in the Vulgate. The three instances in which it is mentioned in the Old Testament are illustrated by travellers and historians. It is first spoken of as used for cement by the builders in the plain of Shinar or Babylonia. (Genesis 11:3
) The bitumen pits in the vale of Siddim are mentioned in the ancient fragment of Canaanitish history, (Genesis 14:10
) and the ark of papyrus in which Moses was placed was made impervious to water by a coating of bitumen and pitch. (Exodus 2:3
) Herodotus, i. 179, tells us of the bitumen found at Is, the modern Heet
, a town of Babylonia, eight days journey from Babylon. (Bitumen, or asphalt, is "the product of the decomposition of vegetable and animal substances. It is usually found of a black or brownish-black color, externally not unlike coal, but it varies in a consistency from a bright, pitchy condition, with a conchoidal fracture, to thick, viscid masses of mineral tar." --Encyc. Brit. In this last state it is called in the Bible slime, and is of the same nature as our petroleum, but thicker, and hardens into asphalt. It is obtained in various places in Europe, and even now occasionally from the Dead Sea. --ED.)
SLIME; SLIME PITS [ISBE]
SLIME; SLIME PITS
- slim, slim'-pits (chemar; Septuagint asphaltos; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) bitumen; the Revised Version margin "bitumen"; compare Arabic chummar, "bitumen"; and compare chomer, "clay," "mortar"): In the account of the ark in Gen 6:14
, kopher Septuagint asphaltos; Vulgate: bitumen; compare Arabic kufr, "pitch") does not necessarily denote vegetable pitch, but may well mean bitumen. The same may be said of zepheth, "pitch" (compare Arabic zift, "pitch"), in Ex 2:3
and Isa 34:9
. The word "slime" occurs in the following passages: "And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar" (Gen 11:3
); "Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits" (Gen 14:10
, margin "bitumen pits"); "She took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch" (Ex 2:3
Bitumen is a hydrocarbon allied to petroleum and natural gas. It is a lustrous black solid, breaking with a conchoidal fracture, burning with a yellow flame, and melting when ignited. It is probably derived from natural gas and petroleum by a process of oxidation and evaporation, and its occurrence may be taken as a sign that other hydrocarbons are or have been present in the strata. It is found in small lumps and larger masses in the cretaceous limestone on the west side of the Dead Sea, and there is reason to believe that considerable quantities of it rise to the surface of the Dead Sea during earthquakes. In ancient times it was exported to Egypt to be used in embalming mummies. Important mines of it exist at Chasbeiya near Mt. Hermon and in North Syria. Springs of liquid bituminous matter exist in Mesopotamia, where according to Herodotus and other classical writers it was used as mortar with sun-dried bricks. Various conjectures have been made as to the part played by bitumen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Diodorus Siculus calls the Dead Sea limne asphalstitis, "lake of asphalt."
See SIDDIM; CITIES OF THE PLAIN.
Alfred Ely Day