I have heard that there is a Midrash which says that Dolphins swam on either side of the dry land when the sea was split for Moshe to warn the fish not to swim out onto dry land. Why are there dolphins in the sea in the first place, they do not naturally live there? Does the Mirdrash address this question?

  • @GershonGold I don't know the source, it was always just taught to me, maybe if someone knows the source they can add it to the question. I will try to find the source. Jan 27, 2012 at 16:14
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    First of all, according to several tourism websites, dolphins are, in fact, indigenous to the Red Sea. If you assume that that was the sea that was split (cf. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/11614/5), then that would explain what they were doing there. I don't know about the Midrash, however.
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 16:27
  • @SethJ except it may not have been that sea, if you look at a map that doesn't make much sense, it was probably more of a river, therefore dolphins don't follow. Jan 27, 2012 at 17:21
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    Your question says sea, so I'm basing my comment on that. It's also widely thought to be that way. I think that if you're discussing a sea that was miraculously split and wondering why there were dolphins in said sea, it makes sense to assume that it was a sea (the one the average person thinks it was) in which, in fact, dolphins do live. But see Gershon's answer about it being a modern fable, not a Midrash.
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


There is no such Medrash, this is a fable. Cut and paste to see this link. pn.b5z.net/i/u/6147132/i/A_Tale_of_A_Tail.doc

The website redsea-divingsafari.org mentions that there are dolphins living in the red sea, however as I mentioned above there is no such Medrash, this is a fable.

There are various sites in the southern Red Sea where Dolphins congregate or live. Sammadai national park and Satayah reef are the most well known and both sites are home to spinner dolphins. It is very common to spot these beautiful creatures roaming about the sea anywhere in the south. They are usually very playful and will approach closely so long as you stay calm and respect the dolphins space.


To add to Gershon's answer, it could have come from the fact that Tachash (an animal used for its skins in the Mishkan) is often translated as a dolphin. Where would Bnei Yisrael have gotten dolphin skins? Why, from crossing the sea, of course! (Note, that is not my question/answer, but one that I've seen ridiculed online.) It's conceivable that this is, in fact, based on some Midrash, but I haven't ever heard it.

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    אמר רבי אלעא אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש, אומר היה רבי מאיר: תחש שהיה בימי משה בריה בפני עצמה היה, ולא הכריעו בה חכמים אם מין חיה הוא אם מין בהמה הוא, וקרן אחת הייתה לו במצחו, ולפי שעה נזדמן לו למשה, ועשה ממנו משכן ונגנז Shabbos 28b - so it was not a dolphin. Jan 27, 2012 at 16:52
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    @GershonGold That hasn't stopped people from translating it that way, though, which could be the source for the folktale.
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 17:15
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    I also just verified the claim made in that blog post that dolphin in Arabic sounds very much like Tachash. It is دخس, which would be pronounced as Dachas (Arabic 'S' and Hebrew 'Sh' are cognates, just like Tzadi in Hebrew is replaced with 'Ayin in Aramaic). So you've got a word in Arabic that means dolphin that sounds like Tachash, and a word in the Torah with no known translation, and scholars trying to figure out for centuries what it means. Someone put it together and everyone ran with it. That's my assumption (and that blogger's, I think).
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 17:55
  • Thanks, @Vram. That might serve to further discredit the translation as dolphin, which I'm not promoting, only referencing as a possible source for the idea that there were dolphins involved in the sea crossing.
    – Seth J
    Feb 3, 2012 at 15:17
  • @GershonGold just because its a gemara, doesn't mean there is no room to suggest otherwise.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 11, 2016 at 9:14

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