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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

(lebhenah): The ancient Egyptian word appears in the modern Egyptian Arabic toob. In Syria the sun-baked bricks are commonly called libn or lebin, from the same Semitic root as the Hebrew word.

Bricks are mentioned only a few times in the Bible. The story of how the Children of Israel, while in bondage in Egypt, had their task of brick-making made more irksome by being required to collect their own straw is one of the most familiar of Bible narratives (Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7, 10-19).

Modern excavations at Pithom in Egypt (Exodus 1:11) show that most of the bricks of which that store-city was built were made of mud and straw baked in the sun. These ruins are chosen as an example from among the many ancient brick structures because they probably represent the work of the very Hebrew slaves who complained so bitterly of their royal taskmaster. In some of the upper courses rushes had been substituted for straw, and still other bricks had no fibrous material. These variations could be explained by a scarcity of straw at that time, since, when there was a shortage in the crops, all the straw (Arabic, tibn) was needed for feeding the animals. It may be that when the order came for the workmen to provide their own straw they found it impossible to gather sufficient and still furnish the required number of bricks (Exodus 5:8). However, the quality of clay of which some of the bricks were made was such that no straw was needed.

Brickmaking in early Egyptian history was a government monopoly. The fact that the government pressed into service her Asiatic captives, among whom were the Children of Israel, made it impossible for independent makers to compete. The early bricks usually bore the government, stamp or the stamp of some temple authorized to use the captives for brick manufacture. The methods employed by the ancient Egyptians differ in no respect from the modern procedure in that country. The Nile mud is thoroughly slipped or mixed and then rendered more cohesive by the addition of chopped straw or stubble. The pasty mass is next worked into a mould made in the shape of a box without a bottom. If the sides of the mould have been dusted with dry earth it will easily slip off and the brick is allowed to dry in the sun until it becomes so hard that the blow of a hammer is often necessary to break it.

When the children of Israel emigrated to their new country they found the same methods of brickmaking employed by the inhabitants, methods which are still in vogue throughout the greater part of Palestine and Syria. In the interior of the country, especially where the building stone is scarce or of poor quality, the houses are made of sun-baked brick (libn). Frequently the west and south walls, which are exposed most to the winter storms, are made of hewn stone and the rest of the structure of bricks. When the brick-laying is finished the house is plastered inside and outside with the same material of which the bricks are made and finally whitewashed or painted with grey- or yellow-colored earth. The outer coating of plaster must be renewed from year to year. In some of the villages of northern Syria the brick houses are dome-shaped, looking much like beehives. In the defiant assertion of Isaiah 9:10 the superiority of hewn stone over bricks implied a greater difference in cost and stability than exists between a frame house and a stone house in western lands today.

In the buildings of ancient Babylonia burnt bricks were used. These have been found by modern excavators, which confirms the description of Genesis 11:3. Burnt bricks were rarely used in Egypt before the Roman period and in Palestine their use for building purposes was unknown. Specimens of partially burnt, glazed bricks have been found in Babylonia and recently in one of the Hittite mounds of northern Syria. These were probably used for decorative purposes only. If burnt bricks had been generally used in Palestine, races of them would have been found with the pottery which is so abundant in the ruins (see POTTERY).

The fact that unburnt bricks were so commonly used explains how the sites of such cities as ancient Jericho could have become lost for so many centuries. When the houses and walls fell they formed a heap of earth not distinguishable from the surrounding soil. The wood rotted and the iron rusted away, leaving for the excavator a few bronze and stone implements and the fragments of pottery which are so precious as a means of identification. The "tels" or mounds of Palestine and Syria often represent the ruins of several such cities one above the other.


H. A. Harper, The Bible and Modern Discoveries; Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians; Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt; Hilprecht, Recent Research in Bible Lands.

James A. Patch

Strong's Hebrew
4404. malben -- a brick mold, quadrangle
... 4403, 4404. malben. 4405 . a brick mold, quadrangle. Transliteration: malben
Phonetic Spelling: (mal-bane') Short Definition: brick. ...
/hebrew/4404.htm - 6k

3843. lebenah -- brick, tile
... 3842, 3843. lebenah. 3844 . brick, tile. Transliteration: lebenah Phonetic
Spelling: (leb-ay-naw') Short Definition: bricks. ... altar of brick, tile. ...
/hebrew/3843.htm - 6k

3835b. laban -- to make brick
... 3835a, 3835b. laban. 3836 . to make brick. Transliteration: laban Short
Definition: brick. Word Origin denominative verb from lebenah ...
/hebrew/3835b.htm - 5k

3835. laban -- to be white
... 3834, 3835. laban. 3835a . to be white. Transliteration: laban Phonetic Spelling:
(law-ban') Short Definition: brick. make brick, be made, make whiter ...
/hebrew/3835.htm - 5k


