12-26, where the patriarch leaves his signet (not necessarily a signet ring) his
bracelets and his staff, as pledges for a promised gift, the earliest
Hebrew notice of a ring is in Genesis xlii, 42, where we read that in
return for the interpretation of his dream and for the valuable
counsel as to laying up a stock of grain in Egypt to forestall a coming
famine, the Pharaoh of the time " took off his ring from his hand, and
put it upon Joseph's hand." This might refer to a period about 1600 b.c., or
possibly somewhat earlier, always providing the tradition be accepted
as in a certain sense exact. Centuries later, in the Desert, when the
Lord commanded offerings for the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant,
and for the ephod and breastplate, among the gifts proffered are
enumerated " bracelets, earrings, and rings " (Exodus, xxxv, 22). The
Book of Daniel, written not earlier than the sixth century before
Christ, and more probably, in its present form, a work of the second
century b.c., relating
the imprisonment of Daniel in the lions' den, states that when at the
reluctant command of King Darius he was shut up therein, " a stone was
brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it
with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords " (Dan. vi, 17).
Still, these might have been of the well-known Babylonian type of "
rolling seals " and not rings.