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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Glass

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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 Deuteronomy 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 (Revelation 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 (Exodus 38:8 margin). Job 37:18, "the sky ... as a molten looking glass"; the polish of the metal representing the bright sky. In 1 Corinthians 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 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 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.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Glass'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/g/glass.html. 1949.

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