Glass (the material is perhaps denoted by זכוּכַית, zekukith', rock "crystal," Job 28:17; ὕαλος, crystal, "glass," Re 21:18,21; and hence the adj. ὐάλινος, crystalline, "of glass," Re 4:6; Re 15:2 SEE CRYSTAL; the instrument or looking-glass by גַּלָּיוֹן, gillayon', a tablet, "roll," Isa 8:1; "glass," i.e., mirror, Isa 3:23; מִראָה, marah', a " vision," as usually rendered; "looking-glass," Ex 38:8; ἔσοπτρον, a mirror, "glass," 1Co 13:12; Jas 1:23 SEE MIRROR ), according to Pliny (H. Nat. 36:26), was discovered by what is termed accident. Some merchants kindled a fire on that part of the coast of Phoenicia which lies near Ptolemais, 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 nitre, their vessel being laden with that substance: the fire fusing the nitre and the sand produced glass. He proceeds to state that 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; finally, even glass mirrors were invented by the Sidonians. This account of Pliny is in substance corroborated by Strabo (16:15) and by Josephus (War, 2:9). But this account is less likely than the supposition that vitreous matter first attracted observation from the custom of lighting fires on the sand "in a country producing natron or subcarbonate of soda" (Rawlinson's Herod. 2:82). It has been pointed out that Pliny's story may have originated in the fact that the sand of the Syrian river Belus, at the mouth of which the incident is supposed to have occurred, "was esteemed peculiarly suitable for glass-making, and exported in great quantities to the workshops of Sidon and Alexandria, long the most famous in the ancient world" (Smith, Dict. of Class. Ant. s.v. Vitrum, where everything requisite to the illustration of the classical allusions to glass may be found). Some find a remarkable reference to this little river (respecting which, see Pliny, Hist. Nat. 5:17; 36:65; Josephus, War, 2:10, 12; Tacitus, Hist. 5:7) in the blessing to the tribe of Zebulun, "they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand" (De 33:19). Both the name Belus (Reland, Palest. page 267) and the Hebrew word חוֹל "sand," have been suggested as derivations for the Greek ὕαλος, which is, however, in all probability, from an Egyptian root. SEE BELUS. Some suppose that the proper name מַשׁרפוֹת מִיַם ("burnings by the waters") contains an allusion to Sidonian glass-factories (Meier on Jos 11:8; Jos 13:6), but it is much more probable that it was so called from the burning of Jabin's chariots at that place (Lord A. Hervey, On the Genealogies, page 228), or from hot springs. SEE MISREPHOTH-MAIM
Yet, notwithstanding the above 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. Wilkinson, in his Ancient Egyptians (3:88 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. Upwards 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 Exode. In Egypt they had the advantage not only of an earlier application to the art, but also of a peculiar earth, which appears to have been necessary to the production of some of the more valuable and brilliant kinds of glass (Beckman, History of Inventions, "Colored Glass," 1:195 sq., Eng. transl.; also 3:208 sq.; 4:54). Yet the perfectly clear and transparent glass was considered the most valuable (Pliny, 36:26). Indeed, a great part of the glass-ware used at Rome about the Christian aera and subsequently came from Alexandria; and the emperor Hadrian was presented by an Egyptian priest with some vases which were reckoned so fine that they were produced only on grand occasions (Strabo, 1:17; Vopiscus in Vita Saturnini, c. 8). Wilkinson states respecting the Egyptians, "Such was their skill in the manufacture of glass, and in the mode of staining it of various hues, that they counterfeited with success the amethyst and other precious stones, and even arrived at an excellence in the art which their successors have been unable to retain, and which our European workmen, in spite of their imsprovements in other branches of this manufacture, are still unable to imitate. For not only do the colors of some Egyptian opaque glass offer the most varied devices on, the exterior, distributed with the regularity of a studied design, but the same hue and the same devices pass in right lines directly through the substance; so that in whatever part it is broken, or whereaver a section may chance to be made of it, the same appearance, the same colors, and the same device present themselves, without being found ever to deaviate from the direction of a straight line, from the external surface to the interior" (Ancient Egypt. 3:193). Winckelmann is of opinion that glass was employed more frequently in ancient than in modern times. It was sometimes used by the Egyptians even for coffins, and in wainscoting ("vitreae camerae," Hist. Nat. 36:64; Stat. Sylv.1:5, 42). They also employed it not only for drinking utensils and ornaments of the persons, but for mosaic work, the figures of deities, and sacred emblems, attaining to exquisite workmanship and a surprising brilliancy of color. Their imitation of precious stones in a manner which often defied detection (Pliny, Hist. Naturalis, 37:26, 33, 75) is probably the explanation of the incredibly large gems which we find mentioned in ancient authors; e.g. Larcher considers that the emerald column alluded to by Herodotus (2:44) was "du verre colore, dont l'interieur etaite eclairei par des lampes." The art, too, of cutting glass was knoewn to them at the most remote periods; for which purpose, as we learn from Pliny (Hist. Naturalis, 37:4), the diamond was used. SEE ENGRAVE
The art of manufacturing glass was also known to the ancient Assyrians (Layard, Ninev. 2:42), and a glass bottle was found in the northwest palace of Nimraud which has on it the name of Sargon, and is therefore probably older than B.C. 702 (id. Nin. and Bab. page 167). This is the earliest known specimen of transparent glass. Opaque colored glass was manufactured by the Assyrians at a much earlier period, and some specimens exist of the 15th century B.C. The Sargon vase had been blown in one piece, and turned and hollowed out afterwards. In the mounds of Babylon were likewise found in glass bottles, some colored, others ribbed and otherwise ornamented, and vases of earthen-ware of various forms and sizes, sometimes glazed with a rich blue color (ib. page 429).
