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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Earring

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A ring or hook passed through the lobe of the ear. Earrings, so widely used by Eastern peoples, have no particular designation in Hebrew. The word is applied to both the ornament for the ear and that for the nose so that when this term occurs in the Bible, it may mean either. When the writer wished to specify, he added the word to indicate earrings, or to indicate noserings. The word ("stringed ornament"), the equivalent of the Arabic "naẓ m," induces one to suppose that the primitive form of the ear-pendants was a string of pearls, beads, etc., of a globular form. It is perhaps this shape which is indicated by the word (lit. "drops," Judges 8:26 ). The references in Exodus 32:2 and Judges l.c. to earrings of gold, show at the same time that there also existed earrings of other materials. It was not until the time of Ezekiel that earrings acquired a circular form, and were then called ( Ezekiel 16:12 ). It is true that this word occurs also in Numbers 31:50 , but there is nothing to indicate that it means "earrings." The passage in Exodus proves that earrings were worn by women and by the youth of both sexes.

Earrings seem to have been regarded by Eastern nations as sacred things— some scholars even suggest as amulets— for the sons of Jacob surrendered their earrings with the idols which Jacob afterward concealed under the oak-tree (Genesis 35:4 ). The Targum and the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch always translate by (Syriac, "ḳ adasha"), which Buxtorf ("Lex. Rab." s.v. ) supposes to mean "the ornament consecrated to Astarte" but there is no proof that this belief in the sacredness of earrings was current among the ancient Hebrews. If the word , occurring in Isaiah 3:20 , A. V., really means "earrings," the latter are so called because, these ornaments being suspended from the ears, they are figuratively looked upon as whispering to the wearer.

E. G. H. M. Sel.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Earring'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/e/earring.html. 1901.

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