To Wear or Not to Wear

That is the Question


There is a running debate among Messianics and even some Christians as to whether or not wearing earrings is okay according to the Bible. In the debate we encountered, the view was held that believers should not pierce their ears because so many in the world are piercing their bodies; that the Bible says not to pierce your bodies and that this is a pagan practice. After we personally encountered this issue, we decided to look into the Word and see if God had anything specific to say about this subject. We found that He did.


The first mentions of a ring of some kind were the following Scriptures:


When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring (Strong’s 5141) weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Genesis 24:22


As soon as he had seen the nose ring, (Strong’s 5141) and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. Genesis 24:30


"I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?' "She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him. "Then I put the ring (Strong’s 5141) in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, Genesis 24:47


About these items Abraham’s servant gave to Rebekah, the Bible says:


Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. Genesis 24:10-11


Scripture calls the items Abraham sent with his servant “good things.” This included the bracelets and whatever 5141 represents. According to Strong’s, it can be either a nose or earring.


Strong’s OT 5141: nexem (neh'-zem); from an unused root of uncertain meaning; a nose-ring, earring:


Next, we found:


10 YHWH restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and YHWH increased all that Job had twofold.  

11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that YHWH had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold (Strong’s 5141). Job 42:10-11


This “ring of gold” is part of the restoration of Job by YHWH God.


The next verse we found said:


            Like an earring of gold (5141) and an ornament of fine gold

            Is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:12


This comparison is positive: an earring is likened to be as a wise reprover to a listening ear: wise.


The next verse was:


So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings (5141) which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

Genesis 35:4


This seems negative, but also indefinitive as to the “rings” simply because they didn’t burn them or destroy them, but simply hid them. So, there’s no definite position given in this Scripture. Next, we found:


2 Aaron said to them, "Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me."
3 Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. Exodus 32:2-3

(each one is 5141)


This one again seems indefinitive to us. The Israelites had gold rings in their ears when they left Egypt. After leaving Egypt, YHWH did not require them to remove them. While it’s true they used them for a bad purpose, we can’t definitively say that they were pagan or evil from this text. Next:


21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought YHWH’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.

22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings (5141) and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to YHWH.

23 Every man, who had in his possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats' hair and rams' skins dyed red and porpoise skins, brought them.

Exodus 35:20-23


These earrings of gold were given, along with the other items, for the construction of the tabernacle. YHWH accepted them in the building of His earthly abode. To deem the earrings as pagan or bad, would mean that we’d have to treat the rest of the list equally. That makes no sense. To do so would mean that “bad” includes: brooches, signet rings, bracelets, all articles of gold, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, and rams’ skins. We think the reader can see that to label all these as “bad” because they are included with earrings is absurd! It is equally absurd to singly excerpt earrings from the list and label them alone, as “bad.”


The next Scripture we found said:


50 So we have brought as an offering to YHWH what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings (5141) and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before YHWH."

51 Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from them, all kinds of wrought articles.

52 All the gold of the offering which they offered up to YHWH, from the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, was 16,750 shekels.

53 The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself.

54 So Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it to the tent of meeting as a memorial for the sons of Israel before YHWH. Numbers 31:50-54


The items taken from the Midianites as booty in this passage were used as an offering to YHWH; an atonement. Unless we’re mistaken, we don’t believe pagan, thus “unclean” is ever an acceptable offering to YHWH!


Next we read:


24 Yet Gideon said to them, "I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil." (For they had gold earrings (5141), because they were Ishmaelites.)

25 They said, "We will surely give them." So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil.

26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels' necks.

27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

Judges 8:24-27


It appears that the men of Israel again took booty from the Ishmaelites. They were given to Gideon to make an ephod. Although it is true that the ephod became a snare for Gideon and his household, there is nothing wrong with an ephod, just as there was nothing wrong with the snake on the pole YHWH commanded Moses to make. However, what the people made of these things: idols/snares, was not good, but that is not YHWH’s fault.