Other glass vessels of the Roman period were else. where discovered (ib. page 504). With the glass bowls was discovered a rock-crystal lens, which must have been used as a magnifying or burning-glass (ib. page 167). In later times glass was abundant for similar purposes among the Romans, as is evident from the specimens disinterred from the ruins of Pompeii. SEE BOTTLE.
That glass was known to the Hebrews appears beyond a doubt; but whether they brought a knowledge of its manufacture with them omit of Egypt, or learned it from their Sidonian neighbors, is uncertain. Whether they used it for mirrors is doubtful. In Job 28:17, זכוּכַית is believed to mean, glass, though it is rendered "crystal" in the English version. It comes from זָכִך (to be pure), and, according to the best authorities, means a kind of glass which in ancient days was held in high esteem (J.D. Michaelis, Hist. Vitri apud Hebr.; and Hamberger, Hist. Vitrsi ex antiquitate eruta, quoted by Gesenius, s.v.). Symmachus renders it κρύσταλλος, but that is rather intended by גָּבַישׁ (Job 28:18, A.V. " pearls," Sept. γάβις, a word which also means " ice ;" comp. Pliny, H.N. 37:2) and קֶרִח (Eze 1:22). It seems, then, that Job 28:17 contains the only allusion to glass found in the O.T., and even this reference is disputed. Besides Symmachus, others also render it διαυγῆ κρύσταλλον (Schleusner, Thesaur. s.v. ὔαλος), and it is argued that the word ὔαλος frequently means crystal. Thus the Schol. on Aristoph. Nub. 764, defines ὔαλος (when it occurs in old writers) as διαφανὴς λίθος ἐοικὼς ὑάλῳ, and Hesychius gives as its equivalent λίθος τίμιος. In Herodotus (3:24) it is clear that ὔελος must mean crystal, for he says, ἡ δέ σφι πολλὴ καὶ εὔεργος ὀρύσσεται, and Achilles Tatius speaks of crystal as ὕαλος ὀρωρυγμένη (2:3; BAhre, On Haerod. 2:44; Heeren, Ideen, II, 1:335). Others consider זכוּכַית to be amber, or electrum, or alabaster (Bochart, Hieroz. II, 6:872). In the New Testament the word employed is ὕαλος (compare Aristoph. Nubes, 768). In Re 21:18 we read, "The city was pure gold, like unto clear glass;" verse 21, "as it were transparent glass" (compare 4:6). Mention is made in Re 4:6; Re 15:2, of a sea of glass like unto crystal, concerning the meaning of which interpreters vary; but it is probably an allusion to the brazen sea spoken of in 1Ki 7:23, and elsewhere, containing water for the priests to wash with, that they might not minister before God under any pollution. "Molten looking-glass" also occurs in Job 37:18; but the original ראַי tspeculusn, and its corresponding word in Ex 38:8, authorize the translation "mirror" — that is, of some metal. Indeed, Beckman (Beitrage zur Gesch. der Erfindung, 3:319) erroneously denies that glass mirrors were known till the 13th century, adding that they are still seldom seen in the East. It is certain, however, that glass was not applied in ancient times to windows; when these were not, as they commonly were in the East, simply open apertures by day, with wooden doors placed on them by night, a kind of semi-transparent stone, a sort of talc, called lapis specularis, was generally used, and continued to be so for centuries after the Christian temra. SEE WINDOW.
It is a singular fact, that although the ancients were aware of the reflective power of glass, and although the Sidonians used it for mirrors (Pliny, H.N. 36:66), yet for some unexplained reason mirrors of glass must have proved unsuccessful, since even under the Roman empire they were universally made of metal, which is at once less perfect, more expensive, and more difficult to preserve. See Smith, Dict. of Class. Ant. s.v. Speculum. Accordingly, 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 Ex 38:8 it is expressly said that Moses "made the laver of brass of the looking-glasses (brazen mirrors) of the women." In the East mirrors had a connection with the observances of religion; females held them before the images of the goddesses, thereby manifesting their own humility as servants of the divinities, and betokening the prevalence in private life of a similar custom (Callimach. Hymn. in Pallad. 21; Senec. Ep. 95; Cyril, De Adorat. in Spir. 2:64). That in the New Testament a mirror is intended in Jas 1:23, "beholding his natural face in a glass," appears certain; but the other passage, in which the word ἔσοπτρον occurs (1Co 13:12), seems to require an imperfectly transparent medium, through which objects are beheld. What the precise substance was which the apostle thought of when he used the words it may not be easy to determine. It could not well be ordinary glass, for that was transparent. It may have been the lapis specularis, or a kind of tale, of which the ancients made their windows. This opinion is confirmed by Scbleusner, who says that the Jews used a similar mode of expression to describe a dim and imperfect view of mental objects (Schottgen, Hor. Heb. ad loc.). (See Michaelis, Hist. Vitri ap. Heb. in Comment. Soc. Goetting. 4:57; also Dr. Falconer on "the Knowledge of the Aiccients respecting Glass," in the Memoirs of the Lit. and Philippians Soc. of Manchester, 2:96; Becker's Charicles, 1:132; Michaelis, Supplem. page 613; Pareau, Comment. on Job 28, page 316; Hamberger, Vitri Hist., in the Comment. Soc. Gott. 1754; Hirsch, Geschichte d. Baukunst, 3:66.) SEE LOOKING-GLASS.