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BRICK-MAKING IN EGYPT.
Ezekiel is bid :—“Thus also, son of man, take a tile” (more properly a brick), "and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem ” (Ez. iv. 1).
Between the bulls and the lions,” Mr. Layard tells us, were invariably found a large collection of baked bricks, elaborately painted with figures of animals, and flowers, and with cuneiform characters. It is remarkable that on the back of these bricks, or on one of the sides not coloured, were rude designs in black paint or ink of men and animals.”—Nineveh, ii. 13.
The same reason which led to the use of bricks in Babylonia, prevailed in Egypt also. The northern part of that country, in which the children of Israel were located, is a vast alluvial plain, formed by the deposits of the river Nile. Stone was not to be had without great expense, on account of the distance at which it was found ; and hence the inhabitants naturally availed themselves of bricks as the best substitute. The manufacture of these bricks was imposed upon captives, and hence we read of the Israelites :- They built for Pharaoh treasure cities . . . and the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field” (Ex. i. 11—14). “And Pharaoh commanded .... the taskmasters of the people and their officers saying: Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore ; let them go and gather straw for themselves. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw" (Ex. v. 7. 12).
The Egyptian bricks were made of the mud of the Nile, which was not sufficiently cohesive without straw, and they were generally unburnt. Wilkinson informs us that :-“ The use of crude bricks baked in the sun was universal throughout the country, and the dry climate of Egypt was peculiarly suited to those simple materials. They had the recommendation of cheap
ness and even durability; and those made three thousand years ago, whether with or without straw,' are even now as firm and fit for use as when first put up by the Amunophs and Thothmes whose names they bear. When made of the Nile mud or alluvial deposit, they required straw to prevent their cracking; but those formed of clay (now called Háybeh) taken from the torrent beds on the edge of the desert, held together without straw."—Ancient Egyptians, ii. 194.
There are some interesting paintings still existing in Egypt, in which the process of brick-making by captives is depicted; we there see the peculiar way of carrying the hods of clay on the shoulder, to which the Psalmist refers, when he says: “I removed his shoulder from the burden, his hands were delivered from the pots” (Ps. lxxxi. 6). We also see the taskmaster standing over the workmen, armed either with a stick or a whip: so that the complaint of the Israelites was literally true :-"Behold thy servants are beaten ” (Ex. v. 16). Some of the bricks in Egypt were burnt in a kiln ; this was the case when they were used in places where they were exposed to wet. The notice of the
brickkiln,” however, in Jeremiah xliii. 9, appears to be erroneous, as it is hardly probable that brickkiln would be placed just in front of the king's palace : the term more probably refers to some projection in the porch of the palace, similar in shape to a brick-kiln.
In Palestine, where stone is abundant, there was no necessity for the use of bricks: yet we find that they used the “ brickkiln ”
as a means of punishment (2 Sam. xii. 31), and that the people occasionally built altars of brick instead of stone, as was ordered in the law. This practice is reprehended by the prophet Isaiah :“A people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face, that sacrificeth in gardens and burneth incense upon altars of brick” (Is. lxv. 3). The inferior houses alone were built of crude bricks, and sometimes simply of mud. This appears from the following passage
from Isaiah, where the prophet foretells the favourable change that should take place :- “ The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones” (Is. ix. 10). It has also been thought that Job refers to such when he says of man as compared with angels :—“How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay” (Job iv. 19); but perhaps he is here speaking metaphorically of the body, “the earthly house of this tabernacle Paul calls it.
Such houses were easily erected and as easily fell, and many striking passages of the prophets refer to this not uncommon occurrence, as a symbol of speedy and utter destruction. So Isaiah : “ Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant” (xxx. 13). So also Ezekiel, speaking of the delusive persuasions of false teachers :
“One built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter ; say unto them which daub it with untempered morter that it shall fall : there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and à stormy wind shall rend it” (xiii. 10, 11). And perhaps Amos marks the distinction between the great house built of stone and the small one of mud, when he says :—“Behold the Lord commandeth, and He will smite the great house with breaches (or rather ruin) and the little house with clefts” (vi. 11).
Hence even whole cities crumble to pieces and become mere heaps of ruins : of the wicked man, says Job :-" He dwelleth in desolate cities and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps” (xv. 28); and so it was predicted :" Damascus shall be a ruinous heap” (Is. xvii. 1); “Thou hast made of a city a heap ” (Is. xxv. 2); “Rabbah shall be a desolate heap ” (Jer. xlix. 2); and lastly, “I will make Samaria as an heap of the field” (Mic. i. 6).
The constant decay of the houses has been noticed by modern travellers :- Many of the villages in Bar
DECAY OF BUILDINGS.
bary “are made up in a careless, slovenly manner, with mud, stone, timber, hurdles, and such materials as are not the most durable, but the most easily procured.”—Shaw's Barbary, i. 42.
“When villages built of these bricks fall into rubbish, which is often the case, the roads are full of small particles of straw, extremely offensive to the eyes in a high wind. Village after village may be seen in Egypt, built of unburnt brick, crumbling to ruins, and giving place to new habitations.... In every part of Egypt we find the towns built upon the ruins, or rather rubbish of former habitations.”—JOWETT's Researches in the Mediterranean.
“When I was at Tozer," writes Dr. Shaw, “in December 1727, we had a small drizzling shower, that continued for the space of two hours; and so little provision was made against accidents of this kind, that severa of the houses, which are built only, as usual, with palm branches, mud, and tiles baked in the sun, corresponding perhaps to, and explanatory of the untempered mortar, fell down by imbibing the moisture of the shower. Nay, provided the drops had been either larger, or the shower of a longer continuance, or overflowing, the whole city would have undoubtedly dissolved and dropped to pieces.”-SHAW's Travels in Barbary, i. 250.
Another inconvenience connected with mud walls is their insecurity: they can be “dug through” with ease, and hence this expression answers to “breaking into” a house. The following passages illustrate this :-" In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime” (Job xxiv. 16): “And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall! Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall; and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here” (Ez. viii.
HOUSES IN HAURAN.
7-9); “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. ... where thieves break through and steal” (Matt. vi. 19); “But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” or to be dug through (Matt. xxiv. 43).
In some parts of Palestine even the poorer houses were built of stone. This is particularly the case in the remarkable district of Trachonitis, east of the Sea of Galilee, which forms a part of the modern Haurān. This region, it should be observed, abounds with basalt, and the houses, even to the very doors, are erected out of this material. The accounts of these ancient towns, given by modern travellers, are highly interesting : “ The ancient towns on the great plains of the Haurān are entirely built of stone. These fertile plains were peopled by a race dwelling in houses, as early as the time of Job, or even before, as in his day his sons and daughters feasted luxuriously in houses ; while 'the Chaldeans and Sabeans, who, like the present inhabitants of the neighbouring desert, the Bedouin Arabs, fell upon the inhabitants of the plains, and carried off their camels and flocks, smiting those who resisted with the edge of the sword, probably lived, as their successors at this moment do, in tents. Wherever, indeed, the cultivators of the soil were fixed, as in these towns of the Haurān, and led a settled life, as distinguished from the wanderers of the desert, their habitations must always have been of stone, from the great abundance of that material, and the total want of wood ; and buildings so coustructed, of low and massive proportions, with large and solid blocks, united, with careful and excellent workmanship, would endure as long as the most ancient structures now existing in any part of the globe.
“ The buildings are in themselves so strong, being