions of the Bible use different translations.


The Bible describes the dugong as a “sea cow,” and the hide of this animal may have been used by the ancient Israelites in the construction of the Tabernacle. Interestingly enough, the biblical sea cow is the only animal that has an exact translation. Though dugongs are common throughout Palestine, they are only a few species found in captivity worldwide, including in Japan, Singapore, and Australia.

The Bible references dugongs on numerous occasions, and they are often mentioned in relation to their skin. The Israelites were required to make offerings from the sea cows and use their tough skin for tent coverings. It is unlikely that this small demand had a major impact on the dugong population. Dugongs are part of the order Sirenia, which includes freshwater manatees and Steller’s sea cows. Despite the fact that dugongs have low demand, they were able to survive with the help of God.

Sea cow

In the Bible, sea cow hides are used to cover various articles and the tent for the Ark of the Covenant. The hides of sea cows were similar to those used to cover the tabernacle. It is a small link to the theme of coverings found throughout the Bible. While these cows were not necessarily the only animal that was used for coverings, they are still significant in the story. In Exodus 26:3, God mentions dugongs, which are closely related to sea cows.

After the fall, Adam and Eve needed to cover themselves. Initially, they used fig leaves to cover themselves, but God soon upgraded their covering to animal skins. The Israelites had to send hunting parties to obtain the hides they needed, but they could have donated them themselves. Biblical sea cow hides are more than just an inexpensive way to protect your body from the elements. If you’d like to know more about Biblical sea cowhide, read on!

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