There are quite a few references to earrings in the Old Testament. We will look at a few of them and see what we can learn from them. The first reference is found in Genesis 35:2 & 4: “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments…So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the EARRINGS WHICH WERE IN THEIR EARS; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem” (NKJV). Jacob commanded his family to get rid of all their idols and since the earrings are mentioned with the idols we can conclude that they were somehow associated with the idols. So, the very first mention of earrings had to do with idolatry. Are there other references to earrings that had a connection to idolatry? Consider the following:

Exodus 32:2-4: “And Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people broke off the GOLDEN EARRING which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.” This took place shortly after the Israelites escaped from Egypt and the earrings were most likely taken from the Egyptians for we learn in Exodus 12:35 that they took “from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing.” We don’t know if these earrings were connected with idol worship in Egypt, but we do know that the people of Israel donated them to Aaron for the express purpose of making a golden calf.

Judges 8:24: “Then Gideon said to them, ‘I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the EARRINGS from the plunder.’ For they had GOLDEN EARRINGS, because they were Ishmaelites.” Here again, the earrings are not literal idols, but like the Eygptians the Ishmaelites were very fond of jewelry and thus when they were defeated by Israel they were taken as a prized possession. We see in verses 25 & 26 that they “spread out a garment, and each man threw into it the earrings from the plunder…the weight of the gold earrings…was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold.” We are glad they were willing to give them up to Gideon, but the following verses teach us these same earrings were made into an idol. Verse 27 tells us that “Gideon made it into an ephod…and all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.” In other words, the “ephod” which was no doubt made for priestly services, became an idol to them and they worshiped it.”

But earrings were also used for good purposes, as we see in Numbers 31:50: “Therefore we have brought an offering to the LORD, what every man found of ornaments of gold: armlets and bracelets and signet rings and EARRINGS and necklaces, to make an atonement for ourselves before the LORD.” Here we see soldiers in Israel taking the jewelry they had taken from their enemies and giving it as a “free-will offering” to the Lord!

From the verses we’ve looked at so far, one might assume that “wearing earrings and other jewelry is sinful.” In the Song of Solomon we have a love story between Solomon and a Shulamite woman and one of the things that caught the eye of Solomon was her beauty. In 1:10 he states, “Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold” (KJV). There is no hint here at all of her jewelry being associated with idols or that the jewelry itself was being worshiped by her; it was merely an ornament that added to her physical beauty and was meant only to attract the eyes of her true love, Solomon.

I believe it is fitting to close with 1st Timothy 2:9-10: “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” We had just seen the Shulamite woman arrayed with “rows of jewels” and “chains of gold,” but the Christian woman of today should be arrayed with “modest apparel” and “good works.” It’s not that it is wrong to wear jewelry, including earrings, but they should not be worn to attract men to their “outward beauty. A woman “professing godliness” will avoid expensive clothing and flashy jewelry so that her “inner beauty” can shine out. The apostle Peter put it this way, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1st Peter 3:3-4). (245.5) (DO)