The prohibition of tattooing in its biblically legal context is far from simple, as many strictly construe. Before commencing a discussion on the legality of this practice, its factual and mechanical parameters must be outlined. Contemporary tattooing methods are narrow and almost always make use of the Rotary and Coil Machine. This method allows for a linear, smooth pulse of needles to penetrate the skin, allowing for ink to settle in the dermis region of one’s flesh. As the needles are lodged with various forms of ink, macrophages (which are a type of defensive white blood cell) engulf and enclose the intruding ink, as it is the function of the cell to apprehend and control all foreign substances and microbes entering the body. Consequently, this immune defense response traps the design imprinted in oneself.
In light of this technical understanding, modern tattooing methods must match the procedure of the ancient tattooing method in order to fall under the scope of the biblical prohibition. The verse (Lev. 19:28) states: “and an etching [for the sake of] a soul you shall not place on your flesh, and you shall not place tattoo writing on yourselves, I am The Lord.” One example of Ancient Near Eastern tattooing practice reveals a divine medicinal function. This also seems to be the basic trend of theme that is indicated by other archaeological examples. The following is a sketch of a female mummy identified as Amunet, a Priestess of the goddess Hathor at Thebes, based on the findings at the Deir el-Bahari Temple complex in Egypt, by French Egyptologist Eugène Grébaut (1891).
As the image shows, there are a number of tattooed markings on her body. A design consisting of multiple diamond shapes composed of dots are tattooed on the middle of her right thigh. Amunet also bore extensive tattooing over her abdomen: A series of dots and dashes forming an elliptical pattern of rows covers almost the entire abdominal wall in the suprapubic region. “Tattoos on the abdominal part of the female body would have become particularly notable when the woman became pregnant – the patterns would expand, forming an even more symbolically interesting pattern, like a web or netting design”. In a similar vein, French Doctor and Egyptologist, Dr. Daniel M. Fouquet (1898) describes the tattoos he found on female mummies at the Deir el-Bahari complex. He conjectures that the tattoos and other scarifications observed on the bodies may have served a medicinal or therapeutic purpose. The examination of these scars, some white, others blue, leaves in no doubt that they are not, in essence, ornament, but an established treatment for a condition of the pelvis, likely a sort of chronic pelvic peritonitis.
I offer this brief historical report not to solidify millennia of archaeological and historical debate, but rather to raze the stalks of contemporary taboo and misconception surrounding this prohibition and to pave the path for an originalist understanding of the prohibition in Rabbinic Literature. Tangentially, I also offer this approach to differ with those that attach a mourning theme to tattooing in the Bible. Unlike the assumption of literate and self-proclaimed pompous biblical scholars, the prohibition has nothing to do with mourning. It is true that in v. 29 the mourning rite of slashing is prohibited in juxtaposition to tattooing. What is ignored is the format in which v. 29 appears in authorized scrolls, which begins with an opening space and ends with one too.. This closing paragraph, in which v. 29 is contained, lists prohibitions pertaining to pagan customs and rites, not mourning. They view the tree but do not see the forest.
In a critical and astute fashion typical of the Mishna, the Court (Makkot 3§6) defines the prohibition as follows: “One who tattoos: If he writes without engraving, or engraves without writing; he is not liable until he writes and engraves with ink, or pigment, or anything that leaves an imprint. R. Simeon b. Judah said in the name of R. Simeon: “he is not liable until he writes a name [of idolatry] there. As it [the verse] states: “Do not tattoo yourself, for I am The Lord.” Assuming the law does not follow the opinion of R. Simeon, I do not believe that the tattooing of images (as opposed to letters) falls under the scope of the prohibition, as this does not constitute “writing”. Elsewhere, the Mishna (Shabbat 12§3) restricts writing to the inscription of two letters: an intelligibly written form of conveying meaning from language. This also happens to be the only way the Hebrew root for writing (KTB) is used in ancient texts. Modern methods undoubtedly “engrave” the ink into one’s flesh. However, the duration of life for substances that “impress” remains undefined in an explicit manner.
The Court rules elsewhere (ibid § 4) “[If] one writes with a liquid, or with fruit juice, or in the dust of the road, or scribes’ dust, or with any substance which does not imprint, he is exempt.” And again (Gittin 2§3), regarding the admissible forms of writing a bill of divorce: “One may write [a bill of divorce] with any [material]: with ink, with paint, with red paint, with gum, or with vitriol black, and with every other lasting material. One may not write with [colored] drinks, nor with fruit juices or any matter that does not last.” By way of implication, it may be assumed that any ink which has a longer duration of permanence than the examples mention above, does constitute “imprinting” as far as the law is concerned. This is made even clearer with the Mishna’s apparent interchangeable use of the term “imprint” and “lasting material[s]”. However, this implication is not without ambiguity.
