Ornament is the usual and proper rendering in the O.T. of the Hebrew עֲדַי, adi (Sept. usually κόσμος). The Israelites, like other Oriental nations, have always been remarkable for their love of ornament (Ge 24:47; Ex 32:2; Ex 33:4, etc.), not only in costly garments and braiding the hair (1Pe 3:3 SEE HAIR ), but also in jewelry and gold (Eze 28:13 sq.). The men were usually content to wear simply seal-rings, SEE SEAL, and indulged in expensive attire only on solemn or public occasions; unless their position, as in the case of princes, required more display (Ps 45:5; 2Sa 12:30; 2Sa 2 Maccabees 4:38, etc.). But the women, especially young damsels and brides, wore many and very valuable ornaments (2Sa 1:24; Jer 2:32; Isa 3:17 sq.; 61:10; Jg 10:4; Jg 12:15; comp. Es 2:12), generally in the form of rings, chains, and bracelets. Sometimes the young women purposely made themselves publicly conspicuous by their adornments (Baruch 6:8; i.e. Epist. Jerem. 8). During times of mourning, in obedience to a natural impulse, all ornaments were laid aside (Ex 33:4 sq.; 2Sa 1:24; Eze 24:17,22). Ornaments are enumerated in various passages (see Isa 3:18 sq.; Ho 2:12; Eze 16:11). Among the ornaments peculiar to females was the golden head-dress in the form of the holy city (see Mishna, Edujoth, 2:7, עיר של זחב, so explained by the rabbins). Idols were also adorned with gold and jewels (Jer 10:4; Baruch 6:10, 23; 2 Maccabees 2:2), as now the images of the Virgin in the Roman churches. SEE ATTIRE; SEE EPHOD.
The number, variety, and weight of the ornaments ordinarily worn upon the person form one of the characteristic features of Oriental costume, both in ancient and modern times (see Thomson, Land and Book, 1:184 sq.; Van Lennep, Bible Lands, p. 531 sq.). The monuments of ancient Egypt exhibit the hands of ladies loaded with rings, earrings of very great size, anklets. armlets, bracelets of the most varied character and frequently inlaid with precious stones or enamel, handsome and richly ornamented necklaces, either of gold or of beads, and chains of various kinds (Wilkinson, 2:335- 341). The modern Egyptians retain to the full the same taste, and vie with their progenitors in the number and beauty of their ornaments (Lane, vol. iii, Appendix A). Nor is the display confined, as with us, to the upper classes; we are told that "even most of the women of the lower orders wear a variety of trumpery ornaments, such as ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc., and sometimes a nose-ring" (Lane, 1:78). There is sufficient evidence in the Bible that the inhabitants of Palestine were equally devoted to finery. In the Old Testament, Isaiah (Isa 3:18-23) supplies us with a detailed description of the articles with which the luxurious women of his day were decorated, and the picture is filled up by incidental notices in other places; in the New Testament the apostles lead us to infer the prevalence of the same habit when they recommend the women to adorn themselves, "not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but with good works" (1Ti 2:9-10), — even with "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1Pe 3:4). Ornaments were most lavishly displayed at festivals, whether of a public (Ho 2:13) or a private character, particularly on the occasion of a wedding (Isa 61:10; Jer 2:32). In times of public mourning they were, on the other hand, laid aside (Ex 33:4-6).
