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Hair Styles Of The Bible

Hair styles of men and women have varied tremendously over the ages, from very long, to very short. This was also true during Bible History. Both extremes can be found in the Scriptures, particularly among men, while women most commonly had long hair which was styled by tying or plaiting, rather than by how it was cut, and adorned with bands or ornaments. Although no photographs exist from those ancient times, engravings and coins, along with sometimes well-preserved grave contents, provide much information.

Esther Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman

Ancient Egyptian (see The Ancient Egyptians) men commonly shaved their faces and their heads, not usually allowing it to grow except in times of mourning, after which it was again shaved. Joseph (see Coat Of Many Colors) was clean shaven prior to being allowed in before Pharaoh (Genesis 41:14). The women of Egypt wore their hair long and plaited.

Assyrian (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) and Babylonian (see Ancient Empires - Babylon) men on the other hand usually allowed their hair and beards to grow long. The women usually had long hair. The same was true for the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia).

With the Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece) and the Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome), men's hair length varied over time, long and short - while once again, women generally had long hair.

Israelites and Christians

Hair length varied among the Israelites also, although, still again, women always tended to have long hair, or at least longer than the men. It appears that men had longer hair during the time of the Old Testament than during the New Testament. As with clothing, the general Biblical principle regarding hair was that there was to be a clear difference between men and women, regardless of whatever length was considered socially acceptable at any given time.

Samson (Judges 16:17) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25-26) are the most famous men with long hair in the Old Testament. Absalom's was apparently just out of personal vanity, while Samson was a Nazirite (see Nazirites). Coincidentally or not, both men's deaths directly involved their long hair - Samson was captured by the Philistines after his hair was cut, and Absalom's head got caught in a tree during a battle.

During the time of Jesus Christ and the early church era, the men usually had short hair, while the women had long hair. We know from the apostle Paul that Jesus Christ had short hair (see What Did Jesus Look Like?), while John The Baptist, who was a Nazirite from birth (Luke 1:15), probably had long hair, as was proper for Nazirites.

Some other Biblical references to hair:

"Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride?" (1 Corinthians 11:14-15 RSV)

"any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head - it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil." (1 Corinthians 11:5-6 RSV)

"The glory of young men is their strength, but the beauty of old men is their gray hair." (Proverbs 20:29 RSV)

"If a man's hair has fallen from his head, he is bald but he is clean." (Leviticus 13:40 RSV)

"So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Elisha spoke. He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of The Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys." (2 Kings 2:22-24 RSV)

"When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window." (2 Kings 9:30 RSV)

"Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." (1 Peter 3:3-4 RSV)

Fact Finder: What did Jesus Christ's hair look like when He appeared to The Apostle John at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation?
Revelation 1:14-18


This Week's Bible Quiz

In which book of the Bible is this recorded?

1. The Flood?

2. The death of Moses?

3. The Ten Plagues on Egypt?

4. The crossing of The Jordan River into the Promised Land?

5. King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a great statue?

6. The martyrdom of Stephen?

7. The conversion of Saul On The Road To Damascus?

8. Paul's First Missionary Journey?

9. Paul's Second Missionary Journey?

10. Paul's Third Missionary Journey?

For the answers to this December 5 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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