Ear

EAR (Heb. ’ōzen, Gr. ous, ōtion, the physical organ of hearing). In biblical times people spoke to each other’s ears; instead of listening they “inclined their ears.” When they prayed, God “bowed down his ear” to hear them. The ear had a significant part in some Jewish ceremonies. It was sanctified by blood in the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood (Exod.29.20; Lev.8.24) and at the cleansing of a leper (Lev.14.14). The piercing of the ear of a slave denoted permanent servitude (Exod.21.6; Deut.15.17).


EAR (אֹ֫זֶן, H265, οὐ̂ς, ὠτίον, little ear). The vital organ of hearing, while used in the physical sense often, more frequently involves the idea of understanding and obedient response. The tip of the right ear of the priests was touched with blood during their consecration (Lev 8:23f.). A servant who spurned freedom to continue in the service of his master had his ear bored with an awl to signify his continual subservience (Exod 21:6).


God is said to open men’s ears with the result that they gain understanding (Job 29:11) and display obedience (Isa 50:4, 5). Christ exhorted the disciples to “let these words sink into your ears” (Luke 9:44) implying a careful and heart-searching response. Probably the “digging” of David’s ears refers to this same capacity to respond to God’s voice (Ps 40:6).

In contrast to idols (135:17), God’s ears are not heavy (Isa 59:1, 2). Another reference to ears “heavy of hearing” appears in Matthew 13:15. Occasionally, the phrase “in the hearing of” equals “in the presence of” (1 Chron 28:8; Luke 4:21).

Cutting off ears was a feared practice of the enemy (Ezek 23:25). Peter’s severing of the ear of the servant in the garden marks the only occurrence of ὠτίον, G6065, the diminutive of οὐ̂ς, G4044, signifying the outer ear (Matt 26:51; Mark 14:47).

Bibliography

M. Dahood, Psalm I, in The Anchor Bible (1966), 246.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(’ozen; ous, otion, the latter word (literally, "earlet") in all the Gospels only used of the ear of the high priest’s servant, which was cut off by Peter: Mt 26:51; Mr 14:47; Lu 22:51 (not 22:50); Joh 18:10,26):