translated bitumen 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.)
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