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Glass is a hard, relatively brittle, transparent or translucent substance that forms from the high temperature fusing of silicates (commonly found in sand). Various metallic oxides included within can give it a wide range of colors. Glass can be found naturally, such as the volcanic obsidian, but has also been made by humans for thousands of years, perhaps discovered by accident when rough pieces of it were found after intense fires, or even lightning strikes.

Glass Glass was known to The Ancient Egyptians from at least 1500 BC when bottles, containers and ornaments such as beads were made. The ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia (see Ancient Empires - Assyria and Ancient Empires - Babylon) also knew and made glass - a glass bottle with the name of King Sargon was found in the ruins of his palace.

The ancient Hebrew people seemed to use pottery much more than glass (mirrors in both the Old and New Testament times were most often made from polished metal). Surprisingly, glass is mentioned specifically only once in the Old Testament, where it was valued very highly:

"But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. The deep says, 'It is not in me,' and the sea says, 'It is not with me.' It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold." (Job 28:12-17 RSV)

Glass is also mentioned infrequently in the New Testament - Paul and James, in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and James 1:23-24 respectively, were not speaking of a mirror of glass, but of polished bronze, since the original Greek word of the Scriptures meant bronze. Glass is actually mentioned only as an analogy in describing the area around the throne of God, and for the purity of the gold in the New Jerusalem:

"Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads. From the throne issue flashes of lightning, and voices and peals of thunder, and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle." (Revelation 4:4-7 RSV)

"And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and wonderful are Thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are Thy ways, O King of the ages!" (Revelation 15:2-3 RSV)

"The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man's measure, that is, an angel's. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass." (Revelation 21:16-21 RSV)

Fact Finder: Do humans live in figurative "glass houses"?
See Glass Houses

This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Which of the 4 rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden had a name beginning with a "T"?

2. Which of the 4 rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden had a name beginning with a "E"?

3. Which of the 4 rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden had a name beginning with a "G"?

4. Which of the 4 rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden had a name beginning with a "P"?

5. What great sea bordered the land of Israel on the west?

6. On what sea did Jesus walk on the water?

7. Near what sea were Sodom and Gomorrah located?

8. What river did the Israelites cross when they entered the Promised Land?

9. In what sea is the island of Patmos located?

10. What great African river flows through Egypt?

For the answers to this April 10 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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