From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2014

A tanner is a person who works to turn animal skins into leather. The only direct references to a tanner in all of Scripture are found in Acts 9:43 and 10:6,32. This tanner was Simon, who lived in Joppa by the Mediterranean Sea.

If Simon was the only tanner ever mentioned in Scripture, a person might wonder why such a profession is worthy of spotlighting. The reason is because tanners are implied throughout the Bible. They were extremely important to society (though often looked down upon because of the odors that accompany working with dead animals).

Tanners had to “make a covering of ram skins…and badger skins” for the tabernacle (Exodus 26:14). They provided leather for millions of sandals and belts that people have worn throughout history (Ezekiel 16:10; Matthew 3:4). The leather for these materials did not just magically appear. A tanner previously had to (1) remove the hide from the dead animal, (2) soak the hide in containers until all of the blood, fat, and animal hair was removed, and then (among other things) (3) dry the skins.

The tanner’s work may not have been envied by the masses, but their products were certainly in high demand—and still are!


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