From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

 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.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

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."

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

Glass was known in the ancient world from about 2600 B.C. in Egypt. In Egypt and Phoenicia glass was opaque and was used chiefly to make ornamental objects—especially beads, jewelry, and small bottles. The value of glass in ancient times may be indicated in Job where the value of glass is equated with that of gold and is used in parallel with jewels ( Job 28:17 ). The Egyptians and Phoenicians made small bottles for perfume by welding sticks of glass round a core of sand and clay built around a bar of metal. The core and bar were removed after the glass cooled.

Transparent glass was not made until New Testament times as a luxury item. During this period, Alexandria, Egypt, became world famous as a center for the production of glassware. Such items as beakers, bowls, flasks, goblets, and bottles were made from the transparent glass. Corinth became known for the production of glass after the time of Paul.

John probably had the transparent variety of glass in mind when he wrote Revelation. He described the walls and streets of the new Jerusalem being made of pure gold. The gold of the walls and streets was so pure, it was as clear as glass ( Revelation 21:18 ,Revelation 21:18, 21:21 ).

John also described the sea as being like glass ( Revelation 4:6;  Revelation 15:2 ). Here the reference is probably not so much to transparency as to calmness. It has often been stated that the Israelites had a fear of the sea which always seemed to be in a state of chaos and tumult. The sea that John saw around the throne of God was not in a constant uproar; this sea was as smooth as glass.

The KJV uses glass in five other passages where a polished metal mirror is probably being referred to ( Job 37:18;  Isaiah 3:23;  1 Corinthians 13:12;  2 Corinthians 3:18;  James 1:23 ). Glass was not used to make mirrors in biblical times.

Phil Logan

King James Dictionary [4]

GL`ASS, n. L. glastum glesid, blueness. Greenness is usually named from vegetation or growing, as L. viridis, from vireo.

1. A hard, brittle, transparent, factitious substance, formed by fusing sand with fixed alkalies.

In chimistry, a substance or mixture, earthy, saline or metallic, brought by fusion to the state of a hard, brittle, transparent mass, whose fracture is conchoidal.

2. A glass vessel of any kind as a drinking glass. 3. A mirror a looking-glass. 4. A vessel to be filled with sand for measuring time as an hour-glass. 5. The destined time of man's life. His glass is run. 6. The quantity of liquor that a glass vessel contains. Drink a glass of wine with me. 7. A vessel that shows the weight of the air. 8. A perspective glass as an optic glass. 9. The time which a glass runs, or in which it is exhausted of sand. The seamen's watch-glass is half an hour. We say, a ship fought three glasses. 10. Glasses, in the plural, spectacles.

GL`ASS, a. Made of glass vitreous as a glass bottle.

GL`ASS, To see as in a glass. Not used.

1. To case in glass. Little used. 2. To cover with glass to glaze.

In the latter sense, glaze is generally used.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

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,  Exodus 38:8   Job 37:18   James 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  1 Corinthians 13:12   Revelation 4:6   15:2   21:18,21; probably also in  Job 28:17 , where our English version has the word crystal.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Glass was discovered by the Phœnicians, or perhaps earlier. Representations of the process of glass-blowing are found on Egyptian monuments, and glass beads and fragments of glass vases have been discovered of very ancient age. The only mention of glass in the Ola Testament is in  Job 28:17, R. V. It is translated "crystal" in the A. V. The mirrors referred to by the word "glass" in  1 Corinthians 13:12;  2 Corinthians 8:18;  James 1:23, were not made of glass. The word is translated "mirror" in these places in the R. V.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

Zekukith   Job 28:17 Revelation 4:6 15:2 21:18,21 Job 37:18 Exodus 38:8 James 1:23

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [8]

See House, Mirror, Sea of Glass.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [9]

