- er ('ozen; ous, otion, the latter word (literally, "earlet") in all the Gospels only used of the ear of the high priest's servant, which was cut off by Peter: Mt 26:51
; Mk 14:47
; Lk 22:51
(not 22:50); Jn 18:10,26
(1) The physical organ of hearing which was considered of peculiar importance as the chief instrument by which man receives information and commandments. For this reason the ear of the priest had to be specially sanctified, the tip of the right ear being touched with sacrificial blood at the consecration (Lev 8:23). Similarly the ear of the cleansed leper had to be rededicated to the service of God by blood and oil (Lev 14:14,17,25,28). The ear-lobe of a servant, who preferred to remain with the family of his master rather than become free in the seventh year, was to be publicly bored or pierced with an awl in token of perpetual servitude (Ex 21:6). It has been suggested that Ps 40:6 should be interpreted in this sense, but this is not probable (see below). The cutting off of the ears and noses of captives was an atrocious custom of war frequently alluded to in oriental literature, (Ezek 23:25). The phrase "to open the ear," which originally means the uncovering of the ear by partially removing the turban, so as to permit a clearer hearing, is used in the sense of revealing a secret or of giving important (private) information (1 Sam 9:15; 20:2,12,13; 2 Sam 7:27; 1 Ch 17:25; also Ps 40:6), and the New Testament promises similarly that "things which eye saw not, and ear heard not" are to be revealed by the reconciled God to the heart that in gladsome surrender has come to Him to be taught by His spirit (1 Cor 2:9).
(2) The inner ear, the organ of spiritual perception. If the ear listens, the heart willingly submits, but often the spiritual ear is "hardened" (Isa 6:10; Zec 7:11; Mt 13:15; Acts 28:27), or "heavy" (Isa 6:10; also Dt 29:4), either by self-seeking obstinacy or by the judgment of an insulted God. Such unwilling hearers are compared to the "deaf adder .... which hearkeneth not to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely" (Ps 58:4,5; compare also Prov 21:13; 28:9; Acts 7:57). The expression "He that hath ears to hear let him hear" is frequent in the Synoptic Gospels, occurring 7 or 8 times: Mt 11:15; 13:9,43; Mk 4:9,23 (7:16 the Revised Version (British and American) omits); Lk 8:8; 14:35, and while not found in the Fourth Gospel, it occurs seven times in Rev 2 and 3. "Itching ears," on the other hand, are those that have become tired of the sound of oft-repeated truth and that long for new though deceitful teaching (2 Tim 4:3). Ears may "tingle" at startling news, especially of disaster (1 Sam 3:11; 2 Ki 21:12; Jer 19:3).
(3) God's ears are often mentioned in the anthropopathic style of Scripture, signifying the ability of God to receive the petitions of His people, for "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear?" (Ps 94:9; also Ps 10:17; 34:15; 130:2; Isa 59:1; 1 Pet 3:12). But God also hears the murmurings of the wicked against Him (Nu 11:1; 2 Ki 19:28; The Wisdom of Solomon 1:10; Jas 5:4); still it lies in His power to refuse to hear (Ezek 8:18; Lam 3:8; compare also Lam 3:56).
H. L. E. Luering