Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rings Showing Authority

And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
Genesis 38:18

The articles most appropriate to a patriarch were, “a staff, a signet-ring, and bracelets.” Thus when Judah asked Tamar what pledge she desired from him, she replied, “Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand.” The ring was engraved with the name of the owner or with some emblem.

Both sexes wore rings, both for ornament and use. The one for use had seals or signets, and are much used today where the custom of sealing every document still prevails. A document without a seal would not be legal. A merchant’s letters and bills must be sealed.

The modern Egyptians wear the seal-ring on the little finger of the right hand. The ring is usually silver, with a carnelian or other stone, upon which is engraved the owner’s name. “Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph’s hand (Genesis 41:42).” “The king took his ring and gave it to Mordecai (Esther 8:42).” “It is turned as clay to the seal (Job 38:14).” In Egypt the granary doors were kept sealed, but not with wax. The inspectors put the seal of their rings upon a handful of clay and covered the lock.

The ring is still an emblem of authority in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, and other parts of the East. When Pharaoh placed his ring upon Joseph’s hand, it meant delegated power, and Pharaoh could have conferred no greater honor.

(Bowen, Barbara M., Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind, WM B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1944, pgs 51-52)

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the reasons I've always found the story of the prodigal son so powerful... The ring which the rejoicing father placed on his son's finger no doubt has symbolic meaning... in that the Father, if we've truly repented, truly will share with us all that He has.