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Smith's Bible Dictionary

The Hebrew term borith is a general term for any substance of cleansing qualities. As, however, it appears in (Jeremiah 2:22) in contradistinction to nether , which undoubtedly means "natron" or mineral alkali, it is fair to infer that borith refers to vegetable alkali, or some kind of potash, which forms one of the usual ingredients in our soap. Numerous plants capable of yielding alkalies exist in Palestine and the surrounding countries; we may notice one named hubeibeh (the Salsola kali of botanists) found near the Dead Sea, the ashes of which are called el-kuli , from their strong alkaline properties.

ATS Bible Dictionary

Malachi 3:2, Hebrew, borith, the cleanser; in Jeremiah 2:22 distinguished from nitre, which see. It is well known that the ancient used certain vegetables and their ashes for the purpose of cleansing linen, etc. The ashes of seashore plants contain carbonate of potash. Combined with oil or fat the alkalies produced soap; but it is not known in what forms the Jews used them.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Jeremiah 2:22; Malachi 3:2; Hebrews borith), properly a vegetable alkali, obtained from the ashes of certain plants, particularly the salsola kali (saltwort), which abounds on the shores of the Dead Sea and of the Mediterranean. It does not appear that the Hebrews were acquainted with what is now called "soap," which is a compound of alkaline carbonates with oleaginous matter. The word "purely" in Isaiah 1:25 (R.V., "throughly;" marg., "as with lye") is lit. "as with bor." This word means "clearness," and hence also that which makes clear, or pure, alkali. "The ancients made use of alkali mingled with oil, instead of soap (Job 9:30), and also in smelting metals, to make them melt and flow more readily and purely" (Gesenius).
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A substance which dissolves in water, thus forming a lather, and is used as a cleansing agent. Soap is produced by combining fats or oils with alkalis or alkaline earths, usually by boiling, and consists of salts of sodium, potassium, etc., with the fatty acids (oleic, stearic, palmitic, etc.).

2. (v. t.) To rub or wash over with soap.

3. (v. t.) To flatter; to wheedle.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

sop (borith; the King James Version sope): Borith is a derivative of bor, "purity," hence, something which cleanses or makes pure. Soap in the modern sense, as referring to a salt of a fatty acid, for example, that produced by treating olive oil with caustic soda, was probably unknown in Old Testament times. Even today there are districts in the interior of Syria where soap is never used. Cooking utensils, clothes, even the body are cleansed with ashes. The ashes of the household fires are carefully saved for this purpose. The cleansing material referred to in Jeremiah 2:22 (compare Septuagint at the place, where borith is rendered by poia = "grass") and Malachi 3:2 was probably the vegetable lye called in Arabic el qali (the origin of English alkali). This material, which is a mixture of crude sodium and potassium carbonates, is sold in the market in the form of grayish lumps. It is produced by burning the desert plants and adding enough water to the ashes to agglomerate them. Before the discovery of Leblanc's process large quantities of qali were exported from Syria to Europe.

For washing clothes the women sprinkle the powdered qali over the wet garments and then place them on a flat stone and pound them with a wooden paddle. For washing the body, oil is first smeared over the skin and then qali rubbed on and the whole slimy mixture rinsed off with water. Qali was also used in ancient times as a flux in refining precious metals (compare Malachi 3:2). At the present time many Syrian soap-makers prefer the qali to the imported caustic soda for soap-making.

In Susanna (verse 17) is a curious reference to "washing balls" (smegmata).

James A. Patch

Strong's Hebrew
1287. borith -- lye, alkali, potash, soap
... 1286, 1287. borith. 1288 . lye, alkali, potash, soap. Transliteration: borith
Phonetic Spelling: (bo-reeth') Short Definition: soap. Word Origin fem. ...
/hebrew/1287.htm - 6k

1253. bor -- lye, potash
... never so, purely The same as bor; vegetable lye (from its cleansing); used as a
soap for washing, or a flux for metals -- X never so, purely. see HEBREW bor. ...
/hebrew/1253.htm - 5k

8562. tamruq -- a scraping, rubbing
... Or tamruq {tam-rook'}; or tamriyq {tam-reek'}; from maraq; properly, a scouring,
ie Soap or perfumery for the bath; figuratively, a detergent -- X cleanse ...
/hebrew/8562.htm - 6k


On Re-Reading My Protest, which I Honestly Think Much Needed...
... I do not attack the positive but the relative position of soap. ... If we want to give
poor people soap we must set out deliberately to give them luxuries. ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 48 on re-reading my.htm

These are the False Accusations; the Accusation of Classicism...
... There are so many of these public-school superstitions that I have here only space
for one of them, which may be called the superstition of soap. ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 38 these are the.htm

For this Deep and Disabling Reason Therefore, Its Cynical and ...
... that right or wrong the thing can be done; the factory is working, the wheels are
going around, the gentlemen are being produced, with their soap, cricket and ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 39 for this deep.htm

The Common Conception among the Dregs of Darwinian Culture is that ...
... The essential argument is "Specialists must be despots; men must be specialists.
You cannot have equality in a soap factory; so you cannot have it anywhere. ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 15 the common conception.htm

