The three Hebrew words so translated all represent the same object, viz., mineral pitch or asphalt in its different aspects. Asphalt is an opaque, inflammable substance which bubbles up from subterranean fountains in a liquid state, and hardens by exposure to the air, but readily melts under the influence of heat. In the latter state it is very tenacious, and was used as a cement in lieu of mortar in Babylonia ((Genesis 11:3) as well as for coating the outside of vessels, (Genesis 6:14) and particularly for making the papyrus boats of the Egyptians water-tight. (Exodus 2:3) The jews and Arabians got their supply in large quantities from the Dead Sea, which hence received its classical name of Lacus Asphaltites .
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