In the history of man, rich and poor have worn rings. The Bible makes references to three types of rings:
- Signet ring
- Nose ring (Proverbs 11:22; Ezekiel 16:12)
- Finger ring
- Earring (Genesis 35:4; Exodus 32:2)
Rings differed in designs and components. Designs ranged from single loop to ornate. Gold, silver or bronze made up the simplest designs, although as they became more ornate, artisans embedded precious metals.
Today, when people wear nose rings, they come off as rebellious youths. In the past, wearing nose rings was acceptable. Let’s see how and why the acceptance of wearing the ring has evolved over the centuries with references to the Bible.
Why People and Deities Wore a Blessing Ring
People wore rings to decorate themselves. And because rings were portable, they appealed to the rich in an age in which man hadn’t started to embed precious metals in coins.
The Israelites asked Egyptians for gold and silver as they prepared for the mass exit (Exodus 3:22). They carried some of the precious metals in rings (35:22).
Finger rings included a signet ring whose shape and purpose were unique. The shape of the lower part of the signet, whose top surface was flat, resembled the stirrup of a horse saddle.
The top surface had an etching, so when the wearer pressed the ring against a warm wax or a damp clay, a mark or seal arises. The seal was like a birthmark, fingerprint or signature, unique in a sense that no one mark was same as the other.
The uniqueness of the seal emphasized on confidence that the wearer is indeed genuine. Royals and nobles had distinguishable signet rings, so no one could reproduce their seals.
Delegation of authority involved passing down the signet ring. The seal of the signet ring carried authority, because it marked contracts, laws, agreements and orders.
Pharaoh gave Joseph a scarab, a popular form of signet ring in ancient Egypt, to delegate authority to him. The ring was one-of-a-kind because it embedded an inscription of the name of the Egyptian king (Genesis 41:42).
During Abrahamic times, wealth and ring went hand in hand. Isaac sent his father’s servant to Mesopotamia where Rebekah lived. Abraham’s wealth become apparent in the gifts his family sent as a betrothal for Rebekah. One of the gifts Rebekah received was a nose ring made of gold (Genesis 24:22).
Laban quickly realized Isaac’s wealth when he saw the nose ring. He invited the servant to a dinner (Genesis 24:30). James 2:2 reinforces the idea that a ring is a symbol of wealth.
Isaac symbolized his affection toward Rebekah by giving her the nose ring. Ezekiel gave an analogy. The Lord is a bridegroom and Jerusalem a bride. The Lord woos Jerusalem by supplying her with gifts, including the nose ring (Ezekiel 16:12).
Wedding Rings are Symbols of Faithfulness but Have Been Subject to Abuse
But instead of Jerusalem honoring the marriage, she succumbs to prostitution. With prostitution, the Lord meant that the people served other gods other than Him. They made idols out of jewelry the Lord gave them, and they worshipped them.
One can serve a single master at a time. But even a matter of time, because God has every right; sovereignty. We must serve Him and only Him (Ezekiel 16:17). Jerusalem gives an example of the consequences of too much emphasis on material wealth (Proverbs 11:22).
We also see in the Bible how Hosea’s wife betrayed him by using the rings her husband gave her to woo other lovers (Hosea 2:13). Just as Hosea’s wife used his symbol of love for her abusively against him, so did Jerusalem against the Lord.
The Lord also wore the signet ring symbolically. The blessing ring signified David descendants, a continuation of his throne to fulfil the covenant between God and Lord (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
When Jehoiachin disappoints Him, the Lord equates his removal with removing a signet ring from His finger. In other words, removing him from David’s lineage (Jeremiah 22:24). After David’s lineage was broken, the Lord restores the eternal dynasty by including Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:23).
For many centuries, as the Bible evidences, people have worn four type of rings: nose, finger, earring and signet. Rings symbolized love, affection, authority, wealth, faithfulness and covenant. While it was perfectly normal to wear a nose ring, today people see it as sign of a rebellion. The most outstanding cases of betrayals and intrigues in human history have involved the ring.