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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Bracelets

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Ornaments in the form of rings for the arm, worn by the Hebrews, as well as by all ancient peoples. Besides serving as ornaments they were also worn, like earrings and amulets, as a protection against demons (W. R. Smith, "Religion of the Semites," 2d ed., p. 453), and intended to protect the upper arm and the wrist, on which they were usually worn, from wounds. The women commonly adorned themselves thus; but Numbers 31:50 and 2 Samuel 1:10 show that men, especially men of rank, also wore such ornaments. An illustration printed in Layard's "Nineveh and its Remains" (p. 125, ed. 1849) shows that both arms were decorated, as is occasionally the custom with the Arabians to-day (Niebuhr, "Travels in Arabia and the Surrounding Countries," 1778, p. 164). The styles probably varied; and the bracelets may often have been coiled, like a snake (Wilkinson, "Ancient Egyptians," 2:342; Riehm, "Handwörterbuch," 1:115). Three words for "bracelet" occur in the Bible: (1) "eẓ'adah" (Numbers 31:50; 2 Samuel 1:10), for which Wellhausen proposes to read "haẓẓe'adah"; but compare Nestle, "Marginalien," p. 15, who defends the Masoretic text (in 2 Kings 11:12 probably "haẓẓe'adot" must be read instead of "ha'edut"); (2) "ẓamid" (Genesis 24:22, 30:47; Numbers 31:50; Ezekiel 16:11, 23:42; compare "ṣamadu"—to join, to tie together—which seems to denote the bracelet wornaround the wrist; while "eẓ'adah" or "ẓe'adah" was worn on the upper arm; compare Genesis 24:30,47; Numbers 31:50); (3) "sherah" (Isaiah 3:19; compare Targum, "shere yadayya," which does not mean "necklaces" but "bracelet," like the Arabic "siwar"). "Sher" in the Mishnah denotes not only the bracelet worn by men and women, but also the chain around the neck of a horse. To these may perhaps be added "rumaz" (Exodus 35:22; Numbers 31:50); compare Arabic "kumzat" = little ball, and often meaning little golden balls strung together, which, according to Diodorus Siculus, the Arabs were in the habit of wearing around the wrist. Others take it to mean a kind of necklace, which Diodorus also mentions.

J. Jr.
W. N.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Bracelets'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/b/bracelets.html. 1901.

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