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Toilette Of The Hebrew Lady
by [?]

III. Ear-rings of gold, silver, inferior metals, or even horn, were worn by the Hebrew women in all ages; and in the flourishing period of the Jewish kingdom, probably by men: and so essential an ornament were they deemed, that in the idolatrous times, even the images of their false gods were not considered becomingly attired without them. Their ear-rings were larger, according to the Asiatic taste; but whether quite large enough to admit the hand, is doubtful. In a later age, as we collect from the Thalmud, Part VI. 43, the Jewish ladies wore gold or silver pendants, of which the upper part was shaped like a lentil, and the lower hollowed like a little cup or pipkin. It is probable also, that, even in the oldest ages, it was a practice amongst them to suspend gold and silver rings, not merely from the lower, but also from the upper end of the ear, which was perforated like a sieve. The tinkling sound, with which, upon the slightest motion, two or three tiers of rings would be set a-dancing about the cheeks, was very agreeable to the baby taste of the Asiatics.

From a very early age, the ears of Hebrew women were prepared for this load of trinketry; for, according to the Thalmud, II. 23, they kept open the little holes, after they were pierced, by threads or slips of wood: a fact which may show the importance they attached to this ornament.

IV. Nose-rings, at an early period, became a universal ornament in Palestine. We learn, from Biblical and from Arabic authority, that it was a practice of Patriarchal descent amongst both the African and Asiatic Bedouins, to suspend rings of iron, wood, or braided hair, from the nostrils of camels, oxen, &c.–the; rope by which the animal was guided being attached to these rings. It is probable, therefore, that the early Hebrews who dwelt in tents, and who, in the barrenness of desert scenery, drew most of their hints for improving their personal embellishment from the objects immediately about them, were indebted for their nose-rings to this precedent of their camels. Sometimes a ring depended from both nostrils; and the size of it was equal to that of the ear-ring; so that, at times, its compass included both upper and under lip, as in the frame of a picture; and, in the age succeeding to Solomon’s reign, we hear of rings which were not less than three inches in diameter. Hebrew ladies of distinction had sometimes a cluster of nose-rings, as well for the tinkling sound which they were contrived to emit, as for the shining light which they threw off upon the face.

That the nose-ring possessed no unimportant place in the Jewish toilette, is evident, from its being ranked, during the nomadic state of the Israelites, as one of the most valuable presents that a young Hebrew woman could receive from her lover. Amongst the Midianites, who were enriched by the caravan commerce, even men adopted this ornament: and this appears to have been the case in the family to which Job belonged, [chap. xli. 2.] Under these circumstances, we should naturally presume that the Jewish courtezans, in the cities of Palestine, would not omit so conspicuous a trinket, with its glancing lights, and its tinkling sound: this we might presume, even without the authority of the Bible: but, in fact, both Isaiah and Ezekiel expressly mention it amongst their artifices of attraction.

Judith, when she appeared before the tent of Holofernes in the whole pomp of her charms, and appareled with the most elaborate attention to splendor of effect, for the purpose of captivating the hostile general, did not omit this ornament. Even the Jewish Proverbs show how highly it was valued; and that it continued to be valued in later times, appears from the ordinances of the Thalmud, II. 21, in respect to the parts of the female wardrobe which were allowed to be worn on the Sabbath.