And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of
Not of the brass of the offering, for of that were made the brazen altar, its grate and vessels, the sockets of the court and court gate, and the pins of the tabernacle, ( Exodus 38:29-31 ) but no mention is made there of the laver; for that was made, as here said,
of the looking glasses of [the women] assembling, which assembled
at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation;
though these are called looking glasses, it is not to be supposed that they were made of glass as ours are; for of what use could such be in the making of a brazen laver? Some indeed choose to read the words "with the looking glasses" F4, and take the sense to be, that there were looking glasses about the laver, affixed to it, that when the priests came to wash, they might see their spots, and the better know how to cleanse themselves from them: but it should be observed, that the priests did not come hither to wash their faces, but their hands and feet, ( Exodus 30:19 ) and so stood in no need of looking glasses for that purpose. The particle (b) is here, as Aben Ezra observes, instead of (m) , and denotes the matter of which the laver was made, and therefore these instruments to behold the face in, or those mirrors, were of brass, as both he and Philo the Jew F5 affirm; and, indeed, what else could they be, for a laver of brass to be made of? mirrors in former times were made of various sorts of metal polished, some of gold, some of silver, some of brass, and some of brass and tin F6; and the Indians to this day have mirrors made of brass, well polished, and exactly represent the complexion F7. Pliny says F8, that those of Brundusium, which were made of brass and tin mixed, were with the ancient Romans reckoned the best. Aristotle F9 speaks of mirrors of brass, and of their receiving and showing the least touch, because the brass is smooth and polished; and so in our times, there are such as are made of polished steel, and even of burnished brass too: De la Hay
F11 says that he had one in his study, which was given him, made of brass of Damascus, and was so finely polished that no crystal one could give a truer sight of the face than that; however, it is certain the ancients used such kind of mirrors; see ( Job 37:18 ) these the good women of Israel, in their great zeal, brought for the service of the sanctuary, though they were of daily use, and peculiarly serviceable to them in their dressing; for though the word "women" is not in the text, it is rightly supplied, as it is in all the three Targums, the word being feminine, and as may be justified by a parallel passage, ( 1 Samuel 2:22 ) indeed Varenius F12 proposes another, rendering the words thus,
``of the looking glasses in great number gathered together, which they had heaped together at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation;''but the word used is active and not passive, and is used of persons gathering together, and not of things gathered, as appears from the above quoted place, and others; and these women gathered together, not for devotion and religion, to pray, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it, or to pray, and hear the words of the law, as Aben Ezra, much less to bear any part in the ministry and service of the sanctuary, which as yet was not built; for this tabernacle of the congregation was no other than the tent of Moses, or, however, some little tabernacle erected while the other was preparing, see ( Exodus 33:7 ) hither the women crowded with their mirrors of brass for the service of the sanctuary; for the word signifies an assembling in troops like an army; and they came in great numbers and beset the door of the tent where Moses was, that he might take their offerings at their hands; not but that it will be allowed that devout women sometimes did assemble at the tabernacle and temple, to perform acts of religion and devotion; but this seems not to be the case here, nor this a time and place for it; see ( 1 Samuel 2:22 ) ( Luke 2:37 ) .
F4 (tarmb) "cum speculis", Oleaster.
F5 De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 673.
F6 Vid. Doughtei Analecta Sacr. excurs. 44. p. 124.
F7 Agreement of Customs between the East Indians and Jews, art. 15. p. 65.
F8 Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 9. & l. 34. c. 17.
F9 De Insomniis, c. 2.
F11 Apud Habikhorst. de mulier. Zobheoth in Thesaur. Theolog. Philolog. vol. 1. p. 321.
F12 Apud ib. p. 318.