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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Soap

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The word thus translated in the Auth. Version is in Hebrew borith. It occurs in two passages of Scripture—first, in , 'For though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap (borith), yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God;' and again, in , 'But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap (borith).' From neither of these passages does it distinctly appear whether the substance referred to by the name of borith was obtained from the mineral or from the vegetable kingdom. But it is evident that it was possessed of cleansing properties.

In the above passage of Jeremiah we have neter (niter) and borith (soap) indicated as being both employed for washing, or possessed of some cleansing properties; and yet, from occurring in the same passage, they must have differed in some respects. The niter is, without doubt, the natural carbonate of soda; and as this is alluded to in one member of the sentence, it becomes probable that the artificial carbonates may be alluded to in the other, as both were in early times employed by Asiatic nations for the purposes of washing.

Hence it is probable that the ashes of plants, called boruk and boreh by Asiatic nations, may be alluded to under the name of borith, as there is no proof that soap is intended, though it may have been known to the same people at very early periods. Still less is it probable that borax is meant, as has been supposed by some authors, apparently from the mere similarity of name.

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Soap'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/s/soap.html.

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