Free Online Bible Library | Tattoo

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TATTOO (Tahitian tatau, reduplication of ta, to mark, to strike). The indelible mark made by pricking and inserting pigment under the skin.

Although there are prob. no references to actual tattooing in the Bible, it has been held a possible interpretation in five types of Biblical situations:

a. A “mark” or “seal” warning not to harm (Gen 4:15; Ezek 9:4, 6; Rev 7:1-8);

b. A symbol of the Lord remembering His people (Isa 49:16);

c. A symbol of Jews remembering the Lord, His deliverance and commandments (Exod 13:9, 16; Deut 6:8; 11:18, 19);

d. A possible type of forbidden heathen mourning practices (Lev 19:28; 21:1, 5; Deut 14:1; Jer 16:6);

e. The mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-18; 14:9, 11; 19:20; 20:4).

Leviticus 19:28 contains the only occurrence of q’ q’ (incision, imprintment, tattoo, BDB) rendered “tattoo” in some Eng. translations. Perusal of mourning customs, however, indicates frequent association of head-shaving with body-cutting and painting (e.g., with clay), but never tattooing, which has other meanings.

Likewise, other type situations may only be interpreted as indicating tattoo from conjecture not based upon ethnological inference.