Egyptian Glassblowers

Glass, according to Pliny, was discovered by what is termed accident. Some merchants kindled a fire on that part of the coast of Phoenicia which lies near Phoenicia, between the foot of Carmel and Tyre, at a spot where the river Belus casts the fine sand which it brings down; but, as they were without the usual means of suspending their cooking vessels, they employed for that purpose logs of niter, their vessel being laden with that substance; the fire fusing the nitre and the sand produced glass. The Sidonians, in whose vicinity the discovery was made, took it up, and having in process of time carried the art to a high degree of excellence, gained thereby both wealth and fame. Other nations became their pupils; the Romans especially attained to very high skill in the art of fusing, blowing, and coloring glass. Even glass mirrors were invented by the Sidonians. This account of Pliny is in substance corroborated by Strabo and by Josephus. Yet, notwithstanding this explicit statement, it was long denied that the ancients were acquainted with glass properly so called; nor did the denial entirely disappear even when Pompeii offered evidences of its want of foundation. Our knowledge of Egypt has, however, set the matter at rest—showing at the same time how careful men should be in setting up mere abstract reasonings in opposition to the direct testimony of history. Wilkinson, in his Ancient Egyptians (iii. 88, sq.), has adduced the fullest evidence that glass was known to and made by that ingenious people at a very early period of their national existence. Upward of 3500 years ago, in the reign of the first Osirtasen, they appear to have practiced the art of blowing glass. The process is represented in the paintings of Beni Hassan, executed in the reign of that monarch. In the same age images of glazed pottery were common. Ornaments of glass were made by them about 1500 years B.C.; for a bead of that date has been found, being of the same specific gravity as that of our crown glass. Many glass bottles, etc. have been met with in the tombs, some of very remote antiquity. Glass vases were used for holding wine as early as the Exodus. Such was the skill of the Egyptians in this manufacture, that they successfully counterfeited the amethyst, and other precious stones. It was sometimes used by the Egyptians even for coffins. They also employed it, not only for drinking utensils and ornaments of the person, but for mosaic-work, the figures of deities, and sacred emblems, attaining to exquisite workmanship, and a surprising brilliancy of color. The art too of cutting glass was known to them at the most remote periods; for which purpose, as we learn from Pliny, the diamond was used. That the ancients had mirrors of glass is clear from the above-cited words of Pliny; but the mirrors found in Egypt are made of mixed metal, chiefly copper. So admirably did the skill of the Egyptians succeed in the composition of metals, that their mirrors were susceptible of a polish which has been but partially revived at the present day. The mirror was nearly round, having a handle of wood, stone, or metal. The form varied with the taste of the owner. The same kind of metal mirror was used by the Israelites, who, doubtless, brought it from Egypt. In , it is expressly said that Moses 'made the laver of brass of the looking-glasses (brazen mirrors) of the women.'

It would be justifiable to suppose that the Hebrews brought glass, and a knowledge how to manufacture it, with them out of Egypt, were not the evidence of history so explicit that it was actually discovered and wrought at their own doors. Whether it was used by them for mirrors is another question. That glass, however, was known to the Hebrews appears beyond a doubt.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

glas ( זכוּכית , zekhūkhı̄th  ; ὕαλος , húalos ):

1. History

Glass is of great antiquity. The story of its discovery by accident, as related by Pliny ( Nh , xxxvi.65), is apocryphal, but it was natural for the Greeks and Romans to ascribe it to the Phoenicians, since they were the producers of the article as known to them. The Egyptian monuments have revealed to us the manufacture in a time so remote that it must have preceded that of the Phoenicians. A representation of glass-blowing on monuments of the Old Empire, as formerly supposed, is now regarded as doubtful, but undoubted examples of glazed pottery of that age exist. A fragment of blue glass has been found inscribed with the name of Antef III, of the 11th Dynasty, dating from 2000 or more bc (Davis, Ancient Egypt , 324). The oldest dated bottle, or vase, is one bearing the name of Thothmes III, 1500 or more bc, and numerous examples occur of later date. The close connection between Egypt and Syria from the time of Thothmes on must have made glass known in the latter country, and the Phoenicians, so apt in all lines of trade and manufacture, naturally seized on glass-making as a most profitable art and they became very proficient in it. The earliest glass was not very transparent, since they did not know how to free the materials used from impurities. It had a greenish or purplish tinge, and a large part of the examples we have of Phoenician glass exhibit this. But we have many examples of blue, red and yellow varieties which were purposely colored, and others quite opaque and of a whitish color, resembling porcelain (Perrot and Chipiez, Art in Ancient Phoenicia and Its Dependencies ). But both they and the Egyptians made excellent transparent glass also, and decorated it with brilliant coloring on the surface (ib; Beni Hasan, Archeol. Survey of Egypt , Pt IV). Layard ( Nineveh and Babylon ) mentions a vase of transparent glass bearing the name of Sargon (522-505 bc), and glass was early known to the Babylonians.

