Of all facial piercings, I find the nose ring most fascinating - not only aesthetically but also historically. A nose-jewel is either made of gold or silver, worn by many Eastern women. It can measure from about an inch to about three inches (in extreme cases) in diameter, and was passed through the right nostril. Usually there were pendants dangling from the metal rings, of diamond, pearl, beads or coral. Today, such ornament is still worn in some parts of the East and has gradually gained momentum in the west. But how many of us know the true significance of a nose ring?
There is a beautiful love story that involves nose piercing and this is what I will share with you.
Four thousand years ago, the great Patriarch Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son. Yes siree, way back then, it was the parents who decide about the matrimonial fate of their children. “But why a servant?” you might ask. Understandable question indeed, and a very logical one at that. No one in his right mind in this present society would submit to a father’s choice for a wife, much less his servant.
But this obedient son submitted not only to his father’s decision and not just that, humbly and with some excitement waited for that servant to return and bring him home a wife.
To many modern men, Isaac’s could sound like a stupid attitude, but in reality, he was one of the wisest men who ever lived. You see, Abraham is the father of faith and Isaac trusted his father’s wisdom. Abraham’s sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac was an act borne of faith. The servant in turn acted in faith, which he obviously learned from his master. When he reached the place designated by his master, he prayed for God to show him the right woman for his master’s son. He prayed thus: “May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Sure enough, Rebekah came and did exactly what the servant asked of Abraham’s God.
Abraham’s servant asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’
After hearing that, Eliezer put the finest gold jewel in Rebekah’s nose and gold bracelets on her arms, then bowed down and worshiped the Lord.
Here we can see the value that our ancestors have placed on a nose ring. In the ancient times, a nose ring was not simply an ornament, jewelry or accessory, but a symbol of marriage. Beyond it being a symbol of marriage, a ring is a sign of authority and power. Kings sign documents with their signet rings. A person who has the authority to use the King’s signet ring is said to have the full authority and power of the King. The ring is also a symbol of eternity, no beginning and no end. Placed on the finger, a wedding ring signifies that the bride and groom belong to each other for eternity. But a nose ring has a much deeper significance than meeting the eye. Have you ever wondered why the ring used to be placed in the bride’s nose instead of on her finger? You are in for a surprise.
The nose is the organ for breathing. Every conventional vow contains the line “till death do us part”. The nose ring therefore is a sign that the woman belongs to the man for as long as there is breath in her. Romantic, isn’t it? But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In Hebrew, the word for breath and spirit are one – ruwach. Giving a woman a nose ring as a symbol of union not only means that the bride belongs to the groom for life, rather, it means that she is his very life, that they have been one in spirit since eternity past, that they are and will be one not only up to her last breathe but for as long as their spiritual oneness exists, and that means forever.
And this brings us to the wisdom of Rebekah’s blind decision to marry someone she never met even once in her whole life. Because she believed that Eliezer was sent by God, she and her family consented. Her action made her an heiress to the same promise that God has given Abraham. As a result, she became the ancestor of the Christ - God Himself - in whom she placed her trust.
The nose ring. Love it or hate it. Throughout the years, it has lost its meaning, but now it has reclaimed its rightful throne. For in reality, it stands for the eternal power and authority that Christ has given to His Bride, the whole of humanity. No wonder its first appearance in the Bible was as a marriage token to the bride of the son of the promise, Isaac.
Hmmm. Makes me toy with the idea of having my nose pierced for my wedding day. Isn't it romantic?