The translation of the noun kopher, and the verb kaphar, in Genesis 6:14 and of the noun zepheth, in Exodus 2:3; Isaiah 34:9. In Genesis 6:14 the words are the ordinary forms for "covering," "cover," so that the translation "pitch" is largely guesswork, aided by the Septuagint, which reads asphaltos, "bitumen," here, and by the fact that pitch is a usual "covering" for vessels. The meaning of zepheth, however, is fixed by the obvious Dead Sea imagery of Isaiah 34:9-15--the streams and land of Edom are to become burning bitumen, like the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Exodus 2:3 zepheth is combined with chemar, which also means bitumen (Genesis 14:10; see SLIME), and the distinction between the words (different consistencies of the same substance?) is not clear.
Burton Scott Easton
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