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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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Moses ordered that the lower part of the blue robe, which the high priest wore in religious ceremonies, should be adorned with pomegranates and bells, intermixed alternately, at equal distances. The pomegranates were of wool, and in colour, blue purple, and crimson; the bells were of gold. Moses adds, "And it shall be upon Aaron to minister; and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out; that he die not." Some of the Hebrews believe that these little bells are round; others, that they were such as were commonly in use. The ancient kings of Persia are said to have had the hem of their robes adorned like that of the Jewish high priest, with pomegranates and golden bells. The Arabian ladies, who are about the king's person, have little gold bells fastened to their legs, their neck, and elbows, which, when they dance, make a very agreeable harmony. The Arabian women of rank, generally, wear on their legs large hollow gold rings, containing small flints, that sound like little bells when they walk; or they are large circles, with little rings hung all round, which produce the same effect. These, when they walk, give notice that the mistress of the house is passing, that so the servants of the family may behave themselves respectfully, and strangers may retire, to avoid seeing the person who advances. It was, in all probability, with some such design of giving notice that the high priest was passing, that he also wore little bells at the hem of his robe. Their sound intimated also when he was about to enter the sanctuary, and served to keep up the attention of the people. A reverential respect for the Divine Inhabitant was also indicated. The palace of kings was not to be entered without due notice, by striking some sonorous body, much less the sanctuary of God; and the high priest did, by the sound of his bells at the bottom of his robe, ask leave to enter. "And his sound shall be heard when he goeth into the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out; that he die not."

Bells were a part of the martial furniture of horses employed in war. the Jewish warrior adorned his charger with these ornaments; and the prophet foretels that these in future times should be consecrated to the service of God: "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord." Chardin observes that something like this is seen in several places of the east; in Persia, and in Turkey, the reins of their bridles are of silk, of the thickness of a finger, on which are wrought the name of God, or other inscriptions. A horse which had not been trained was by the Greeks called, "one that had never heard the noise of bells."

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Bells'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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