From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Brick . The use of sun-dried bricks as building material in OT times, alongside of the more durable limestone, is attested both by the excavations and by Scripture references (see House). The process of brick-making shows the same simplicity in every age and country. Suitable clay is thoroughly moistened, and reduced to a uniform consistency by tramping and kneading (  Nahum 3:14 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘go into the clay, and tread the mortar’). It then passes to the brick-moulder, who places the right quantity in his mould, an open wooden frame with one of its four sides prolonged as a handle, wiping off the superfluous clay with his hand. The mould is removed and the brick left on the ground to dry in the sun. Sometimes greater consistency was given to the clay by mixing it with chopped straw and the refuse of the threshing-floor, as related in the familiar passage   Exodus 5:7-19 . As regards the daily ‘tale of bricks’ there referred to, an expert moulder in Egypt to-day is said to be able to turn out no fewer than ‘about 3000 bricks’ per diem (Vigouroux, Dict. de la Bible , i. 1932). The Egyptian bricks resembled our own in shape, while those of Babylonia were generally as broad as they were long. According to Flinders Petrie, the earliest Palestine bricks followed the Babylonian pattern.

There is no evidence in OT of the making of kiln-burnt bricks, which was evidently a foreign custom to the author of  Genesis 11:3 . The brickkiln of   2 Samuel 12:31 ,   Nahum 3:14 is really the brick-mould (so RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). In the obscure passage   Jeremiah 43:9 RV [Note: Revised Version.] has brickwork . A curious ritual use of bricks as incense-altars is mentioned in   Isaiah 65:3 .

Reference may also be made to the use of clay as a writing material, which was introduced into Palestine from Babylonia, and, as we now know, continued in use in certain quarters till the time of Hezekiah at least. Plans of buildings, estates, and cities were drawn on such clay tablets, a practice which illustrates the command to Ezekiel to draw a plan of Jerusalem upon a tils or clay brick ( Ezekiel 4:1 , see the elaborate note by Haupt in ‘Ezekiel’ ( PB [Note: B Polychrome Bible.] ), 98 ff.).

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

The earliest were those used in building Babel, of clay burned in the fire.  Genesis 11:3, "Let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly (margin burn them to a burning). And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar." So Herodotus states that in building Babylon's walls the clay dug out of the ditch was made into bricks, being burnt in kilns. The bricks were cemented with hot bitumen (asphalt), and at every thirtieth row reeds were stuffed in. The materials were ready to their hands, clay and bitumen bubbling up from the ground. But in Assyria and Egypt the bricks are sundried, not fireburnt, though in  Jeremiah 43:9 a brick kiln is mentioned in Egypt.

The Babylonian are larger than English bricks, being about 13 in. square, and 3 1/2 in. thick; more like our tiles, and often enameled with patterns (compare  Ezekiel 4:1); such have been found at Nimrud. The Babylonians used to record astronomical observations on tiles. Nebuchadnezzar's buildings superseded those of his predecessors; hence, most of the Babylonian bricks bear his name m cuneiform character. The Egyptian are from 15 to 20 in. long, 7 wide, 5 thick. Those of clay from the torrent beds near the desert need no straw, and are as solid now as when put up m the reigns of the Egyptian kings before the Exodus. Those made of Nile mud need straw to prevent cracking; and frequently a layer of reeds at intervals acted as binders.

