Exodus 38:8 provides an interesting detail concerning the composition of the basins for the cleansing of the priests in the tabernacle: the basins are composed of bronze "from the mirrors of the serving women who serve at the entrance to the tent of meeting." This verse has proven particularly controversial in the history of interpretation. While the idea apparently underlying the verse is that these mirrors of bronze (or perhaps some other metal) had been melted down to make the basin, the verse has been the subject of much speculation concerning both its interpretation and the correlated implications it may have for the role and place of women in the Israelite cult. I provide a new approach to this problematic verse by utilizing comparative evidence for mirrors from across the eastern Mediterranean. Both the material evidence of mirrors and the literary texts that describe them flesh out our picture of the uses, functions, and associations that came along with mirrors in the ancient world. Far from being a problematic addition to the description of the tabernacle basins, Exod 38:8 is entirely appropriate in its depiction of the women gifting mirrors.


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pp. 595-612
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