From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Smith's Bible Dictionary [1]

Clay. As The Sediment Of Water Remaining In Pits or In Streets, the word is used frequently in the Old Testament,  Psalms 18:42;  Isaiah 57:20;  Jeremiah 38:6, and in the New Testament,  John 9:6, A Mixture Of Sand or Dust With Spittle. It is also found in the sense of potter's clay.  Isaiah 41:25.

The great seat of the pottery of the present day in Palestine is Gaza, where are made the vessels in dark-blue clay so frequently met with. Another use of clay was for sealing.  Job 38:14. Our Lord's tomb may have been thus sealed,  Matthew 27:66, as also the earthen vessel containing the evidences of Jeremiah's purchase.  Jeremiah 32:14. The seal used for public documents was rolled on the moist clay, and the tablet was, then, placed in the fire and baked.

King James Dictionary [2]

CLAY, n.

1. The name of certain substances which are mixtures of silex and alumin, sometimes with lime, magnesia, alkali and metallic oxyds. A species of earths which are firmly coherent, weighty, compact, and hard when dry, but stiff, viscid and ductile when moist, and smooth to the touch not readily diffusible in water, and when mixed, not readily subsiding in it. They contract by heat. Clays absorb water greedily, and become soft, but are so tenacious as to be molded into any shape, and hence they are the materials of bricks and various vessels, domestic and chimical. 2. In poetry and in scripture, earth in general. 3. In scripture, clay is used to express frailty, liableness to decay and destruction.

They that dwell in houses of clay.  Job 4 .


1. To cover or manure with clay. 2. To purify and whiten with clay, as sugar.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Πηλός (Strong'S #4081 — Noun Masculine — pelos — pay-los' )

"clay," especially such as was used by a mason or potter, is used of moist "clay," in  John 9:6,11,14-15 , in connection with Christ's healing the blind man; in  Romans 9:21 , of potter's "clay," as to the potter's right over it as an illustration of the prerogatives of God in His dealings with men.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [4]

 Isaiah 45:9 (b) This is typical of human beings who are shaped and molded in the hands of the Lord. (See also  Isaiah 64:8).

 Jeremiah 18:6 (a) It represents Israel as a nation in the hands of the Lord for Him to alter, mold and make as He pleases.

 Daniel 2:42 (b) Here the "clay" represents the friability and inconstancy of the nations at the end of the age. They will be easily broken and will have little cohesion with other nations as clay is easily broken and will not adhere to iron.

 John 9:6 (c) This probably indicates the fact that the Lord shuts our eyes effectually to the things of this earth that He may open them to see His face and rejoice in His presence, and enjoy spiritual realities.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

Tough plastic earth, containing silica and alumina. Used for making pottery in Palestine ( Jeremiah 18:2;  Jeremiah 18:6). Vessels of dark blue clay are still made at Gaza. Used by Jesus in curing the blind man ( John 9:6), a mixture of dust and spittle. Doors are sealed with clay in the East, to facilitate detection of thieves. Wine jars were so sealed. It may have been with clay our Lord's tomb, and the earthen vessel with the proofs of Jeremiah's purchase, were sealed ( Matthew 27:66;  Jeremiah 32:14). At Koyunjik fine clay cylinders with Assyrian impressions have been found, which were made by rolling the seals on the moist clay, which was then baked in the fire.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Isaiah 57:20 Jeremiah 38:60 John 9:6 Isaiah 41:25 Nahum 3:14 Jeremiah 18:1-6 Romans 9:21 Job 38:14 Jeremiah 32:14 Matthew 27:66 Genesis 11:3 1 Kings 7:46 2 Chronicles 4:17

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

Designed for earthenware was trodden by the feet to mix it well,  Isaiah 41:25 , was molded on a wheel, and then baked in a kiln,  Jeremiah 18:3   43:9 . The potter's art is referred to in Scripture to illustrate man's dependence upon God,  Isaiah 64:8   Romans 9:21 . See  Job 38:14 . The bricks of Babylon are found marked with a large seal or stamp, and modern travellers find the locks of doors in eastern khans and granaries sealed on the outside with clay.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): (n.) A soft earth, which is plastic, or may be molded with the hands, consisting of hydrous silicate of aluminium. It is the result of the wearing down and decomposition, in part, of rocks containing aluminous minerals, as granite. Lime, magnesia, oxide of iron, and other ingredients, are often present as impurities.

(2): (n.) Earth in general, as representing the elementary particles of the human body; hence, the human body as formed from such particles.

