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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Beard. The nations of western Asia paid great attention to their beard. In this respect they differed from the Egyptians, who shaved, except when mourning, Genesis 41:14; though they had the custom of wearing false beards, made of plaited hair, and graduated according to rank. For private persons these were small, about two inches long; for kings, much longer and square at the bottom; while gods had beards of which the lower part curled up. The Hebrews probably, allowed their beards to grow when in Egypt; and we find in their subsequent history that neglect of them was a proof of slovenliness, and allowable only in seasons of distress. 2 Samuel 19:24. They were carefully trimmed and perfumed. Psalms 133:2. They were not to be touched by others, except by intimate friends, with the right hand, in a way of affectionate reverence, or to be respectfully kissed, 2 Samuel 20:9; and any indignity offered to them by pulling, spitting, or the like, was highly resented. Hence there could have been no greater insult than that shown by Hanun to David's ambassadors. 2 Samuel 10:4. Shaving the beard, or cutting it off, was a sign of the deepest degradation, Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 41:5, hence the threatening in Isaiah 7:20 was full of significance. There are some notices of the beard in the Hebrew ritual. Thus, the recovered leper was to shave off his beard on the last day of his cleansing. Leviticus 14:9; but generally the corners of the beard were not to be marred. Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5. This prohibition is supposed to be directed against shaving the beard where it joins the hair. Some Arabian tribes, it seems, did this in devoting themselves to an idol-god. See Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Beard'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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