See PITCH, and SEA 3.
chemar. Septuagint asphalte, "bitumen" (Ge 11:3). Herodotus (i. 179) mentions that hot bitumen and burned bricks were used for building the walls of Babylon; the bitumen from the river Is falling into Euphrates not far from Babylon. As the bitumen is found only here and there among the ruins, chiefly toward the basement, it was probably used only where they wished to counter. act moisture. The Dead Sea, from its abounding in asphalte, is called "the Asphalte Lake." The vale of Siddim was full of pits of it (Ge 14:10). Moses' mother made the ark watertight with pitch and "slime" (asphalt; Speaker's Commentary Ex 2:3, makes it mud to bind the papyrus stalks together, and to make the surface smooth for the infant).
The word is chemar, and signifies 'bitumen.' It is found on the shores of the Salt Sea and elsewhere in SLIME-PITS. When mixed with tar it forms a hard cement impervious to water. Ge 11:3; Gen.14:10; Ex 2:3.
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.
The bitumen pits in the vale of Siddim are mentioned in the ancient fragment of Canaanitish history,
and the ark of papyrus in which Moses was placed was made impervious to water by a coating of bitumen and pitch.
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.)