2. Manufacture

Phoenicia was the great center, and the quantities found in tombs of Syria and Palestine go to confirm the statement that this was one of the great industries of this people, to which ancient authors testify (Strabo, Geog .; Pliny, Nh ). Josephus refers to the sand of the Belus as that from which glass was made ( Bj , II, x, 2). It seems to have been especially adapted for the purpose, but there are other places on the coast where plenty of suitable sand could be obtained. The potash required was obtained by burning certain marine and other plants, and saltpeter, or niter, was also employed. The manufacture began centuries bc on this coast, and in the 12th century ad a factory is mentioned as still being worked at Tyre, and the manufacture was later carried on at Hebron, even down to recent times (Perrot and Chipiez).

Both the Egyptians and Phoenicians gained such proficiency in making transparent and colored glass that they imitated precious stones with such skill as to deceive the unwary. Necklaces are found composed of a mixture of real brilliants and glass imitations. Cut glass was manufactured in Egypt as early as the 18th Dynasty, and diamonds were made use of in the article Glass composed of different colors in the same piece was made by placing layers of glass wire, of different colors, one above the other and then fusing them so thar they became united in a solid mass without intermingling. Colored designs on the surface were produced by tracing the patterns, while the glass was still warm and plastic, deep enough to receive the threads of colored glass which were imbedded in them. The whole was heated again sufficiently to fuse the threads and attach them to the body. The surface was then made even by perishing. By this process vessels and ornaments of very beautiful design were produced. Many of the specimens, as found, are covered by an exquisite iridescence which is due wholly to the decomposition of the surface by chemical action, from lying buried for centuries in the soil which thus acts upon it. This is often lost in handling by the scaling off of the outer surface.

Glass, in the strict sense, is rarely mentioned in Scripture, but it was certainly known to the Hebrews, and occurs in  Job 28:17 (translated "crystal" in the King James Version). Bottles, cups and other vessels in glass must have been in use to some extent. The wine cup of   Proverbs 23:31 and the bottle for tears mentioned in   Psalm 56:8 were most likely of glass. Tear bottles are found in great quantities in the tombs throughout the land and were undoubtedly connected with funeral rites, the mourners collecting their tears and placing them in these bottles to be buried with the dead. As mourners were hired for the purpose, the number of these bottles would indicate the extent to which the deceased was honored. These were, of course, small, some quite diminutive (see illustration), as also were the vials or pots to contain the ointment for the eyebrows and eyelashes, used to heighten the beauty of the women, which was probably a custom among the Hebrews as well as their neighbors. Rings, bracelets and anklets of glass are very common and were doubtless worn by the Hebrew women (see   Isaiah 3:18 f). In the New Testament the Greek hualos occurs in  Revelation 21:18 ,  Revelation 21:21 , and the adjective derived from it huálinos in  Revelation 4:6 and   Revelation 15:2 . In the other passages, where in the King James Version "glass" occurs, the reference is to "looking-glass ," or mirror, which was not made of glass, but of bronze, and polished so as to reflect the light similar to glass. The Hebrew word for this is גּלּיון , gillāyōn ( Isaiah 3:23 ), or מראה , mar'āh ( Exodus 38:8 ), and the Greek ἔσοπτρον , ésoptron ( 1 Corinthians 13:12;  James 1:23; compare The Wisdom of Solomon 7:26; Sirach 12:11).

The composition of the Phoenician glass varies considerably. The analysis shows that, besides the ordinary constituents of silica, lime, lead, potash or soda, other elements are found, some being used for the purpose of coloring, such as manganese to give the purplish or violet hue, cobalt for blue, copper for red, etc. The articles illustrated above are of ordinary transparent glass with an iridescent surface, caused by decomposition, as mentioned above, indicated by the scaly appearance.  Numbers 1,4,5 are tear bottles, number 4 being only 1 3/4 inches in height;   Numbers 2,3 are ointment vases which were used for the ointment with which ladies were accustomed to color their eyebrows and eyelashes to enhance their beauty. This custom still prevails in the East. The small ladle by the side of the larger vase is of bronze, used in applying the ointment. This vase is double and 6 3/4 inches high, ornamented with glass wire wound upon it while plastic. The larger vases (numbers 6,7) are about 6 inches in height. The hand-mirror ("looking-glass" the King James Version) is bronze, and had originally a polished surface, but is now corroded.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Glass'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.