(3): (v. t.) To cover or manure with clay.

(4): (v. t.) To clarify by filtering through clay, as sugar.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [9]

חמר , is often mentioned in Scripture, nor is it necessary to explain the various references to what is so well known. It may be remarked, however, that clay was used for sealing doors. Norden and Pococke observe, that the inspectors of the granaries in Egypt, after closing the door, put their seal upon a handful of clay, with which they cover the lock. This may help to explain  Job 38:14 , in which the earth is represented as assuming form and imagery from the brightness of the rising sun, as rude clay receives a figure from the impression of a seal or signet.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

CLAY . See Pottery.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

See Potter and Predestination.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

is the rendering of several words, more or less accurately, in certain passages in the English Bible: טַיט , Tit, prop. Mud ( Psalms 40:2), i.e. mire (as often rendered), hence potter's Clay, as being trodden fine ( Isaiah 41:25;  Nahum 3:14); corresponding to the Gr. Πηλός ( John 9:6;  John 9:11;  John 9:14-15;  Romans 9:21;  Wisdom of Solomon 7:9;  Wisdom of Solomon 15:7-8;  Sirach 33:13;  Sirach 38:30; Bel 7), as soiling or plastic; and חֹמֶר , Cho'Mer, reddish Loam ( Job 4:19; ( Job 13:12; ( Job 27:16; (Job 33:67), e.g. potter's clay ( Isaiah 29:16;  Isaiah 45:9;  Jeremiah 18:4;  Jeremiah 18:6), as used for sealing ( Job 38:14), or for cement of building ("mortar,"  Genesis 11:3), so for making brick ( Exodus 1:14; "mortar,"  Isaiah 41:25;  Nahum 3:14); also common street "mire" ( Isaiah 10:6;  Job 30:19; "clay,"  Job 10:9). Other terms so rendered less correctly are: מֶלֶט , me'let, mortar for plastering ( Jeremiah 43:9); and the Chald. חֲסִ , Chasaph', Sherd, of burnt clay-ware ( Daniel 2:23). The word עָב , ab ("clay,"  2 Chronicles 4:17), or מִעֲבֶה , Madbeh ( " clay,"  1 Kings 7:47), denotes Darkness or Density of soil, i.e. perh. depth of earth; and the merely apparent compound עִבְטַיט , Abtit ("thick clay"), in  Habakkuk 2:6, signifies rather a Pledging of goods to an extortioner. (See Mineralogy).

"Clay is a sedimentary earth, tough and plastic, arising from the disintegration of felspar and similar minerals, and always containing silica and alumina combined in variable proportions. As the sediment of water remaining in pits or in streets, the word is used frequently in the O.T. (e.g.  Isaiah 57:20;  Jeremiah 38:6;  Psalms 18:42), and in the N.T. ( John 9:6), a mixture of sand or dust with spittle. It is also found in the sense of potter's clay ( Isaiah 41:25), the elegant and useful forms assumed by the rude material under his hands supplying a significant emblem of the Divine power over the destinies of man ( Isaiah 64:8;  Jeremiah 18:1-6;  Romans 9:21). The alluvial soils of Palestine would no doubt supply material for pottery, a manufacture which we know was, as it still is, carried on in the country ( Jeremiah 18:2;  Jeremiah 18:6); but our knowledge on the subject is so small as to afford little or no means of determining, and the clay of Palestine, like that of Egypt, is probably more loam than clay (Birch, Hist. Of Pottery, 1, 55, 152). (See Pottery).

Bituminous shale, convertible into clay, is said to exist largely at the source of the Jordan, and near the Dead Sea, also near Bethshan (Burckhardt, 2:593; Russegger, 3:278, 253, 254). The great seat of the pottery of the present day in Palestine is Gaza, where are made the vessels in dark blue clay so frequently met with. The Talmud (Aboda Sara, 2, 3) mentions a peculiar kind of luteous material called Hadrian's clay' ( חרס הררייני ). The use of clay in brickmaking was also common. See Brick Another use of clay was in sealing ( Job 38:14). The bricks of Assyria and Egypt are most commonly found stamped either with a die or with marks made by the fingers of the maker. Wine-jars in Egypt were sometimes sealed with clay; mummy-pits were sealed with the same substance, and remains of clay are still found adhering to the stone door-jambs. Our Lord's tomb may have been thus sealed ( Matthew 27:66), as also the earthen vessel containing the evidences of Jeremiah's purchase ( Jeremiah 32:14). So also in Assyria, at Kouyunjik, pieces of fine clay have been found bearing impressions of seals with Assyrian, Egyptian, and Phoenician devices. The seal used for public documents was rolled on the moist clay, and the tablet was then placed in the fire and baked. The practice of sealing doors with clay to facilitate detection in case of malpractice is still common in the East (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1, 15, 48; 2, 364; Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 153, 158, 608; Herod. 2, 38; Harmer, Obs. 4, 376)" (Smith, s.v.). Norden and Pococke observe that the inspectors of the granaries in Egypt, after closing the door, put their seal upon a handful of clay, with which they cover the lock. (See Seal).

