possessed by the “daughters of Zion.” (Isa. 3:20) While these ornaments are not described in the Scriptures, the Hebrew word used to designate them (lehha·shimʹ) is from a root meaning “to whisper, to pronounce an incantation.” Whether they were worn as earrings or on a necklace is not known.—See CHARM.
While faithful Hebrews did not use amulets, surrounding nations did, and amulets of various kinds have been discovered in Palestine. Most of these are of Egyptian type, some being statuettes of Egyptian deities such as Osiris and Isis, emblems such as the Eye of Horus, the ankh (Egyptian symbol of life) or animals such as cats. However, small models of human arms and legs have also been discovered, and these may have been used with the thought of obtaining cures. Some of such amulets were found at Megiddo.
Egyptian amulets were often made in the form of creatures associated with various false deities; they consisted of miniature bulls, crocodiles, dogs, falcons, jackals, hippopotamuses, and so forth. For instance, the goddess Bast was represented by the cat, the god Anubis by the jackal, and the emblem of Horus was the falcon’s head. When the scarab beetle became sacred in Egypt, Egyptian jewelers fashioned many of them out of semiprecious stones and other materials. Sometimes the cartouche of a pharaoh (a figure containing the characters of his name) appeared on the fiat side of such an ornament. Fashioned scarabs were frequently mounted in seal rings, some of these being swivel rings. Of the thirteen bracelets found on the mummy of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, eight are amulets, with the Eye of Horus on five and the scarab (denoting protection by Isis and Ra) on three of them. Scarab amulets inscribed with the name of a pharaoh or a god were thought to bring good luck or protection and were very common. The Egyptians wore certain amulets for protection against the “evil eye,” as did the Greeks and Romans. The most common amulet the Romans used for this purpose apparently was the phallus, hung around children’s necks to protect them.
In later periods of Jewish history, the mezuzah came to be viewed as a protective amulet. Superstitious Jews at times also hung amulets around the necks of sick persons, hoping for cures. Some of these consisted of pieces of parchment on which words or names (often the Tetragrammaton) thought to have magical power were written. Very common was the hexagonal cabalistic figure (a six-pointed star) called “the shield of David” and “the seal of Solomon.”
Jesus Christ said that the scribes and Pharisees “broaden the scripture-containing cases that they wear as safeguards.” (Matt. 23:1, 2, 5) Christ thus referred to phylacteries worn on the forehead or the arm, not only for showy display to gain esteem among the people, but evidently as amulets that would ‘safeguard’ the wearer against evil influences and demons.—See SCRIPTURE-CONTAINING CASE.
The effectiveness of many amulets of ancient times was thought to depend upon their construction under particular astronomical conditions, and chief among their uses was that of supposedly averting bad luck. However, the Scriptures condemn astrology (see ASTROLOGERS) and do not approve of trusting in luck. (Isa. 65:11) While the Bible does not specifically say that the “earrings” Jacob disposed of along with the “foreign gods” under the big tree close by Shechem were amulets taken from the Shechemites, as some have suggested, that is possible. At any rate, they were put away and the incident certainly indicates they were undesirable. (Gen. 35:4) Nor do the injunctions of Proverbs (3:3; 6:21; 7:3) or the words of Exodus 13:9, 16 recommend the use of phylacteries or amulets containing inscriptions, as is obvious from the very wording of these texts. The Scriptures condemn the placing of trust in amulets and charms, the casting of spells and all occult practices.—Deut. 18:9-13; Isa. 3:1-3; 47:8-15.
As expressed by the writer of Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is an appointed time, . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to wail and a time to skip about.” (Eccl. 3:1, 4) The word “laugh” here translates the Hebrew word sa·hhaqʹ. Though the basic meaning is “laugh” or “laughter,” sa·hhaqʹ and the related words sehhoqʹ and tsa·hhaqʹ are also translated by expressions such as “celebrate,” “play,” “make sport,” ‘offer amusement,’ and “have a good time.” (2 Sam. 6:21; Job 41:5; Judg 16:25; Ex. 32:6; Gen. 26:8) A form of the verb sa·hhaqʹ is used at Proverbs 8:30, 31 with regard to the “master worker [wisdom]” as “being glad [mesa·hheʹqeth]” before Jehovah following the earth’s creation, as well as to describe the “play” of the animal creation in the sea and in the fields.—Ps. 104:26; Job 40:20.
MANNERS AND OCCASIONS OF EXPRESSING JOY AND PLEASURE
The amusements and diversion of the Israelites are not prominently portrayed in the Bible record. Nevertheless, it shows them to be viewed as both proper and desirable when in harmony with the religious principles of the nation. The principal forms of recreation were the playing of musical instruments, singing, dancing, conversation, as well as some games. The propounding of riddles and difficult questions was much esteemed.—Judg. 14:12.
Singing, dancing and the use of tambourines broke forth in praise of Jehovah right after Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea. (Ex. 15:20, 21) Later, when Aaron proclaimed a “festival to Jehovah” after having made the golden calf, the people ate and drank and then “got up to have a good time [tsa·hheqʹ].” Their dancing and singing in this case, however, were coupled with false worship, causing disgrace.—Ex 32:5, 6, 18, 19, 25.
The three annual festivals provided occasion for enjoyment along with the observance of the requirements of worship set forth in the Law. “Circle dances” are mentioned with regard to the yearly festival held in Shiloh. (Judg. 21:21) Other occasions were the victory celebrations (Judg. 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6, 7), and the coronation of a king. (1 Ki 1:40) While dancing was engaged in more particularly by women, men also danced on occasions, as did David when bringing the Ark up to Jerusalem. (2 Sam. 6:5, 14, 21; 1 Chron. 13:8; 15:29) The vintage time and also sheepshearing time were occasions of joy and feasting. (Jer. 25:30; 2 Sam. 13:23-28) Marriages, too, were times for enjoyment, and Jesus contributed toward such at a marriage held in Cana. (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; John 2:1-10) At Luke 15:25 a music concert and dancing are mentioned as part of the festivities celebrating the return of the prodigal son.
In Egypt slaves were taught music and dancing to entertain the family and their guests. The Greeks also employed professional women dancers and musicians to entertain guests. There was dancing for entertainment on Herod’s birthday when he was asked for the head of John the Baptist. (Matt. 14:6-8) Dancing was popular among the Greeks as an amusement even though Greek dancing was originally associated with religious worship.
PROPER BALANCE IN AMUSEMENT
Warnings against improper forms of amusement and the need for keeping entertainment in its place are set forth in certain texts. Proverbs describes the stupid one to whom the carrying on of loose conduct is like “sport [sehhohqʹ],” and the man who tricks his fellow and says, “Was I not having fun [mesa·hheqʹ]?” (Prov. 10:23; 26:19) Showing amusement’s relative worth to be small, Proverbs 14:13 says: “Even in laughter [sehhoqʹ] the heart may be in pain; and grief is what rejoicing ends up in.” (Compare Ecclesiastes 2:2; 7:2, 3, 6.) The merry Philistines called out blind Samson to offer them amusement