[for building] stands in the Auth. Vers. for two Heb. words: חֹמֶר (cho'mer, prop. red "clay," as sometimes rendered), cement, of lime and sand (Ge 11:3; Ex 1:14), also potter's clay (Isa 41:25; Na 3:14); עָפָר (aphar', prob. whitish "dust," as usually rendered), mud or clay, used as a cement in the walls of buildings (Le 14:42,45). In Eze 13:10 the expression occurs, "One built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar" (there is no word in the original answering to this last), which the Targum and the Vulgate seem to understand not of plaster, but of the cement used in uniting the materials of a wall, rendering it "clay without straw," clay and straw, well mixed together, being understood to have been the ordinary cement of Eastern buildings. There is no doubt that the Hebrews sometimes plastered their walls; and that kind of plaster now most common in the East is made with the same materials as the cob-walls, sun-dried bricks and mortar, namely, clay and straw mixed together, the straw such as they give to their cattle, chopped and beaten small, and serving the same purpose as the ox-hair which our plasterers mix with their plaster. This requires to be well tempered, which is generally done by long-continued treading or beating (Kitto, Pict. Bible, note ad loc.). SEE BRICK. Mr. Rich, speaking of the Birs Nimroud at Babylon, says, "The fire-burned bricks of which it is built have inscriptions on them, and so excellent is the cement, which appears to be lime-mortar, that it is nearly impossible to extract one Whole." SEE DWELLING. "Omitting iron cramps, lead, SEE HANDICRAFT, and the instances in which large stones are found in close apposition without cement, the various compacting substances used in Oriental buildings appear to be: (1) bitumen, as in the Babylonian structures; (2) common mud or moistened clay; (3) a very firm cement compounded of sand, ashes, and lime, in the proportions respectively of 1, 2, 3, well pounded, sometimes mixed and sometimes coated with oil, so as to form a surface almost impenetrable to wet or the weather. SEE PLASTER. In Assyrian, and also Egyptian brick buildings, stubble or straw, as hair or wool among ourselves, was added to increase the tenacity (Shaw, Trav. page 206; Volney, Trav. 2:436; Chardin, Voy. 4:116). If the materials were bad in themselves, as mere mud would necessarily be, or insufficiently mixed, or, as the Vulgate seems to understand (Eze 13:10), if straw were omitted, the mortar or cobwall would be liable to crumble under the influence of wet weather. (See Shaw, Trav. page 136, and Gesenius, Thesaur. page 1515, s.v. תָּפֵּלa word connected with the Arabic tufal, a substance resembling pipe-clay, believed by Burckhardt to be the detritus of the felspar of granite, and used for taking stains out of cloth; Burckhardt, Syria, page 488; Mishna, Pesach, 10:3.) Wheels for grinding chalk or lime for mortar, closely resembling our own machines for the same purpose, are in use in Egypt (Niebuhr, Voy. 1:122, pl. 17; Burckhardt, Nubia, ) pages 82, 97, 102, 140; Hasselquist, Trav. page 90)." SEE MASON. Modern Orientals have several materials for mortar superior to bitumen. These consist of three kinds of calcareous earth found abundantly in the desert west of the Euphrates. The first, called niura, is, in present use, mixed with ashes, and employed as a coating for the lower parts of walls in baths and other places liable to dampness. Another, called by the Turks karej, and by the Arabs jus, is also found in powder mixed with indurated pieces of the same substance and round pebbles. This forms even now the common cement of the country and constitutes the mortar generally found in the burned brickwork of the most ancient remains. When good, the bricks cemented by it cannot well be detached without being broken, while those laid in bitumen can easily be separated. The third sort, called borak, is a substance resembling gypsum, and is founding large lumps of an earthy appearance, which, when burned, form an excellent plaster or whitewash. Pure clay or mud is also used as a cement; but this is exclusively with the sun-dried bricks (Kitto, Pict. Bible, note on Ge 11:3). SEE CLAY; seE LIME.

Bible concordance for MORTAR.

Definition of mortar

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