The Purifying Influence of Hope
... To take a very homely illustration"soap and water wash your hands clean, and what
you have to do is simply to rub the soap and water on to the hand, and ...
/.../the purifying influence of hope.htm

Religious and Social State.
... country. So are the "oil and washing balls" of v.17 (AV and RV); this last
term is peculiar, and is used apparently for soap. ... art. Soap). ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/religious and social state 2.htm

The Lord Coming to his Temple
... For he is like a refiner's fire, and like a fuller's soap,. ... III. The searching power
of it in general, expressed by a refiner's fire and by fuller's soap. IV. ...
// vol 1/sermon iv the lord coming.htm

The Blood of Sprinkling
... of God. Usually when we read of cleansing, we think merely of our common
process of removing stains by water and soap. But this ...
// way of peace/chapter v the blood of.htm

Now Let us Shew Briefly, if You Will, that These Things were ...
... For He doth come as the fire of a furnace and as fuller's soap: and He shall sit,
refining and purifying as it were gold and silver." But that thou mayest know ...
/.../34 now let us shew.htm

To the Rev. A. Brandram
... Is it soap?' I replied, 'Yes; it is soap to wash souls clean.' She demanded what
I meant; whereupon I told her that I carried cheap and godly books for sale. ...
/.../borrow/letters of george borrow/to the rev a brandram 56.htm

Soap (4 Occurrences)
... It does not appear that the Hebrews were acquainted with what is now called "soap,"
which is a compound of alkaline carbonates with oleaginous matter. ...
/s/soap.htm - 10k

Fuller's (4 Occurrences)
... Fuller's soap. ... Mention is made (Proverbs 25:20; Jeremiah 2:22) of nitre and also
(Malachi 3:2) of soap (Hebrews borith) used by the fuller in his operations. ...
/f/fuller's.htm - 11k

Fuller (5 Occurrences)
... This art is one of great antiquity. Mention is made of "fuller's soap"
(Malachi 3:2), and of "the fuller's field" (2 Kings 18:17). ...
/f/fuller.htm - 10k

Lye (4 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) A strong caustic alkaline solution of potassium
salts, obtained by leaching wood ashes. It is much used in making soap, etc. ...
/l/lye.htm - 7k

Wash (105 Occurrences)
... The "washing balls" of Susanna verse 17 (smegma, a very rare word) were of soap.
See SOAP. Burton Scott Easton. Multi-Version Concordance Wash (105 Occurrences) ...
/w/wash.htm - 45k

Soar (5 Occurrences)

/s/soar.htm - 8k

Soaked (7 Occurrences)

/s/soaked.htm - 8k

Washing (56 Occurrences)
... 24. The "washing balls" of Susanna verse 17 (smegma, a very rare word) were
of soap. See SOAP. Burton Scott Easton. WASHING OF FEET. ...
/w/washing.htm - 38k

Nitre (2 Occurrences)
... (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT). Jeremiah 2:22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take
thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. ...
/n/nitre.htm - 9k

Niter (1 Occurrence)
... Jeremiah 2:22 For though thou shalt wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap,
yet thy iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. (WBS). ...
/n/niter.htm - 6k

Soap (4 Occurrences)

Job 9:30
If I am washed with snow water, and make my hands clean with soap;

Isaiah 1:25
And my hand will again be on you, washing away what is unclean as with soap, and taking away all your false metal;

Jeremiah 2:22
For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me, says the Lord Yahweh.

Malachi 3:2
"But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like launderer's soap;



Soap: A Washing Compound

Related Terms

Fuller's (4 Occurrences)

Fuller (5 Occurrences)

Lye (4 Occurrences)

Wash (105 Occurrences)

Soar (5 Occurrences)

Soaked (7 Occurrences)

Washing (56 Occurrences)

Nitre (2 Occurrences)

Niter (1 Occurrence)

Launderer's (1 Occurrence)

Wool (34 Occurrences)

Impurities (7 Occurrences)

Fullers (4 Occurrences)

Trachonitis (1 Occurrence)

Refiner's (1 Occurrence)

Metal-tester's (1 Occurrence)

Medicine (4 Occurrences)

Purity (16 Occurrences)

Pure (160 Occurrences)

Purely (4 Occurrences)

Bason (3 Occurrences)

Bar (27 Occurrences)

Cleaner's (1 Occurrence)

Cake (25 Occurrences)


Soft (36 Occurrences)

Stain (6 Occurrences)

Smelt (3 Occurrences)

Soda (3 Occurrences)

Appearing (20 Occurrences)

Refiner (10 Occurrences)

Basin (37 Occurrences)

Joppa (14 Occurrences)

Appeareth (31 Occurrences)

Purified (44 Occurrences)

Faced (32 Occurrences)

Evil-doing (106 Occurrences)

Appears (38 Occurrences)

Olive (61 Occurrences)

Sovereign (209 Occurrences)

Affirmation (335 Occurrences)

Shechem (61 Occurrences)

Tree (245 Occurrences)

Metal (69 Occurrences)

Declares (378 Occurrences)

Multiply (98 Occurrences)

Hardness (11 Occurrences)

Endure (90 Occurrences)

Washed (113 Occurrences)

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