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The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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EARRING:

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 "naẓm," 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 viii. 26). The references in Ex. xxxii. 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 (Ezek. xvi. 12). It is true that this word occurs also in Num. xxxi. 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 (Gen. xxxv. 4). The Targum and the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch always translate by (Syriac, "ḳadasha"), 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 Isa. iii. 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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