Although this word does not occur in the Auth. Vers., except in the Apocrypha (Wisd. 7:26), it is the proper representative of at least two Heb. and one Gr. term, for which our translators employ the less correct rendering "LOOKING-GLASS" (מִראָה, marah', a vision, as often, Ex 38:8; Sept. κάτοπτρον, Vulg. speculum; ראַי, rei', a spectacle, Job 37:18, Sept. ὅρασις; Vulg. ces; גַּליוֹן, gilyon', a tablet of wood, stone, or metal on which to inscribe anything, so called as being made bare, Isa 8:1; in Isa 3:23 the plural refers, according to the Chald., Abarbanel, Jarchi, and others, with the Vulg. specula, and the Auth. Vers. 6 "glasses," to mirrors or polished plates of metal, see Gesenius, Comment. ad loc., but Kimchi and others understand, with the Sept. διαφανῆ Λακονικά, transparent garments, such as show the body, comp. Schrider, De Vest. mul. Heb. pages 311, 312). In the first of the foregoing passages the mirrors in the possession of the women of the Israelites, when they quitted Egypt, are described as being of brass; for "the layer of brass, and the foot of it," were made from them. In the second, the firmament is compared to "a molten mirror." In fact, the mirrors used in ancient times were almost universally of metal (the passage in the Mishna, Chelim, 30:2, does not allude to glass mirrors); and as those of the Hebrew women in the wilderness were brought out of Egypt, they were doubtless of the same kind as those which have been found in the tombs of that country, and many of which now exist in our museums and collections of Egyptian antiquities. These are of mixed metals, chiefly copper, most carefully wrought and highly polished; and so admirably did the skill of the Egyptians succeed in the composition of metals that this substitute for our modern looking-glass was susceptible of a lustre, which has even been partially revived at the present day in some of those discovered at Thebes, though buried in the earth for so many centuries. The mirror itself was nearly round, and was inserted in a handle, of wood, stone, or metal, the form of which varied according to the taste of the owner (see Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, 3:384-386). In the N.T. mirrors are mentioned (ἔσοπτρα, Jas 1:23; comp. 1Co 13:12; see Harenberg, in Hasaei et Iken. nov. thesaur. 2:829 sq.). They are alluded to in the Rabbinical writings (אספקלריא,i.e., specularia, Targ. Jon. in Exodus 19:17; De 33:19; Mishna, Chelim, 17:15; Edujotlh, 2:7; see Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. Page 379). See generally, Th. Carpzov, De speculis Hebraeor. (Rostock, 1752); Jahn, I, 2:155 sq.; Hartmann, Hebr. 2:240 sq.; 3:245 sq. It appears likewise from other positive statements that mirrors anciently were of metal, namely, of copper (χαλκεῖον, Xenoph. Symp. 7:4) or tin, also of an alloy of both these metals, answering to brass, and sometimes even of silver (Pliny, 33:45; 34:48; comp. Resell. AIonum. II, 2:528 sq.; Becker, Gallus, III, 3). Occasionally they were of great size (Senec. Nat. Qucest. 1:16, 17, page 185, Bip.; Quintil. Inst. 2:3, 68). Finally, mirrors of polished stone are mentioned (Pliny, 36:45; comp. Sueton. Domit. 14). "Pliny mentions that anciently the best were made at Brundusium. Praxiteles, in the time of Pompey the Great, is said to have been the first who made them of silver, though these were afterwards so common as, in the time of Pliny, to be used by the ladies' maids. Silver mirrors are alluded to in Plautus (Mostell. 1:4, ver. 101) and Philostratus (Icon. 1:6); and one of steel is said to have been found. They were even made of gold (Eur. Hec. 925; Senec. Nat. Quaest. 1:17). According to Beckmann (Hist. of Inv. 2:64, Bohn's transl.), a mirror which was discovered near Naples was tested, and found to be made of a mixture of copper and regulus of antimony, with a little lead. Beckmann's editor (Mr. Francis) gives in a note the result of an analysis of an Etruscan mirror, which he examined and found to consist of 67.12 copper, 24.93 tin, and 8.13 lead, or nearly eight parts of copper to three of tin and one of lead; but neither in this, nor in one analyzed by Klaproth, was there any trace of antimony, which Beckmann asserts was unknown to the ancients. Modern experiments have shown that the mixture of copper and tin produces the best metal for specula (Phil. Trans. 67:296).
Beckmann is of the opinion that it was not till the 13th century that glass, covered at the back with tin or lead, was used for this purpose, the doubtful allusion in Pliny (36:66) to the mirrors made in the glass-houses of Sidon having reference to experiments which were unsuccessful. Other allusions to bronze mirrors will be found in a fragment of AEschylus preserved in Stobneus (Serm. 18. page 164, ed. Gesner, 1608) and in Callimachus (Hym. in Lav. Pall. 21). Convex mirrors of polished steel are mentioned as common in the East in a manuscript note of Chardin's upon Ecclus. 12:11, quoted by Harmer (Observ. volume 4, c. 11, obs. 55). The metal of which the mirrors were composed being liable to rust and tarnish, required to be constantly kept bright (Wisd. 7:26; Ecclus. 12:11). This was done by means of pounded pumice-stone, rubbed on with a sponge, which was generally suspended from the mirror. The Persians used emery-powder for the same purpose, according to Chardin (quoted by Hartmann, Die Hebr. am Putztische, 2:245). The obscure image produced by a tarnished or imperfect mirror appears to be alluded to in 1Co 13:12. On the other hand, a polished mirror is among the Arabs the emblem of a pure reputation. 'More spotless than the mirror of a foreign woman' is with them a proverbial expression, which Meidani explains of a woman who has married out of her country, and polishes her mirror incessantly, that no part of her face may escape her observation (De Sacy, Chrest. Arab. 3:236). Mirrors are mentioned by Chrysostom among the extravagances of fashion for which he rebuked the ladies of his time, and Seneca long before was loud in his denunciation of similar follies (Nat. Quest. 1:17). They were used by the Roman women in the worship of Juno (Senec. Ep. 95; Apuleius, Metam. 11. c. 9, page 770). In the Egyptian temples, says Cyril of Alexandria (De ador. in Spir. 9; Opera, 1:314, ed. Paris, 1638), it was the custom for the women to worship in linen garments, holding a mirror in their left hands and a sistrum in their right; and the Israelites, having fallen into the idolatries of the country, had brought with them the mirrors which they used in their worship." This is a practice to which one of the above Scripture passages (Ex 38:8) appears to allude (see Gesenmis, Comment. on Isa. 1:215; on the contrary, B.F. Qulistorp, Die'speculis labri cenei, Gryph. 1773).