Although the Texts may yield the implication mentioned above, the Talmud (Gittin 19a) clarifies on its own right. It is quick to note the implications of the clause in question: “What does it (‘anything that lasts’) come to include? It alludes to the law of R. Ḥanina: “if he wrote with gall-water or with gall-nut [ink], the bill is valid.” In a supportive concurrence, the ruling of R. Ḥiyya is cited: “If he wrote with lead, coals, or vitriol, the bill is valid.” Gall-nut and all the other materials mentioned above have a relatively lengthy permanence on paper, even making their way on the tables of scribes and poets throughout the Middle Ages.
In addition to this legal approach, the Aramaic renditions of the Bible (Lev. 19:28, Deu. 18:10, Exod. 7:11) and elsewhere, reveal much about the ritual significance of tattooing later adopted. The Targum translates the verse in Lev. as making cuts in the body, referring to writing as ḥaritin– which is a cognate form of ḥarish. This latter term is usually used to refer to sorcerers or witches, etc. As other verses in chapter 19 prohibit divination and other pagan practices, it is possible that the practices which are forbidden include practices of cutting the flesh. This similar to the method used by the priests of Ba’al; trying to contact the dead by means of slashing (as in 1 Kings 18:28). The writing (ḥarit), I believe, served as a magical incantation of some sort; a form of necromancy. This view is also endorsed by Maimonides in his magnum opus, The Mishne Tora (Laws of Avoda Zara 12§11), and pointed out with the above linguistic comparison by my dear friend, Jacob Metz.
On a final note, the prohibitions of tattooing and destroying one’s beard are addressed to the performer of these actions; they are recorded as second person infinitive verbs. Thus, so long as one does not move to aid the process one is not liable for these actions being performed on him. Evidently condensing this examination, the prohibition of tattooing must contain 1. Active dermal penetration with a needle or blade. 2. Ink placed in the created wound used to formally write letters. 3. A duration of permanence that the inks listed above have.
 See the following brief, yet comprehensive mechanical rundown by BrainStuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkVTFiyW5dg.
 Albeit accurate, your author’s translation (like most translations of Hebrew) does not encompasses the full scope of implications that the verse connotes.
 For other examples supporting this hypothesis, see:
1. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/tattoos-144038580/?no-ist: “During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and “keep everything in.” The placing of small figures of the household deity Bes at the tops of their thighs would again suggest the use of tattoos as a means of safeguarding the actual birth, since Bes was the protector of women in labor, and his position at the tops of the thighs a suitable location. This would ultimately explain tattoos as a purely female custom.”
2. http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/tattoo_museum/egyptian_tattoos.html: “The earliest known tattoo with a picture of something specific, rather than an abstract pattern, represents the god Bes. Bes is the lascivious god of revelry and he served as the patron god of dancing girls and musicians. Bes’s image appears as a tattoo on the thighs of dancers and musicians in many Egyptian paintings, and Bes tattoos have been found on female Nubian mummies dating from about 400BC.”
3. http://www.livescience.com/54687-egyptian-mummy-tattoos.html: “Austin explained that the symbols’ position on the woman’s throat — directly over her voice box — may have signaled that whenever the woman spoke or sang, she invoked a ritual power to do good.”
 Geoffrey Tassie, ‘Identifying the Practice of Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Nubia’, in Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, Vol. 14 (2003), P. 91.
 Daniel Fouquet, ‘Le Tatouage Medicale en Egypte dans l’Antiquite et a l’Epoque Actuelle’, in Archives d’Anthropologie Criminelle, Tome 13 (1898), P.271.
 The function of these indents, known respectively as petuḥot and setumot, is to separate one topic from another. It is not the prerogative of the individual to arbitrarily draw lines of contextual drift in the Text.
 This definition of the Hebrew root-word Q’AQ’A follows the traditional and common understanding of the post Second Temple era. See Targum Onqelos to Lev. 19:28 and R. David Qimḥi’s Sefer Hashorashim (P.338).
 Evidently, R. Simeon’s opinion would permit tattooing anything that is not the name of foreign deity. His view is unopposed in the Tosefta (Makkot 3§9), and is accepted by R. Isaac Alfasi and R. Asher (ad loc.) and other prominent medieval rabbinical authorities.
 This distinction leads to a separate prohibition for drawing or painting on the Sabbath. Likewise, I view R. Joshua’s ruling (ad loc. § 4) to be rooted in the factor of a writing’s lifespan (since wounds heal). However, engraving is inherently and legally a form of writing. See Mishne Tora (Laws of Divorce 4§6).
 I do not rule out the possibility that the Text intentionally used two different terms in the above two cases, as “imprinting” and “lasting material[s]” might fall under two separate levels of legal permanency.
 Either a fruit or gall solution of equal permanence to the other materials mentioned above. See Rashi and Tos. Rid ad loc.
 See Mishne Tora (Laws of Avoda Zara 12 § 8, 15). Rabbinical authorities debate if this method is permitted ideally.