Was well known to the ancients, and no doubt to the Jews; its invention is traced to an incident on the coast to Phoenica, and the arts of blowing, coloring, and cutting it were familiar to the ancient Egyptians. The "looking glasses" of the Jews, however, were of highly polished metal, usually small and round, Ex 38:8; Job 37:18; Jas 1:23. Glass does not appear to have been used at that time for mirrors, nor for windows; but for cups, bottles, vases, ornaments, sacred emblems, etc. It is alluded to in 1Co 13:12; Re 4:6; 15:2; 21/18/type/net'>21:18,21; probably also in Job 28:17, where our English version has the word crystal.
was known to the Egyptians at a very early period of their national history, at least B.C. 1500. Various articles both useful and ornamental were made of it, as bottles, vases, etc. A glass bottle with the name of Sargon on it was found among the ruins of the north-west palace of Nimroud. The Hebrew word zekukith (Job 28:17), rendered in the Authorized Version "crystal," is rightly rendered in the Revised Version "glass." This is the only allusion to glass found in the Old Testament. It is referred to in the New Testament in Re 4:6; 15:2; 21/18/type/net'>21:18,21. In Job 37:18, the word rendered "looking-glass" is in the Revised Version properly rendered "mirror," formed, i.e., of some metal. (Comp. Ex 38:8: "looking-glasses" are brazen mirrors, R.V.). A mirror is referred to also in Jas 1:23.
Job 28:17, "crystal" or "glass", the only allusion to glass in Old Testament The paintings at Benihassan and in tombs show that it was known in the reign of Osirtasin I, 1600 B.C. Egypt was probably the land of its discovery. A bead of 1500 B.C. was found at Thebes, of the same specific gravity as crown glass in England. Relics of the Phoenician trade in the shape of glass beads have been found in Cornwall and Ireland. A glass bottle with Sargon's name was found in the N.W. Nimrud palace, the oldest specimen of transparent glass, older than 700 B.C. Pliny attributes the discovery to Phoenician sailors using natron to support saucepans (H. N., 36:65). Probably vitreous matter was formed in lighting fires on the sand in a country producing natron or subcarbonate of soda. Pliny's story may have originated in the suitability of the sand at the mouth of the Syrian river Belus for making glass, for which accordingly it was exported to Sidon and Alexandria, the centers of that manufacture.
In De 33:19 there seems allusion to the same: "they (of Zebulun on the N.W. seacoast) shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand"; glass being a precious "treasure" in ancient times, and the sand of that coast being especially prized for its manufacture. The Egyptians could inlay it with gold and enamel, and permeate opaque glass with variously colored designs, and make the same hue and devices pass in right lines directly through the substance; and imitate precious stones. Glass is an emblem of brightness and colored glitter, rather than transparency, which "crystal" represents (Re 4:6). Hence it was not used for windows, which were simply openings furnished with shutters.
LOOKING GLASSES were made of polished metal, generally tin and copper mixed, not glass (Ex 38:8 margin). Job 37:18, "the sky ... as a molten looking glass"; the polish of the metal representing the bright sky. In 1Co 13:12 the sense is: "now (in our present state) we see in a mirror (the reflection seeming behind, so that we see it through the mirror) darkly (in enigma)"; the ancient mirrors being at best unequal to ours, and often being tarnished and dim.
The inadequate knowledge of an object gained by seeing it reflected in the ancient mirror, compared with the perfect idea formed by seeing itself directly, happily represents the contrast between the saint's present reflected and his future direct, immediate, and intuitive knowledge. Compare 2Co 3:18; Jas 1:23. The word of God is a perfect mirror; but our minds imperfectly apprehend it, and at best see but the image indirectly, not the reality face to face. The luster of some mirrors found at Thebes, though buried for centuries, has been partially restored.
The Hebrew word occurs only in
where in the Authorized Version it is rendered "crystal." In spite of the absence of specific allusion to glass in the sacred writings, the Hebrews must have been aware of the invention from paintings representing the process of glass-blowing, which have been discovered at Beni-hassan, and in tombs at other places, we know that the invention vas known at least 3500 years ago. Fragments too of wine-vases as old as the exodus have been discovered in Egypt. The art was also known to the ancient Assyrians. In the New Testament glass is alluded to as an emblem of brightness.
GLASS, ?????. This word occurs 21/18/type/net'>Re 21:18,21; and the adjective ???????, Re 4:6; 15:2. Parkhurst says that in the later Greek writers, and in the New Testament, ????? denotes the artificial substance, glass; and that we may either with Mintert derive it from ???, splendour, or immediately from the Hebrew ??, to shine. There seems to be no reference to glass in the Old Testament. The art of making it was not known. Our translators have rendered the Hebrew word ????, in Ex 38:8, and Job 37:18, "looking-glass." But the making mirrors of glass coated with quicksilver, is an invention quite modern. Thee word looking-glass occurs in our version of Ecclesiasticus 12:11, "Never trust thine enemy; for like as iron rusteth, so is his wickedness. Though he humble himself, and go crouching, yet take good heed and beware of him, and thou shalt be unto him as if thou hadst washed a looking-glass, and thou shalt know that his rust hath not been altogether wiped away." This passage proves, by its mention of rust, that mirrors were then made of polished metal. The word ????????, or mirror, occurs in 1Co 13:12, and Jas 1:23. Dr. Pearce thinks that in the former place it signifies any of those transparent substances which the ancients used in their windows, and through which they saw external objects obscurely. But others are of opinion that the word denotes a mirror of polished metal; as this, however, was liable to many imperfections, so that the object before it was not seen clearly or fully, the meaning of the Apostle is, that we see things as it were by images reflected from a mirror, which shows them very obscurely and indistinctly. In the latter place, a mirror undoubtedly is meant: "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway he forgetteth what manner of man he was:" but in the former, 1Co 13:12, semi- transparent glass such as that which we see in the ancient glass vases of the Romans is obviously intended. Specimens of Roman glass may be seen in collections of antiquities, and some have been dug up at Pompeii; but in all it is cloudy and dull, and objects can only be seen through it with indistinctness. From this we may fully perceive the force of the Apostle's words, "now we see through a glass darkly."