hair in the Bible
“So particular were they on this point that to have neglected it was a subject of reproach and ridicule; and whenever they intended to convey the idea of a man of low condition, or a slovenly person, the artists represented him with a beard.”
Wigs in Egypt
Wigs were worn by priests and laymen to cover the shaven skull, and false beards were common. The great masses of hair seen in the portraits and statues of kings and priests are thus altogether artificial.
A precisely opposite practice, as regards men, prevailed among the Assyrians. In Assyrian sculptures, the hair always appears long, and combed closely down upon the head. The beard, also, was allowed to grow to its full length.
Among the Greeks the custom in this respect varied at different times, as it did also among the Romans. In the time of the apostle, among the Greeks the men wore short hair, while that of the women was long (1 Corinthians 11:14-15). Paul reproves the Corinthians for falling in with a style of manners which so far confounded the distinction of the sexes and was hurtful to good morals. (See, however, 1 Timothy 2:9, and 1 Peter 3:3, as regards women.)
They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh. —Leviticus 21:5 NKJV
These were practices of the pagans or superstitious marks of grief
You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.
‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord. —Lev. 19:27-28 NASB
So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. —1 Kings 18:28 NASB
High priests were required to keep their heads covered.
He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head [in mourning] nor tear his clothes… —Leviticus 21:10 NKJV excerpt
Length of scalp hair
Among the Hebrews the natural distinction between the sexes was preserved by the women wearing long hair (Luke 7:38; John 11:2; 1 Corinthians 11:6), while the men preserved theirs as a rule at a moderate length by frequent clipping.
Long hair for man is especially noticed in the description of Absalom’s person (2 Samuel 14:26); but the wearing of long hair was unusual, and was normally only practiced as an act of religious observance by Nazarites (Numbers 6:5; Judges 13:5) and others in token of special mercies (Acts 18:18).
Sign of mourning or affliction
In times of affliction, the hair was cut off (Isaiah 3:17; 3:24; 15:2; 22:12; Jeremiah 7:29; Amos 8:10). Tearing the hair and letting it go dishevelled were also tokens of grief (Ezra 9:3).
“Cutting off the hair” is a symbol of the entire destruction of a people.
In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard. —Isaiah 7:20 NASB
Annointing the hair
- Absalom—caught by his long hair
- head bands
- head dress
- lock (of hair)