In the paintings on the tomb of Rekshara, an officer of Thothmes III (1400 B.C.), captives, distinguished from the natives by color, are represented as forced by taskmasters to make brick; the latter armed with sticks are receiving "the tale of bricks." This maybe a picture of the Israelites in their Egyptian bondage; at least it strikingly illustrates it. In Assyria artificial mounds, encased with limestone blocks, raised the superstructure 30 or 40 feet above the level of the plain. The walls of crude brick were cased with gypsum slabs to the height of 10 feet; kiln-burned bricks cased the crude bricks from the slabs to the top of the wall. The brick kiln is mentioned in David's time as in use in Israel ( 2 Samuel 12:31); they in Isaiah's time ( Isaiah 65:3) substituted altars of brick for the unhewn stone which God commanded.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

The task of brick making was hard labor. It involved digging and moving heavy clay. Clay required softening with water which was done by treading clay pits. After molding the bricks of approximately 2 by 4 by 8 inches, they were dried in the sun or in kilns, (ovens) for fire-hardened bricks. The tower of Babel ( Genesis 11:3 ), made of bricks, had mortar of slime, a tar-like substance. Later, because of famine, Joseph moved his family to Egypt ( Genesis 46:6 ). The twelve families multiplied greatly in 430 years. A new Pharaoh who “knew not Joseph” ( Exodus 1:6-8 ) enslaved the Jews. They built storehouse cities of brick in Pithom and Ramses. Egyptian bricks were sometimes mixed with straw. When Moses confronted Pharaoh for Israel's freedom, the angered Pharaoh increased his demands of the slaves. They must produce their same brick quotas and gather their own straw. Both straw-made bricks and bricks of pure clay have been found at Pithom and Ramses. When David conquered the Ammorites, he required they make bricks ( 2 Samuel 12:31 ). Isaiah ( Isaiah 65:3 ) condemned Israel for their pagan-like practice of offering incense on altars of brick.

Lawson Hatfield

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [4]

 Genesis 11:3 (c) This is a type of man-made religious programs which lack the consistency, strength and durability of the Rock of Ages. No religion of any kind that has its origin in the mind of a man or a woman will pass GOD's judgment. Salvation is of the Lord, and not of some group of men or women. Salvation is of the Jews, and therefore cannot come through any Gentile source. All false religions are as "bricks." They are designed and conceived in human minds and are not based on the Word of GOD, nor the will of GOD.

 Isaiah 9:10 (b) Israel found that if their first efforts in following idols should fail, then they would devise ways and means of sinning in a more durable and lasting way.

 Isaiah 65:3 (b) Here we find a picture of the wickedness of Israel. They should have made altars of stone. Stones are made by GOD. Instead of that they made altars of brick, and bricks are made by men. They substituted their own works (bricks), for and instead of GOD's works (stones). (See also  Exodus 20:25).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Brick.  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;  Exodus 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 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Brick. In Scripture bricks are frequently and early mentioned, as well as the material with which they were cemented.  Genesis 11:3. Both the "slime" or bitumen, and the clay of which the bricks were formed, were abundant in the Mesopotamian plain. Bricks appear to have been, in Egypt and at Nineveh, very generally sun-dried: for the Babylonian buildings they were more commonly burnt in kilns. The clay was sometimes mixed with chopped straw to increase the tenacity and compactness of the bricks; and this was the more needful when the material was the Kile mud.  Exodus 1:14;  Exodus 5:6-19. Egyptian bricks, with dates upon them, are sail preserved as fit for use as when they were first made. They are of a large size, varying from 14¼ to 20 inches in length; 6½ to 8¾ inches in breadth; and in thickness 4½ to 7 inches.

Webster's Dictionary [7]

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

(2): (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.

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

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

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

(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.

King James Dictionary [8]

BRICK, n. L. imbrex, a gutter-tile, from imber, a shower, which is probably a compound, of which the last syllable is from whence.

A mass of earth, chiefly clay, first moistened and made fine by grinding or treading, then formed into a long square in a mold, dried and baked or burnt in a kiln used in buildings and walls.

1. A loaf shaped like a brick.

BRICK, To lay or pave with bricks.

1. To imitate or counterfeit a brick wall on plaster,by smearing it with red ocher and making the joints with an edge-tool, filling them with fine plaster.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

(לבנה , lebhēnāh ): 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 ,  Exodus 5:10-19 ).

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  ; Hilprext, Recent Research in Bible Lands .