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Bricks are a clay-based building material that have been known from very early times. The ancient method of brick making involved digging and carrying the clay, softening with water by treading in clay pits, forming the bricks in molds (Egyptian bricks sometimes included straw as a reinforcing material), and then either drying them in the sun, or baking them in kills. The Hebrew word for brick meant to be (or become) white, which would imply that ancient bricks were of a light color.

Bricks are prominently mentioned in two of the most well-known places in Bible History, the Tower of Babel and the Israelites' slavery in Egypt:

The Tower Of Babel

"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there."

Tower of Babel "And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

"And The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

"So The Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city." (Genesis 11:1-8 RSV)

"Bricks Without Straw"

"So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor." (Exodus 1:13-14 RSV)

"But the king of Egypt said to them, "Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get to your burdens." And Pharaoh [see Egyptian Pharaohs and Who Was The Exodus Pharaoh?] said, "Behold, the people of the land are now many and you make them rest from their burdens!"

"The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks which they made heretofore you shall lay upon them, you shall by no means lessen it; for they are idle; therefore they cry, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid upon the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words."

"So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, "Thus says Pharaoh, 'I will not give you straw. Go yourselves, get your straw wherever you can find it; but your work will not be lessened in the least.'" So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble for straw." (Exodus 5:4-12 RSV)

Egyptian Bricks Without Straw Found

Modern archaeology has made numerous discoveries which confirm events recorded in The Bible, including bricks without straw at Pithon. Lower levels had good quality straw, middle levels had less (including much which was torn up by the roots, as someone in a rush to meet a quota would be inclined to do), and the top levels had no straw at all.

Fact Finder: Did King David have people that he conquered making bricks?
2 Samuel 12:29-31

This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not have idols?

2. Which of the Ten Commandments says to observe the Sabbath?

3. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not murder?

4. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not steal?

5. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not covet?

6. Which of the Ten Commandments says to have no other "gods"?

7. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not misuse God's Name?

8. Which of the Ten Commandments says to honor parents?

9. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not commit adultery?

10. Which of the Ten Commandments says to not lie?

For the answers to this September 26 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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