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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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No custom is more ancient or universal than that of wearing earrings, from which it would appear to be a very natural idea to attach such an ornament to the pendulous lobe of the ear. Of the two words in Hebrew denoting earrings, one (; ) implies roundness, and it is a fact that nearly all the ancient earrings exhibited in the sculptures of Egypt and Persepolis are of a circular shape. The other word is also applied to a nose-jewel, from which we may suppose that it was a kind of earring, different from the other and more similar to the nose-jewel. Earrings of certain kinds were anciently, and are still, in the East, instruments or appendages of idolatry and superstition, being regarded as talismans and amulets. Such probably were the earrings of Jacob's family, which he buried with the strange gods at Bethel ().

No conclusion can be formed as to the shape of the Hebrew earrings except from the signification of the words employed, and from the analogy of similar ornaments in ancient sculpture. Those worn by the Egyptian ladies were large, round, single hoops of gold, from one inch and a half to two inches and one-third in diameter, and frequently of still greater size, or made of six single rings soldered together. Such probably was the round 'agil' of the Hebrews. Among persons of high or royal rank the ornament was sometimes in the shape of an asp, whose body was of gold set with precious stones [AMULET]. Silver earrings have also been found at Thebes, either plain hoops like the earrings of gold, or simple studs. The modern Oriental earrings are more usually jeweled drops or pendants than circlets of gold. But the writer has seen a small round plate of silver or gold suspended from a small ring inserted into the ear. This circular plate (about the size of a halfpenny) is either marked with fanciful figures or set with small stones. It is the same kind of thing which, in that country (Mesopotamia), is worn as a nose-jewel, and in it we perhaps find the Hebrew earring which is denoted by the same word that describes a nose-jewel.

The use of earrings appears to have been confined to the women among the Hebrews. That they were not worn by men is implied in , where gold earrings are mentioned as distinctive of the Ishmaelite tribes.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Earrings'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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