With regard to the particular articles noticed in the Old Testament, it is sometimes difficult to explain their form or use, as the name is the only source of information open to us. Much illustration may, however, be gleaned both from the monuments of Egypt and Assyria and from the statements of modern travelers; and we are in all respects in a better position to explain the meaning of the Hebrew terms than were the learned men of the Reformation mera. We propose, therefore, to review the passages in which the personal ornaments are described, substituting, where necessary, for the readings of the A. V. the more correct sense in italics, and referring for more detailed descriptions of the articles to the various heads under which they may be found. The notices which occur in the early books of the Bible imply the weight and abundance of the ornaments worn at that period. Eliezer decorated Rebekah with "a golden
nose-ring (נֶזֶם , nezem) of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets (צָמַיד, tsamid) for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold" (Ge 24:22); and he afterwards added "trinkets (כּלַי., keli, articles in general) of silver and trinkets of gold" (verse 53). Earrings (נֶזֵם בּאָזנֵיהֶם "nezemn in their ears") were worn by Jacob's wives, apparently as charms, for they are mentioned in connection with idols: "They gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and their ear-rings which were in their ears" (Ge 35:4). The ornaments worn by the patriarch Judah were a "signet" (חוֹתָם, chotham), which was suspended by a string (פָּתַיל,pathil) round the neck, and a "staff" (Ge 37:18): the staff itself was probably ornamented, and thus the practice of the Israelites would be exactly similar to that of the Babylonians, who, according to Herodotus (1:195), "each carried a seal, and a walking-stick, carved at the top into the form of an apple, a rose, an eagle, or something similar." The first notice of the ring occurs in reference to Joseph: when he was made ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh "took off his signet-ring (טִבִּעִת, tabbdath; in this, as in other cases [Es 3:10; Es 8:2; Es 1 Maccabees 6:15], not merely an ornament, but the symbol of authority) from his hand and put it upon Joseph's hand, and put a gold chain (רָבַיד, rabid; also a chain worn by a woman [Esther 16:11]) about his neck" (Ge 41:42), the latter being probably a "simple gold chain in imitation of string, to which a stone scarabseus, set in the same precious metal, was appended" (Wilkinson, 2:339). The number of personal ornaments worn by the Egyptians, particularly by the females, is incidentally noticed in Ex 3:22: "Every woman shall ask (A. V. "borrow") of her neighbor trinkets (כּלַי, keli, as above) of silver and trinkets of gold. and ye shall spoil the Egyptians." In Ex 11:2, the order is extended to the males, and from this time we may perhaps date the more frequent use of trinkets among men, for while it is said in the former passage, — "Ye shall put them nupon your sons and upon your daughters," we find subsequent notices of ear-rings being worn at all events by young men (Ex 32:2), and again of offerings both from men and women of "nose-rings (חָח, chach, A. V, "bracelets;" some authorities prefer the sense "buckle;" in other passages the same word signifies the ring placed through the nose of an animal, such as a bull, to lead him by) and ear-rings, and rings, and riicklaes (כּוּמָז, kuuma, A.V. . "tablets;" a necklace formed of perforated gold drops strung together), all articles of gold" (Ex 35:22). The profusion of these ornaments was such as to supply sufficient gold for making the sacred utensils for the tabernacle, while the laver of brass was constructed out of the brazen mirrors (מִראוֹת, maroth) which the women carried about with them (Ex 38:8). The Midianites appear to have been as prodigal as the Egyptians in the use of ornaments; for the Israelites are described as having captured "trinkets of gold," armlets (אֶצעָדָה , etsadah, A. V. "chains;" cognate term, used in Isa 3:20, means "stepchain;" but the word is used both here and in 2Sa 1:10 without reference to its etymological sense) and bracelets, rings, ear-rings (עָגַיל, agil, a circular ear-ring of a solid character), and necklaces" (כּוּמָז, kumaz, as above), the value of which amounted to 16,750 shekels (Nu 31:50,52). Equally valuable were the ornaments obtained from the same people after their defeat by Gideon: "The weight of the golden nose-rings (נֶזֶם, nezem, as above; the term is here undefined; but, as ear-rings are subsequently noticed in the verse, we think it probable that the nose-ring is intended) was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; besides collars (שִׂהֲרֹנַים , saharonim, A. V. "ornaments;" the word specifies moon- shaped disks of metal, strung on a cord, and placed around the necks either of men or of camels) and ear-pendants (נטַיפוֹת, netiphoth, A. V. "collars" or "sweet-jewels;" the etymological sense of the word is pendants, which were no doubt attached to ear-rings) (Jg 8:26).