Next we found earrings again in a list with other items:


8 In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments,

19 dangling earrings (5141), bracelets, veils,

20 headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets,

21 finger rings, nose rings,

22 festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses,

23 hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils. Isaiah 3:18-23


In this passage, YHWH is not happy with the daughters of Zion and is listing a punishment for them. However, to say that the earrings are pagan/evil means that we’d have to so deem everything else in the list, including underwear! That makes no sense to us and we doubt anyone is in favor of a wholesale ban on underwear!


This next Scripture is uniquely different from the others we’ve seen, so far:


            I will punish her for the days of the Baals

When she used to offer sacrifices to them

And adorn herself with her earrings (5141) and jewelry,

And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the LORD.

Hosea 2:13    


This was definitely a BAD use of earrings and jewelry.


But, THE defining Scripture for us is this one:

12 "I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears (5141) and a beautiful crown on your head.

13 "Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.

14 "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares YHWH GOD. Ezek 16:12-14


If the reader will read from the beginning of the chapter, you will see that this is YHWH speaking to Jerusalem and adorning her as His bride! If YHWH adorns His bride with earrings and a nose ring, we cannot call them pagan and thus inaccessible to believers.


Also, we looked up the Scriptures on “do not cut yourself” that was quoted to us to defend that believers are not to wearing earrings. This is what we found:


You are the sons of YHWH your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. Deuteronomy 14:1


OT:1413 דּדּגּ gadad (gaw-dad'); a primitive root; to crowd; also to gash (as if by pressing into)


(Also 1413 is found in I Kings 18:28 and Jeremiah 41:5. These are the ONLY listings of this word that we could find in the Old Testament.)


This Scripture was also used to defend no pierced earrings for believers:


8 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am YHWH. Lev 19:28


OT:8296seret (seh'-ret); and sareteth (saw-reh'-teth); from OT:8295; an incision:  KJV - cutting.


OT:8295 sarat (saw-rat'); a primitive root; to gash:

KJV - cut in pieces, make [cuttings] pieces.


Again, this talks about making gashes in one’s flesh, not piercing.


As for piercing being off limits to us, something pagan we are never to do, here’s what we found:


5 "But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,'

6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. Exodus 21:5-6


16 It shall come about if he says to you, 'I will not go out from you,' because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you;

17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant. Deuteronomy 15:16-17


            OT:4836 martsea` (mar-tsay'-ah); from OT:7527; an awl


            OT:7527 ﬠצּרּ ratsa` (raw-tsah'); a primitive root; to pierce


So, Scripture does have piercing coming from YHWH. Therefore, we cannot say that piercing our bodies is from paganism, only.


This issue begs an important question for believers to consider: do we establish our beliefs as a reaction to the world’s ways? We believe not. The Word of God is how we establish our beliefs. Therefore, from the Word of God we cannot support the viewpoint of no earrings for believers, pierced or otherwise.


Were we given the statement we heard another had received (one who wears earrings is hypocritical in their stance against body piercings) our response would be that earrings and a nose ring are the ONLY piercings mentioned by YHWH as being okay. Any others we have to assume come from paganism since YHWH doesn’t include them in His word.


We believe that the issue is perhaps a personal one. For those who work with those with body piercings (eyebrows, belly rings, check piercings, tongue piercing, etc.) perhaps this is a leading of YHWH to you, specifically due to the  type of ministry and people to whom you are speaking. However, after looking at all the Scriptures, we can’t make a case for earrings being pagan or something a believer should not wear. We do believe that there are passages addressing how they are used: for good or for evil purposes, but we cannot find an inherent evil in earrings or even nose rings.


We believe that it is possible that certain people maybe instructed to avoid pierced ears and earring by YHWH. After going to the Word to see if YHWH called them pagan, evil or unclean in and of themselves, we couldn’t find that earrings hold that label from YHWH. Therefore, we hope the reader will love and respect those who wear earrings, and that the wearer of earrings will love and respect those who don’t wear earrings, allowing each to walk in obedience to the instruction they feel that YHWH has given them.