323. Seals

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Listen from:
The seal is, in the East, of more importance than the signature, and indeed is often used in place of a signature. No document is of any validity without it. The ordinary mode of using it is to cover it with ink, and press it on the paper. The seal is often connected with a ring, and worn on the finger. See note on Genesis 41:4242And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; (Genesis 41:42) (#79).
Ancient seals have been found of various shapes—cylindrical, square, pyramidal, oval, and round. A very common style of seal among the ancient Egyptians was one made of stone, rounded on one side and flat on the other. The inscription for the seal was on the flat surface, and the convex surface was skillfully wrought into the form of a scarabaeus or beetle.
Since the beetle was worshiped by the Egyptians, whose example was followed by the Phenicians, after whose deities Ahab had gone, some have thought that Ahab’s seal was of this description.
Seals that were not set in rings were perforated with a hole through which a string passed, by means of which the seal was suspended from the neck. It is supposed that Judah’s was worn in this way (Gen. 38:1818And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. (Genesis 38:18)).
Many ancient seals were in shape of a cylinder, and some of these were set in a frame which enabled the seal to revolve as the impression was made. Some beautiful specimens of this kind of seal have been found among the ruins in Chaldea and Assyria. The figures engraved on seals were various. Modern Oriental seals have usually the name of the owner on them, and often a sentence from the Koran. The ancient seals had devices of symbolical meaning, and letters either hieroglyphic or cuneiform.