The poetical portions of the O.T. contain numerous references to the ornaments worn by the Israelites in the time of their highest prosperity. The appearance of the bride is thus described in the book of the Canticles: "Thy cheeks are comely with beads (תּוֹרַים, torim, A. V. "rows;"' the term means, according to Gesenius [Thes. p. 1499], rows of pearls or beads; but as the etymological sense is connected with circle, it may rather mean the individual beads, which might be strung together, and so make a row, encircling the cheeks. In the next verse the same word is rendered in the A. V. "borders." The sense must, however, be the same in both verses, and the point of contrast may perchance consist in the difference of the material, the beads in ver. 10 being of some ordinary metal, while those in ver. 11 were to be of gold), thy neck with perforated [pearls] (חֲרוּזַים, charuzim, A. V. "chains;" the word would apply to any perforated articles, such as beads, pearls, coral, etc.); we will make thee beads, of gold with studs of silver" (1, 10, 11). Her neck, rising tall and stately "like the tower of David builded for an armory," was decorated with various ornaments hanging like the "thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men, on the walls of the armory" (4:4); her hair, falling gracefully over her neck, is described (4:9) figuratively as a "chain" (עֲנָק, anak), and "the roundings" (not as in the A. V. "the joints") of her thighs are likened to the pendant (תּלָאַים, "jewels;" rather this is the lace-work fringe of the drawers enveloping the lower limbs) of an ear-ring, which tapers gradually downwards (7:1). So again we read of the bridegroom: "his eyes are... fitly set," as if they were gems filling the sockets of rings (v. 12): "his hands are as gold rings (גּלַילַים, gelilim) set with the beryl," i.e. (as explained by Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 287) the fingers when curved are like gold rings, and the nails dyed with henna resemble gems (rather the fingers had rings literally). Lastly, the yearning after close affection is expressed thus: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm," whether that the seal itself was the most valuable personal ornament worn by a man, as in Jer 22:24; Hag 2:23, or whether perchance the close contiguity of the seal to the wax on which it is impressed may not rather be intended (Song 8:6). We may further notice the imagery employed in the Proverbs to describe the effects of wisdom in beautifying the character; in reference to the terms used we need only explain that the "ornament" of the A. V. in 1:9; 4:9, is more specifically a wreath (לַויָה, livyah), or garland; the "chains" of 1:9, the drops (עִנָק, anak, as above) of which the necklace was formed; the "jewel of gold in a swine's snout" of 11:22, a nose-ring (נֶזֶם, nezem, as above); the "jewel" of 20:15, a trinket, and the "ornament" of 25:12, an ear-pendant (חֲלַי, chali, as above).
The passage of Isaiah (Isa 3:18-23) to which we have already referred may be rendered as follows: (18) "In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their anklets (עֲכָסַים, akasinu), and their lace caps (שֶׁבַיסַים, shebisim,; rather, perhaps, disks attached to the necklace), and their necklaces (lunettes); (19) the ear-pendants, and the bracelets, and the light veils; (20) the turbans, and the step-chains, and the girdles, and the scent-bottles, and the amulets; (21) the rings and noserings; (22) the state-dresses, and the cloaks, and the shawls, and the purses; (23) the mirrors, and the fine linen shirts, and the turbans, and the light dresses." The following extracts from the Mishna (Sabb. cap. vi) illustrate the subject of this article, it being premised that the object of the inquiry was to ascertain what constituted a proper article of dress. and what might be regarded by rabbinical refinement as a burden "A woman must not go out (on the Sabbath) with linen or woolen laces, nor with the straps on her head; nor with a frontlet and pendants thereto, unless sewn to her cap; nor with a golden tower (i.e. an ornament in the shape of a tower); or with a tight gold chain; nor with nose-rings; nor with finger-rings on which there is no seal; nor with a needle without an eye (§ 1); nor with a needle that has an eye; nor with a finger-ring that has a seal on it; nor with a diadem; nor with a smelling-bottle or balm-flask (§ 3). A man is not to go out... with an amulet, unless it be by a distinguished sage (§ 2): knee-buckles are clean, and a man may go out with them; stepchains are liable to become unclean, and a man must not go out with them "(§ 4). See each article named in its place.