Concerning the Posterity of Adam, and the Ten Generations from Him ...
... destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence
and quantity of water, they made two pillars, [10] the one of brick, the other ...
/.../josephus/the antiquities of the jews/chapter 2 concerning the posterity.htm

Choosing the Tens
... Below in the still shadowy passages and interiors, speckled with fallen mortar,
lay chains, rubble of brick and chipped stone; splinters, flinders and odd ends ...
// yoke/chapter i choosing the tens.htm

From Egypt to Sinai.
... To cripple and crush them there was given them hard and exhaustive tasks of
brick making under cruel task-masters. There still remains ...
/.../tidwell/the bible period by period/chapter v from egypt to.htm

There Is, Let us Say, a Certain Filthy Rookery in Hoxton...
... Her therefore, runs up a row of tall bare tenements like beehives; and soon has
all the poor people bundled into their little brick cells, which are certainly ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 9 there is let.htm

June 12. "We Would See Jesus" (John xii. 21).
... My little child came to me once and said: "Papa, look at that golden sign across
the street a good while; now look at that brick wall and tell me what you see ...
/.../simpson/days of heaven upon earth /june 12 we would see.htm

Chapter Iii Precious Answers to Prayer
... repairing of the boiler was a questionable matter, on account of the greatness of
the leak; but, if not, nothing could be said of it, till the brick-chamber in ...
/.../muller/answers to prayer/chapter iii precious answers to.htm

Thanksgiving to God for Deliverance from the Evils Expected Owing ...
... Therefore also the Jews, whilst they were in bondage to work in clay and the
brick-making, when they saw Moses come to them, were not able to give heed to his ...
/.../chrysostom/on the priesthood/homily xi thanksgiving to god.htm

... The eldest brother, the brickmaker, found that every brick he turned out whole yielded
him a tiny copper coin"only copper"but a great many of these small ...
/.../ stories and religious classics/something.htm

Civilized Barbarism (Preached for the Bishop of London's Fund, at ...
... exceptions, then not merely the society of London, and the industry of London, and
the wealth of London, but the very buildings of London, the brick and the ...
/.../the water of life and other sermons/sermon xix civilized barbarism preached.htm

A New Creation
... You may build a brick house, if you please; but, build it as you like, it will be
a house of brick upon whatever principles of architecture it may be ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 61 1915/a new creation.htm

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(Genesis 11:3) The brick in use among the Jews were much larger than with us, being usually from 12 to 13 inches square and 3 1/2 inches thick; they thus possess more of the character of tiles. (Ezekiel 4:1) The Israelites, in common with other captives, were employed by the Egyptian monarchs in making bricks and in building. (Exodus 1:14; 5:7) Egyptian bricks were not generally dried in kilns, but in the sun. That brick-kilns were known is evident from (2 Samuel 12:31; Jeremiah 43:9) When made of the Nile mud they required straw to prevent cracking. [See STRAW]

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A block or clay tempered with water, sand, etc., molded into a regular form, usually rectangular, and sun-dried, or burnt in a kiln, or in a heap or stack called a clamp.

2. (n.) Bricks, collectively, as designating that kind of material; as, a load of brick; a thousand of brick.

3. (n.) Any oblong rectangular mass; as, a brick of maple sugar; a penny brick (of bread).

4. (n.) A good fellow; a merry person; as, you 're a brick.

5. (v. t.) To lay or pave with bricks; to surround, line, or construct with bricks.

6. (v. t.) To imitate or counterfeit a brick wall on, as by smearing plaster with red ocher, making the joints with an edge tool, and pointing them.

Brick (10 Occurrences)
... 2. (n.) Bricks, collectively, as designating that kind of material; as,
a load of brick; a thousand of brick. 3. (n.) Any oblong ...
/b/brick.htm - 15k

Brick-kiln (3 Occurrences)
Brick-kiln. Brickkiln, Brick-kiln. Brickkilns . Int. Standard Bible
Encyclopedia BRICK-KILN. brik'-kil, -kiln (malben): The ...
/b/brick-kiln.htm - 8k

Brick-making (2 Occurrences)
Brick-making. Brickmaking, Brick-making. Brickmould . Multi-Version
Concordance Brick-making (2 Occurrences). Exodus ...
/b/brick-making.htm - 7k

Kiln (5 Occurrences)
... 1. (n.) A large stove or oven; a furnace of brick or stone, or a heated chamber,
for the purpose of hardening, burning, or drying anything; as, a kiln for ...
/k/kiln.htm - 8k

Brickkiln (3 Occurrences)
... receive the wood or fuel for burning them. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
BRICK-KILN. brik'-kil, -kiln (malben): The Hebrew word is ...
/b/brickkiln.htm - 8k

