(חוֹתָם, chotham, σφραγίς). The seal, together with the staff, has been in tile East from the earliest times (Ge 38:18) the favorite trinket of the men (see Song 8:6; Hag 2:23; Jer 22:24; Sir. 17:22; comp. Rosenmuller, Morgenl. 6:252). Both are included in the attire of the Babylonians (Herod. i, 195; Strabo, 16:746). It was attached, as still in Persia, by a cord, and worn upon the bosom or in a finger-ring on the right hand (Ge 41:42; Es 3:10,8; Es 8:2; Jer 22:24; comp. Chardin, 4:23; v, 454 sq.; Robinson, i, 58, and see especially Longus, De AnnuL Sign. [Mail. 1615; Lips. 1709]). The art of graving seals is an ancient one (Ex 28:11). The seal usually contains no figures (yet see the drawing of one found at Cusa, in Ker Porter, Tray. i, 425, pl. lxxx, 2), but simply the name of the wearer, sometimes with a sentence from the Koran, and it is customary to give an impression of it instead of a signature (Chardin, i, 289, 355; iii, 112, 362, 366, with plates; Olearins, Trav. p. 633; Rosenmuller, Morgenl. iii, 205 sq. Comp. Curtius, iii, 6, 7; Herod. iii, 128). For this purpose the seal is moistened with a kind of black ink (Harmer, Obs. ii, 468, 470; iii, 478); but in sealing letters (1Ki 21:8; comp. Josephus, Life, p. 44), bags (Job 14:17), and sacks (Mishna, Shabb. 8:5), as well as doors, clay or sealing-earth was used (ibid.). Among the Jews the women also carried seal-rings (ibid. 6:3). Eastern princes confer the dignity of minister or regent by tbe deliver)-of the state-sea], or a seal-ring (Ge 41:42; Es 3:10; Es 8:2; Es 1 Mace. 6:15; comp. Curtius, 10:5, 4; Aristoph. Eq.
947; see Schulz, Leitung, 4:218 sq.; Tournefort, Voyage, ii, 383), and sometimes they invested successors in the same manner (Josephus, Ant. 20:2, 3), In the later language of the Jews the word chotam meant a counter or token, perhaps with a seal. Such were Used in the second Temple (Mishna, Shekal. v, 3 sq.), and a special officer of the seals was stationed there (ibid. v, 1). SEE RING
The seal, with the owner's name or some other device engraven upon it, was usually employed to authenticate public or private documents. Seals for this purpose, made of burned clay, or of copper, silver, gold, or precious stones set in metal, were anciently used in the East. Sometimes the signet-ring was used for this purpose (Ge 38:18; Jer 32:10). If a door had to be sealed, it was first fastened with some ligament, over which was placed some well-compacted clay, and then impressed with the seal, so that any violation of it would be discovered at once (Job 38:14; Song 4:12; Mt 27:66). Important documents were sometimes put in sealed bags and enclosed in earthenware vessels for greater security (De 32:34; Jer 32:14; Job 14:17). The seal, if a cylinder, was rolled on the moist clay, hence Job says, "it is turned as clay to the seal" (Job 38:14); and sometimes the tablet or impression was placed in the furnace and baked. The term "sealed" is sometimes used figuratively for that which is permanent (Isa 8:16) and confirmed (Joh 6:29; Ro 4:11), also for that which is to be kept secret until the appointed time (Da 8:26; Da 12:4,9). So also the "book or roll sealed with seven seals" symbolized the plan of the divine government, which is impenetrable to every creature, but fully comprehended by the Saviour, who is exalted to the throne of the universe (Re 5:2-8). The "seal of the living God," on Which is supposed to be engraven the name of "Jehovah," which was impressed upon the foreheads of the faithful, symbolizes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (7:2-17; Eph 1:13-14; Eph 6:24; 2Co 1:22; Eze 9:4,6; 2Ti 2:19). SEE SIGNET.