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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Slime; Slime Pits

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slı̄m , slı̄m´pits ( חמר , ḥēmār ; Septuagint ἄσφαλτος , ásphaltos ; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) bitumen ; the Revised Version margin "bitumen"; compare Arabic ḥummar , "bitumen"; and compare חמר , ḥōmer , "clay," "mortar"): In the account of the ark in Genesis 6:14 , כּפר , kōpher Septuagint ἄσφαλτος , ásphaltos ; Vulgate: bitumen ; compare Arabic kufr , "pitch") does not necessarily denote vegetable pitch, but may well mean bitumen. The same may be said of זפת , zepheth , "pitch" (compare Arabic zift , "pitch"), in Exodus 2:3 and Isaiah 34:9 . The word "slime" occurs in the following passages: "And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar" (Genesis 11:3 ); "Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits" (Genesis 14:10 , margin "bitumen pits"); "She took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch" (Exodus 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 Ḥâsbeiya 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 λίμνη ἀσφαλτῖτις , lı́mnē asphaltı́tis , "lake of asphalt." See SIDDIM ; CITIES OF THE PLAIN .

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Slime; Slime Pits'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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