Mortar (16 Occurrences)
... Genesis 11:3 They said one to another, "Come, let's make bricks, and burn them
thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. ...
/m/mortar.htm - 14k

Bed (142 Occurrences)
... lower beds. 9. (n.) A course of stone or brick in a wall. 10. (n.) The place
or material in which a block or brick is laid. 11. (n.) The ...
/b/bed.htm - 52k

Slime (6 Occurrences)
... zepheth, "pitch" (compare Arabic zift, "pitch"), in Exodus 2:3 and Isaiah 34:9.
The word "slime" occurs in the following passages: "And they had brick for stone ...
/s/slime.htm - 11k

Straw (21 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Used in brick-making (Exodus 5:7-18). ... Exodus 5:7 "You
shall no longer give the people straw to make brick, as before. ...
/s/straw.htm - 15k

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)
... Architecture: The architecture of Babylonia is influenced by the fact that the building
material, in this alluvial plain, had to be of brick, which was largely ...
/b/babylonia.htm - 75k

Bible Concordance
Brick (10 Occurrences)

Genesis 11:3 They said one to another, "Come, let's make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.

Exodus 1:14 and they made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field, all their service, in which they ruthlessly made them serve.

Exodus 5:7 "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick, as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves.

Exodus 5:14 The officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, "Why haven't you fulfilled your quota both yesterday and today, in making brick as before?"

Exodus 5:16 No straw is given to your servants, and they tell us,'Make brick!' and behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people."

2 Samuel 12:31 He brought forth the people who were therein, and put them under saws, and under iron picks, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick kiln: and he did so to all the cities of the children of Ammon. David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

Isaiah 65:3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens, and burning incense on bricks;

Jeremiah 43:9 Take great stones in your hand, and hide them in mortar in the brick work, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah;

Ezekiel 4:1 And thou, son of man, take thee a brick, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it a city, Jerusalem:

Nahum 3:14 Draw water for the siege. Strengthen your fortresses. Go into the clay, and tread the mortar. Make the brick kiln strong.



Brick used in Building: Babel

Brick: Altars

Brick: Cities in Egypt

Brick: Houses

Brick: Made by Israelites

Related Terms

Brick-kiln (3 Occurrences)

Brick-making (2 Occurrences)

Kiln (5 Occurrences)

Brickkiln (3 Occurrences)

Mortar (16 Occurrences)

Bed (142 Occurrences)

Slime (6 Occurrences)

Straw (21 Occurrences)

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)

Masonry (1 Occurrence)

Tower (74 Occurrences)

Beaten (73 Occurrences)

Heretofore (25 Occurrences)

Previously (44 Occurrences)

Confusion (71 Occurrences)

Tahpanhes (7 Occurrences)

Potter (14 Occurrences)

Pottery (11 Occurrences)

Babel (3 Occurrences)

Canaan (102 Occurrences)

Canaanites (63 Occurrences)

Babylon (270 Occurrences)

Fortified (79 Occurrences)

Fort (8 Occurrences)

Fortress (75 Occurrences)

Fortification (5 Occurrences)

Labor (181 Occurrences)

House (20110 Occurrences)

Cities (427 Occurrences)

Tongues (67 Occurrences)

Nineveh (23 Occurrences)

Pharaoh's (72 Occurrences)

Yesterday (13 Occurrences)

Quota (5 Occurrences)

Kir (11 Occurrences)

Kick (8 Occurrences)

Neighbour (139 Occurrences)

Ur (5 Occurrences)

Oven (22 Occurrences)

Jericho (59 Occurrences)

Labors (27 Occurrences)

Grain-crushers (2 Occurrences)

Wood-cutting (2 Occurrences)

Weights (14 Occurrences)

Wall (227 Occurrences)

Imposed (16 Occurrences)

Fortifications (7 Occurrences)

Forts (12 Occurrences)

Furnace (35 Occurrences)

Foremen (9 Occurrences)

Tar (3 Occurrences)

Taskmasters (7 Occurrences)

Tile (1 Occurrence)

Task-masters (6 Occurrences)

Tablets (31 Occurrences)

Tidal (2 Occurrences)

Tah'panhes (5 Occurrences)

Temper (14 Occurrences)

Tiling (1 Occurrence)

Thoroughly (48 Occurrences)

Task (37 Occurrences)

Terrace (1 Occurrence)

Ruthlessly (8 Occurrences)

Rigor (8 Occurrences)

Rigorously (2 Occurrences)

Rigour (5 Occurrences)

Resen (1 Occurrence)

Exactors (8 Occurrences)



Egyptians (108 Occurrences)

Defenses (8 Occurrences)

Drivers (11 Occurrences)

Mold (1 Occurrence)


Millo (9 Occurrences)

Moloch (2 Occurrences)

Molech (16 Occurrences)

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