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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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υαλος . This word occurs Revelation 21:18 ; Revelation 21:21 ; and the adjective υαλινος , Revelation 4:6 ; Revelation 15:2 . Parkhurst says that in the later Greek writers, and in the New Testament, υαλος denotes the artificial substance, glass; and that we may either with Mintert derive it from ελη , splendour, or immediately from the Hebrew הל , 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 מראת , in Exodus 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 Sir_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 εσοπτρον , or mirror, occurs in 1 Corinthians 13:12 , and James 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, 1 Corinthians 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."

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Glass'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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