Clay was also used, no doubt, in primitive times for Mortar, for the same term is employed for both ( Genesis 11:3). Houses are built of clay mixed with sand in countries where stones are not to be found. (See Mortar). In  Job 4:19, it is said of mankind that they dwell in huts of clay, either alluding to such dwellings, or to the "clay tenements" of the body (compare  2 Corinthians 5:1). Our Savior anointed the eyes of the blind man with a salve made of clay and spittle ( John 9:6), a simple preparation, which, it would be manifest to all, could have in itself no curative virtue. The "clay ground" (literally Thickness Of Soil ) in which Solomon caused the large vessels of the Temple to be cast ( 1 Kings 7:46;  2 Chronicles 4:17) was a compact loam, of a quality or rather extent, depth some 28 feet; (See Jachin) not to be found elsewhere in Palestine, which is generally rocky or sandy. (See Metallurgy).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

klā ( חמר , ḥōmer , חסף , ḥăṣaph , טיט , ṭı̄ṭ , מלט , meleṭ , עבי , ‛ăbhı̄ , מעבה , ma‛ăbheh , עבטיט , ‛abhṭı̄ṭ  ; πηλός , pēlós , "wet clay," "mud"): True clay, which is a highly aluminous soil, is found in certain localities in Palestine,and is used in making pottery. The Hebrew and Greek words, as well as the English "clay," are, however, used loosely for any sticky mud. In making mud bricks, true clay is not always used, but ordinary soil is worked up with water and mixed with straw, molded and left to dry in the sun. Ḥōmer (compare ḥēmār , "slime" or "bitumen") is rendered both "clay" and "mortar." Ṭı̄ṭ is rendered "clay" or "mire." In  Isaiah 41:25 we have: "He shall come upon rulers as upon mortar ( ḥōmer ), and as the potter treadeth clay" ( ṭı̄ṭ ). In  Nahum 3:14 , "Go into the clay ( ṭı̄ṭ ), and tread the mortar ( ḥōmer ); make strong the brickkiln" (i.e. make the walls ready to withstand a siege). Ḥăṣaph is the clay of the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream ( Daniel 2:33 ). Meleṭ occurs only in  Jeremiah 43:9 , where we find: the King James Version, "Take great stones ... and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln"; the Revised Version (British and American), "hide them in mortar in the brickwork"; the Revised Version, margin, "lay them with mortar in the pavement." In  Habakkuk 2:6 , ‛abhṭı̄ṭ (found only here) is rendered in the King James Version "thick clay," as if from ‛ăbhı̄ and ṭı̄ṭ , but the Revised Version (British and American) has "pledges," referring the word to the root ‛ābhaṭ , "to give a pledge." In  1 Kings 7:46 , ma‛ăbheh hā - 'ădhāmāh (compare  2 Chronicles 4:17 , ‛ăbhı̄ hā - 'ădhāmāh ) is the compact or clayey soil in the plain of Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan, in which Hiram cast the vessels of brass for Solomon's temple. In  John 9:6 ,  John 9:11 ,  John 9:14 , Thayer gives "made mud of the spittle"; in  Romans 9:21 , "wet clay."

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

Clay, a substance frequently mentioned in Scripture, chiefly with reference to its employment by the potter, the elegant and useful forms assumed by the rude material under his hands supplying a significant emblem of the Divine power over the destinies of man . A remarkable allusion to the use of clay in sealing occurs in . 'He turneth it as clay to the seal.' This may be explained by reference to the ancient practice or impressing unburned bricks with certain marks and inscriptions which were obviously made by means of a large seal or stamp. We trace this in the bricks of Egypt and Babylon [BRICKS]. Modern Oriental usages supply another illustration. Travelers, when entering the khans in towns, often observe the rooms in which goods have been left in charge of the khanjee sealed on the outside with clay. A piece of clay is placed over the lock, and impressed by a large wooden stamp or seal.