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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Hair growing on a man's face often excluding the mustache. Ancient Hebrews are often depicted in ancient Near Eastern art with full rounded beards. This is in contrast to Romans and Egyptians who preferred clean shaven faces and to other desert nomads and others living in Palestine who often clipped or cut their beards (on the latter see Jeremiah 9:26 ; Jeremiah 25:23 ; Jeremiah 49:32 ). Israelites were forbidden to mar the edges of their beards by cutting them (Leviticus 19:27 ), and priests were forbidden to cut the corners of their beards (Leviticus 21:5 ). To have one's beard shaved was an insult (2 Samuel 10:4-5 ; Isaiah 50:6 ) or used as a sign by the prophets of coming destruction (Isaiah 7:20 ; Isaiah 15:2 ; Jeremiah 41:5 ; Jeremiah 48:37 ; Ezekiel 5:1 ). The regular Hebrew word for “beard” (zaqan ) also means “old” and was applied to men (Judges 19:16 ), slaves (Genesis 24:2 ), women (Zechariah 8:4 ), and elders (Exodus 19:7 ). The word translated as “beard” in 2 Samuel 19:24 (sapam) probably means “mustache.” The same word is also translated “lip” ( Leviticus 13:45 ; Ezekiel 24:17 ,Ezekiel 24:17,24:22 ; Micah 3:7 , KJV, NRSV), “[lower part of the] face” (NIV, TEV), “mouth” (Micah 3:7 , NAS, REB), “mustache” (Leviticus 13:45 ; Ezekiel 24:17 ,Ezekiel 24:17,24:22 , NAS), “upper lip” (Leviticus 13:45 , REB), and “beard” (Ezekiel 24:17 ,Ezekiel 24:17,24:22 , REB).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Beard'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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