And he maketh the laver of brass, and its base of brass, with the looking-glasses of the women assembling, who have assembled at the opening of the tent of meeting.
Exodus 38:8 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
He made the laver - See Clarke's note on Exodus 30:18, etc.
The looking-glasses - The word מראת maroth, from ראה raah, he saw, signifies reflectors or mirrors of any kind. Here metal, highly polished, must certainly be meant, as glass was not yet in use; and had it even been in use, we are sure that looking - Glasses could not make a Brazen laver. The word therefore should be rendered mirrors, not looking-glasses, which in the above verse is perfectly absurd, because from those maroth the brazen laver was made. The first mirrors known among men were the clear, still, fountain, and unruffled lake; and probably the mineral called mica, which is a very general substance through all parts of the earth. Plates of it have been found of three feet square, and it is so extremely divisible into laminae, that it has been divided into plates so thin as to be only the three hundred thousandth part of an inch. A plate of this forms an excellent mirror when any thing black is attached to the opposite side. A plate of this mineral, nine inches by eight, now lies before me; a piece of black cloth, or any other black substance, at the back, converts it into a good mirror; or it would serve as it is for a square of glass, as every object is clearly perceivable through it. It is used in Russian ships of war, instead of glass, for windows. The first artificial mirrors were apparently made of brass, afterwards of polished steel, and when luxury increased they were made of silver; but they were made at a very early period of mixed metal, particularly of tin and copper, the best of which, as Pliny tells us, were formerly manufactured at Brundusium: Optima apud majores fuerant Brundisina, stanno et aere mixtis - Hist. Nat. lib. xxxiii., cap. 9. But, according to him, the most esteemed were those made of tin; and he says that silver mirrors became so common that even the servant girls used them: Specula (ex stanno) laudatissima Brundisii temperabantur; donec argenteis uti caepere et ancillae; lib. xxxiv., cap. 17. When the Egyptian women went to the temples, they always carried their mirrors with them. The Israelitish women probably did the same, and Dr. Shaw states that the Arabian women carry them constantly hung at their breasts. It is worthy of remark, that at first these women freely gave up their ornaments for this important service, and now give their very mirrors, probably as being of little farther service, seeing they had already given up the principal decorations of their persons. Woman has been invidiously defined by Aristotle, an animal fond of dress, (though this belongs to the whole human race, and not exclusively to woman). Had this been true of the Israelitish women, in the present case we must say they nobly sacrificed their incentives to pride to the service of their God. Woman, go thou and do likewise.
Of the women - which assembled at the door - What the employment of these women was at the door of the tabernacle, is not easily known. Some think they assembled there for purposes of devotion. Others, that they kept watch there during the night; and this is the most probable opinion, for they appear to have been in the same employment as those who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in the days of Samuel, who were abused by the sons of the high priest Eli, 1 Samuel 2:22. Among the ancients women were generally employed in the office of porters or doorkeepers. Such were employed about the house of the high priest in our Lord's time; for a woman is actually represented as keeping the door of the palace of the high priest, John 18:17 : Then saith the Damsel that Kept The Door unto Peter; see also Matthew 26:69. In 2 Samuel 4:6, both the Septuagint and Vulgate make a woman porter or doorkeeper to Ishbosheth. Aristophanes mentions them in the same office, and calls them Σηκις, Sekis, which seems to signify a common maid-servant. Aristoph, in Vespis, ver. 768: -
Ὁτι την θυραν ανεῳξεν ἡ Σηκις λαθρα.
Homer, Odyss., ψ, ver. 225-229, mentions Actoris, Penelope's maid, whose office it was to keep the door of her chamber: -
Ακτορις - - -
Ἡ νωΐν ειρυτο θυρας πυκινου θαλαμοιο.
And Euripides, in Troad., ver. 197, brings in Hecuba, complaining that she who was wont to sit upon a throne is now reduced to the miserable necessity of becoming a doorkeeper or a nurse, in order to get a morsel of bread.
- - - η ταν
Παρα προθυροις φυλακαν κατεχουσα,
Η παιδων θρεπτειρα.
Sir John Chardin observes, that women are employed to keep the gate of the palace of the Persian kings. Plautus, Curcul., Acts 1, scene 1, mentions an old woman, who was keeper of the gate.
Anus hic solet cubitare, custos janitrix.
Many other examples might be produced. It is therefore very likely that the persons mentioned here, and in 1 Samuel 2:22, were the women who guarded the tabernacle; and that they regularly relieved each other, a troop or company regularly keeping watch: and indeed this seems to be implied in the original, צבאו tsabeu, they came by troops; and these troops successively consecrated their mirrors to the service of the tabernacle. See Calmet on John 18:16.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Exodus 30:18-21 You shall also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash with...
Exodus 40:7,30-32 And you shall set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shall put water therein...
1 Kings 7:23-26,38 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits...
Psalm 26:6 I will wash my hands in innocence: so will I compass your altar, O LORD:
Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
John 13:10 Jesus said to him, He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all.
Titus 3:5,6 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration...
Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth...
looking glasses. or, brazen glasses. The word maroth, from raah, to see, denotes reflectors, or mirrors, of any kind. That these could not have been looking glasses, as in our translation, is sufficiently evident, not only from the glass not being then in use, but also from the impossibility of making the brazen laver of such materials. The first mirrors known among men, were the clear fountain and unruffled lake. The first artificial ones were made of polished brass, afterwards of steel, and when luxury increased, of silver; but at a very early period, they were made of a mixed metal, particularly of tin and copper, the best of which as Pliny informs us, were formerly manufactured at Brundusium. When the Egyptians went to their temples, according to Cyril, they always carried their mirrors with them. The Israelitish women probably did the same; and Dr. Shaw says, that looking-glasses are still part of the dress of Moorish women, who carry them constantly hung at their breasts. Assembling. Heb. assembling by troops. It is supposed that these women kept watch during the night. Among the ancients, women were generally employed as door-keepers.
1 Samuel 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did to all Israel...
Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the man that hears me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came to him, saying, You also were with Jesus of Galilee.
Luke 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple...
John 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known to the high priest...
1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.
Exodus 38:8 Parallel CommentariesAssembled Assembling Base Basin Brass Congregation Copper Crowded Crowds Door Doors Doorway Entrance Foot Laver Meeting Ministered Ministering Mirrors Moreover Opening Served Service Serving ses Stand Tabernacle Tent Thereof Using Washing-Vessel Women WorkAssembled Assembling Base Basin Brass Congregation Copper Crowded Crowds Door Doors Doorway Entrance Foot Laver Meeting Ministered Ministering Mirrors Moreover Opening Served Service Serving ses Stand Tabernacle Tent Thereof Using Washing-Vessel Women WorkTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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