Signet Rings In The Bible

In the Bible, God speaks to and tells us about many different things, including telling us about signet rings. These rings were used to stamp objects with a seal, or to make an imprint of something placed inside the ring. Signet rings are not uncommon today either, and in fact have become more popular again. Today people use them to seal important documents such as wills, using their own personal stamp. Another common use for signet rings is to impress a picture or image of your choosing on the outside of the ring itself.

Signet rings were used for many things in Biblical times. People used them as signets on their doors to mark ownership, as seals to stamp documents and other important items with, or to seal wax which was used at the time in letters.

In the Bible, servant and slave rings / rings for servants and slaves are mentioned several times. In the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, King Solomon commands that each of his over 40,000 servants be given a ring of iron (signet ring) with the royal seal on it. The purpose of the royal seal was to prove that the servant (slave) was legally owned by King Solomon.

In the Bible rings are often used as a symbol of authority and power, not only among individuals but also among nations. Sometimes these rings are used to seal a covenant by stamping a wax impression into clay or clay tablets.

Signet Rings In The Bible

Signet– a seal used to attest documents ( Daniel 6:8-10 Daniel 6:12 ). In 6:17 , this word properly denotes a ring. The impression of a signet ring on fine clay has recently been discovered among the ruins at Nineveh. It bears the name and title of an Egyptian king. Two actual signet rings of ancient Egyptian monarchs (Cheops and Horus) have also been discovered.

When digging a shaft close to the south wall of the temple area, the engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund, at a depth of 12 feet below the surface, came upon a pavement of polished stones, formerly one of the streets of the city. Under this pavement they found a stratum of 16 feet of concrete, and among this concrete, 10 feet down, they found a signet stone bearing the inscription, in Old Hebrew characters, “Haggai, son of Shebaniah.” It has been asked, Might not this be the actual seal of Haggai the prophet? We know that he was in Jerusalem after the Captivity; and it is somewhat singular that he alone of all the minor prophets makes mention of a signet ( Haggai 2:23 )

Signet Rings In The Bible

In Haggai 2:23 we read, “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.’” What did God mean when He said Zerubbabel was His signet ring?

Ancient kings used signet rings to designate authority, honor, or ownership. A signet contained an emblem unique to the king. Official documents were sealed with a dollop of soft wax impressed with the king’s signet, usually kept on a ring on his finger. Such a seal certified the document as genuine, much like a notary public’s stamp today. In 1 Kings 21:8, the evil Queen Jezebel took King Ahab’s signet ring and “wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal.” The ring’s stamp gave her letters the king’s authority. In Daniel 6:17, a signet ring was used to seal a stone covering a lions’ den: “A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.” A royal signet ring is also featured in Genesis 41:41-43 and Esther 8:8.

It is important to understand who Zerubbabel is. He is the governor of the rebuilt Jerusalem and is himself of royal blood, being a descendant of David and the grandson of Judah’s King Jehoiachin. Years earlier, Jehoiachin had lost his throne when he was deported to Babylon; in fact, God pictured Jehoiachin as a signet ring being removed from God’s finger (Jeremiah 22:24). Now, God calls Zerubbabel the “signet ring,” but this time it won’t be removed.

In Haggai’s prophecy, God is giving Zerubbabel encouragement and hope. The governor is “chosen” for a unique and noble purpose. As God’s signet ring, Zerubbabel is given a place of honor and authority. God is reinstating the Davidic line and renewing His covenant with David. Judah still has a future as they look forward to the coming Son of David, the Messiah, who would one day “overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms” (Haggai 2:22).

Zerubbabel is also called “my servant.” This title was often a Messianic reference in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 3:18; 1 Kings 11:34; Isaiah 42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–11; 52:13—53:12; Ezekiel 34:23–24; 37:24–25). The triad of servant, son, and signet ring created a special combination of encouragement for Zerubbabel in his important and difficult task of reconstructing the Jewish temple. As God’s “signet ring,” Zerubbabel becomes a picture of the future Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will establish His people in the Promised Land, construct an even grander temple (Zechariah 6:12–13), and lead the righteous in never-ending worship.

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