slim, slim’-pits (chemar; Septuagint asphaltos; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) bitumen; the
Bitumen is a hydrocarbon allied to petroleum and natural gas. It is a lustrous black solid, breaking with a conchoidal fracture, burning with a yellow flame, and melting when ignited. It is probably derived from natural gas and petroleum by a process of oxidation and evaporation, and its occurrence may be taken as a sign that other hydrocarbons are or have been present in the strata. It is found in small lumps and larger masses in the cretaceous limestone on the west side of the Dead Sea, and there is reason to believe that considerable quantities of it rise to the surface of the Dead Sea during earthquakes. In ancient times it was exported to Egypt to be used in embalming mummies. Important mines of it exist at Chasbeiya near Mt. Hermon and in North Syria. Springs of liquid bituminous matter exist in Mesopotamia, where according to Herodotus and other classical writers it was used as mortar with sun-dried bricks. Various conjectures have been made as to the part played by bitumen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Diodorus Siculus calls the Dead Sea limne asphalstitis, "lake of asphalt."
See SIDDIM; CITIES OF THE PLAIN.