Earrings in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

nezem, which also includes the nose ring hanging on one side of the nose (Genesis 24:47, where the words "upon her face" imply either a nose ring or one to be hung from her forehead, Genesis 35:4). Circular, as its other name 'agil implies. Oriental men wore them as well as women. Judges 8:24 seems to imply that the Israelite men did not wear them, as did the Ishmaelites; but Exodus 32:2 proves that young "sons" wore them. There were besides netiphot (Judges 8:26), not "collars" but pearlshaped "ear drops," or jewels attached to the rings, or else pendent scent bottles, or pendants from the neck on the breast, "Chains" KJV (Isaiah 3:19; Isaiah 3:21), "earrings" (leehashim, from laachash "to whisper"), AMULETS with magic inscriptions, and so surrendered along with the idols by Jacob's household (Genesis 35:4). The best use made of them was that in Numbers 31:50, an offering to the Lord to "make atonement for souls"; not that our gifts can wipe away guilt, but acknowledgments of God's grace not being offered in loving gratitude evince an unatoned state, and so a state of guilt. When offered in loving faith, they evidence and seal visibly our reception of the atonement (Luke 7:44-47). The "phylacteries," headbands, totapkot (Matthew 23:5) in the Talmudists' opinion were the sanctioned antidote to the idolatrous amulets and "earrings" (Deuteronomy 6:7-8; Deuteronomy 11:18-19; contrast Hosea 2:13; Isaiah 3:21, lechashim. But the language in Deuteronomy and in Exodus 13:9; Exodus 13:16 is rightly taken by the Karaite Jews as proverbial, not literal; as is apparent from the reason added, "that the law of Jehovah may be in thy mouth"; for it is by receiving the law into the heart, and by keeping it, that it would be naturally on the tongue continually. God does not say that His law was to be written upon scrolls, but to be "for a sign upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes," i.e., was to be kept in view like memorials upon the forehead and the hand, the prominent visible parts symbolizing respectively open confession and action (Revelation 13:16; Revelation 22:4). This view is proved by Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 4:21; Proverbs 6:21-22; Proverbs 7:3. But latterly the Jews used the "phylacteries," totaphot, or tephillim, prayer fillets, parchment strips with sentences of the law, bound on the forehead or left arm during prayer.

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