Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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zepheth (from a root "to flow" ) in its liquid state; chemar (from a root "to bubble up") solid; kopher, as used in covering (from a root "to cover") woodwork, to make it watertight (Genesis 6:14); asphalt, bitumen. The town Is (Hit), eight days' journey from Babylon, supplied from springs the bitumen which was used as mortar in building that city (Genesis 11:3; Herodotus i. 179). Athenaeus (2:5) mentions a lake near Babylon abounding in bitumen which floated on the water. Bitumen pits are still found at Hit on the western bank of Euphrates; so tenacious is it "that it is almost impossible to detach one brick from another" (Layard, Nin. and Bab.). Asphalt is opaque, and inflammable, bubbling up liquid from subterranean fountains and hardening by exposure. Pitch or bitumen made the papyrus ark of Moses watertight (Exodus 2:3).
        The Dead Sea was called Lacus Asphaltites from the asphalt springs at its southern end, the vale of Siddim (Genesis 14:3; Genesis 14:10). The Salt Sea after Sodom's destruction spread over this vale. At the shallow southern end of the sea are the chief deposits of salt and bitumen. The asphalt crust on the bed of the lake is cast out by earthquakes and other causes (Josephus B. J. 4:8, section 4; Tac. Hist. 5:6). The inflammable pitch (Isaiah 34:9) on all the plain, ignited by the lightning, caused "the smoke of the country to go up as the smoke of a furnace" (Genesis 19:28). Kopher means also a "ransom" or "atonement" (Job 33:21 margin). As the pitch covered the ark from the overwhelming waters, so the atonement covers the believer in Jesus from the blood of God's wrath. Kippurim, "atonement" (Exodus 29:36; Leviticus 23:27), and kapporeth, "mercy-seat," the covering of the ark and the law inside it (Romans 3:25; Romans 10:4), are related.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'pitch' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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