Lookingglasses

This is not an article with any big revelation or deep thought that I have had.  It came about as another of those “Wow moments” that I have mentioned before – something I read that I never really noticed.  Curiosity got the best of me and I decided that it was time to search and study a little deeper. 

In Exodus 24 Moses has gone up onto Mount Sinai where God is giving him all the details about the tabernacle they are to construct and the specifics for all its furnishings.  In chapter 30:17 he is given instructions for a particular basin that is to be used for priests to wash their hands and feet before ministering – “’Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing.’” (NIV)  

In chapter 38:8 (KJV) we are told “And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”  Other versions refer to them as mirrors, which is the correct translation of lookingglasses.  If the basin and stand were to be made of bronze I wondered why does it say they were made from mirrors?  

So, I read about that specific verse using several commentaries wanting to be sure I got the full picture.  What I learned was that the mirrors of Biblical times were not like the mirrors we use today. Instead of a piece of glass with reflective paint on one side they were made of highly polished metals.  Bronze seemed to have been the metal of choice. One commentator noted that some were made using a combination of brass and tin and these seemed to be valued as the very best.

The mirrors apparently were attached to some kind of handle and sometimes had intricate engraving on them as well; and, the consensus of the commentators was that these mirrors were highly valued by the women of that day.     They were commonly used by the Egyptian women. I do not know if the Israelite women owned some mirrors themselves or if that was possibly part of the booty they collected from the Egyptian women upon their exodus from Egypt. I am sure that everyone (especially women) can relate to the importance of those mirrors and how difficult it may have been for them to part with them to be used for a washbasin.  

We have no way to know if the basin and stand were then made by just piecing all the mirrors together in some artistic way or if they were melted down and used to construct them.  But it no doubt was a thing of beauty when completed. This gives us a reminder that our sacrifices can result in things that are beautiful to behold.

Another part of the verse that got my attention was that the mirrors were given by “women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”  Now since this is from the KJV I decided to see how other translations worded this part of the verse.  NIV says “…the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” The Message says “…the women’s work group who were assigned to serve at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”  The RSV says “…the ministering women who ministered at the door of the tent of meeting.”

Some of the words used by the commentaries I read to describe the women that so freely gave up their cherished possessions were: devoted, zealous for the Lord, devout and good women.  One commentator pointed out that it was not a command from Moses that resulted in this sacrificial giving, but out of the unselfish goodness of their hearts. 

I would hope as I live my life that I can learn to be unselfish and can give out of the goodness of my heart when I see needs that should be met.  I have been so very blessed and I know that I need to be open and willing to do more for others. Hopefully God would then allow me to witness the beauty He can generate from my giving.  

Do you have any lookingglasses you could share?

Written by Karran Martin – February 10, 2019

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