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EARRING. Earrings have been a popular ornament from the remotest antiquity, the earliest mention in Genesis 35:4. Earrings are frequently mentioned in the OT. The earring mentioned in Genesis 24:47 (KJV) is rendered a nose ring in the RSV. They were often regarded as amulets or talismans (Gen 35:4), as they still are in the E. Among all Oriental peoples, except the Hebrews and Egyptians, earrings were in general use by both sexes; but Exodus 32:2 shows that at least in the time of Moses they were also worn by Israelite boys. In the W they have been largely female ornaments. Judges 8:24, 25 records that the Ishmaelites wore earrings. Prior to the 4th cent. b.c., Gr. statues had the ear lobes perforated so that earrings might be hung from them. Usually they were made of gold or silver.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


An ornamental pendant of some kind hanging from the ears has been worn by both sexes in oriental lands from the earliest times. Among the Greeks and Romans, as with western peoples in general, its use was confined to females. The ears in the statue of the Medicean Venus are pierced and probably were originally ornamented with earrings. It is clear, however, that among the Hebrews and related oriental peoples earrings were worn by both sexes. Abraham’s servant "put the earring upon (Rebekah’s) face, and the bracelets upon her hands" (Ge 24:47 King James Version), in accordance with custom, evidently, but it is implied that it was customary for men also to wear earrings, in that the relatives and friends of Job "every one (gave him) an earring of gold" (Job 42:11 King James Version).

Such ornaments were usually made of gold, finely wrought, and often set with precious stones, as archaeology has shown. Such jewels were worn in ancient times for protective as well as for decorative purposes. the Revised Version (British and American) renders "amulets" for the King James Version "earrings" in Isa 3:20, the Hebrew word (lechashim) being elsewhere associated with serpent-charming; but the earrings of Ge 35:4, also, were more than mere ornaments, so the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) may both be right in their renderings here (Kennedy). The influence of Egypt, where amulets of various kinds were worn by men and gods, by the living and the dead, is shown by recent excavations at Gezer, Taanach and Megiddo.


George. B. Eager