Plaster, Masons

Plaster, Mason's (גַּיר, gir, so called from its efervescence, lime; Sept. κονία; Da 5; Da 5; "chalk," Isa 27:9; also שַׂיד, sid, from its boiling, lime, De 27:2,4; "lime," Isa 28:12; Am 2:1; as a verb, טוּחִ, tua-ch, to smear, Le 14:42-43,48; elsewhere "daub," etc.). The mode of making plaster cement has been described elsewhere. SEE MORTAR. Plaster is mentioned on three occasions in Scripture:

1. Where, when a house was infected with "leprosy" (Le 14:42,48), the priest was ordered to take away the portion of infected wall and replaster it (Michaelis, Laws of Moses, § 211, 3, 297-305, ed. Smith). SEE HOUSE; SEE LEPROSY.

2. The words of the law were ordered to be engraved on Mount Ebal on stones which had been previously coated with plaster (De 27:2,4; Jos 8:32), the pillars being covered with plaster, and the law written on this (see Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 204 sq.). Michaelis, however (vol. 1, bk. 3), supposes that the words were cut in stone and plaster afterwards put upon it, that when the plaster should fall off the words might still be legible. Of this, however, no evidence appears. The process here mentioned was probably of a similar kind to that adopted in Egypt for receiving bass-reliefs. The wall was first made smooth, and its interstices, if necessary, filled up with plaster. When the figures had been drawn, and the stone adjacent cut away so as to leave them in relief, a coat of lime whitewash was laid on, and followed by one of varnish after the painting of the figures was complete. In the case of the natural rock the process was nearly the same. The ground was covered with a thick layer of fine plaster, consisting of lime and gypsum, carefully smoothed and polished. Upon this a coat of lime whitewash was laid, and on it the colors were painted, and set by means of glue or wax. The whitewash appears in most instances to have been made of shell-limestone not much burned, which of itself is tenacious enough without glue or other binding material (Long, quoting from Belzoni, Eg. Ant. 2, 49, 50). At Behistun, in Persia, the surface of the inscribed rock-tablet was covered with a varnish to preserve it from weather; but it seems likely that in the case of the Ebal tablets the inscription was cut while the plaster was still moist (Lavard, Nineveh, 2, 188; Vaux, Nin. cand Persep. p. 172). SEE STONE.

3. It was probably a similar coating of cement on which the fatal letters were traced by the mystic hand "on the plaster of the wall" of Belshazzar's palace at Babylon (Da 5:5). We here obtain an incidental confirmation of the Biblical narrative. For while at Nineveh the walls are paneled with alabaster slabs, at Babylon, where no such material is found, the builders were content to cover their tiles or bricks with enamel or stucco, fitly termed plaster, fit for receiving ornamental designs (Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 529; Died. 2, 8). SEE BRICKS.

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