Piercing in the Bible


If you want to get your nose pierced, and your parents tell you “no,” you can come back at them with the best excuse ever: It’s in the Torah.

Indeed, Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, was given a nose-ring and other beautiful jewelry when she got engaged. While making the Golden Calf–and again when they constructed the Tabernacle–the female Israelites donated nose-rings among the rest of their jewels. The prophet Ezekiel, when describing God’s tenderness to the Israelites, describes God “decking you out in finery…I put a ring in your nose, and earrings in your ears.”

In contrast to their nasal cousins, pierced ears get quite a bad reputation. The best-known instance of ear piercing in the Bible comes when iterating the procedure for a Jewish slave who was supposed to be released, but refuses to go free: “He shall be brought to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life” (Exodus 21:6).

When ear piercing became common in the Western world, it caused a stir among some rabbis. The decisions they reached–and the reasoning behind it–might surprise you. Check out some of the Jewish debate about piercing, and see for yourself.

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