The part of the face that affords passage for air in respiration and serves as the organ of smell.
When God created Adam, he put in his body the life force (ruʹahh), as many texts indicate. Then he proceeded to “blow into his nostrils the breath [form of nesha·mahʹ] of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) The breath being drawn into the body through the nostrils is essential to life; it sustains the life force. At the Flood, “everything in which the breath of the force of life was active in its nostrils, namely, all that were on the dry ground, died.”—Gen. 7:22.
The Hebrew word for nose or nostril (ʼaph) is frequently used to refer to the entire face. Adam was sentenced to earn his livelihood from the ground ‘in the sweat of his face [literally, “nose” or “nostrils”].’ (Gen. 3:19) Lot bowed down with his face (“nose”) to the ground before the visiting angels.—Gen. 19:1.
SENSITIVITY IN SMELLING AND TASTING
The olfactory area is located in the upper part of the nasal cavity, where the olfactory nerves terminate in hairlike endings; also fine endings of the trigeminal nerve are found in this area. The sense of smell in humans is very acute, giving credit to the ability of man’s Creator. According to an article in the Scientific American, in its issue of February 1964: “The sense of smell obviously is a chemical sense, and its sensitivity is proverbial; to a chemist the ability of the nose to sort out and characterize substances is almost beyond belief. It deals with complex compounds that might take a chemist months to analyze in the laboratory; the nose identifies them instantly, even in an amount so small (as little as a ten-millionth of a gram) that the most sensitive modern laboratory instruments often cannot detect the substance, let alone analyze and label it.”
In the same article, an interesting theory was set forth, which has passed several tests with indications that the theory may be close to the actual facts. This theory holds that the odors of different substances are based on the geometrical shape of the molecules of that substance; that there are “primary” odors just as there are primary colors of light (red, green and blue). These primary odors are identified as numbering seven, namely, camphoraceous, musky, floral, pepperminty, ethereal (etherlike), pungent and putrid. The latter two are thought to be exceptions, giving their odor sensations, not because of shape, but because of the electrical charge they carry. The receptors in the nerve endings are thought to be of various shapes, the smell sensation being due to the molecules of the substance fitting into the receptors of the nerves that carry the sensation to the brain for interpretation as a certain odor. Complex odors have molecules that will fit into more than one receptor, depending upon whether or not the molecules lie flat, on the side or endwise. In this way they fit into a number of different receptors, bringing about combinations of the “primary” odors.
The nose also plays a large part in “taste.” There are four primary tastes: sweet, salt, sour and bitter. These the taste buds in the mouth recognize. But much of the flavor in food is enjoyed due to the sense of smell. For example, a person whose nostrils are stopped up finds difficulty in distinguishing between two kinds of food, as most things then taste more or less flat.
Being located so prominently, a well-formed nose contributes greatly to facial beauty. In The Song of Solomon (7:4) the Shulammite girl’s nose being likened to “the tower of Lebanon” may have reference to the symmetry of her nose as adding dignity and beauty to her face. God required that Israel’s priests, because they were his representatives before the people, be without blemish, one of the requirements being that no priest should have a slit or mutilated nose.—Lev. 21:18.
ILLUSTRATIVE AND FIGURATIVE USES
The word for nose or nostrils (ʼaph) is often used figuratively for anger (because of the violent breathing or snorting of an enraged person). (See ANGER.) It is also employed with reference to Jehovah’s action because of his anger (Ps. 18:8, 15), or when he exerts his powerful active force.—Ex. 14:21; 15:8.
The disgusting idolatry into which Israel fell was a cause for the burning anger of Jehovah against them, which he expressed through the prophet Isaiah, saying: “These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire burning all day long.”—Isa. 65:5.
Proverbs 30:32, 33 states: “If you have acted senselessly by lifting yourself up, and if you have fixed your thought upon it, put the hand to the mouth. For the churning of milk is what brings forth butter, and the squeezing of the nose is what brings forth blood, and the squeezing out of anger is what brings forth quarreling.” This strongly emphasizes the trouble that can be caused by one who speaks wrongly or who harbors up anger or lets it out unrestrained. Here, in a play on words, “anger” is the dual form of the word for “nose.”