Nose, Nostrils

NOSE, NOSTRILS. It is not hard to see why the nose should be regarded as the organ of anger in the body. Job, in telling of God’s power and in particular His anger, says, “Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke.” David uses the same imagery in 2 Samuel 22:9. Anger is associated with the idea of heat. When a person becomes angry the muscles of his body become tense in readiness to deal with the object of anger. The body movements become forceful and swift. When the tensed respiratory muscles act in this way, the result is a snort. As Job says, “His majestic snorting is terrible” (Job 39:20). For the use of the word to indicate passion, see Job 27:3.

The concrete imagery of Heb. uses the phrase “elevation of the nose” to express human pride. This is the literal tr. of part of Psalm 10:4, which depicts a man who sees no need of God. The proud person elevates his face to make himself a little higher than the surroundings he despises.

The Hebrews did not consider the respiratory system any further than its entrance and so the nose was regarded as containing the breath of life rather than the lungs (Gen 2:7; 7:22).

A ring in the nose was usually a sign of subjection (except Isa 3:21) and something by which a captive could be led. (See Job 41:2.)

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