Hair. The Hebrews were fully alive to the importance of the hair as an element of personal beauty. Long hair was admired in the case of young men. 2 Sam. 14:26. In times of affliction the hair was altogether cut off. Isa. 3:17, 24; 15:2; Jer. 7:29. Tearing the hair, Ezra 9:3, and letting it go dishevelled were similar tokens of grief. The usual and favorite color of the hair was black, Song. 5:11, as is indicated in the comparisons in Song. 1:5; 4:1; a similar hue is probably intended by the purple of Song. 7:5. Pure white hair was deemed characteristic of the divine Majesty. Dan. 7:9; Rev. 1:14. The chief beauty of the hair consisted in curls, whether of a natural or an artificial character. With regard to the mode of dressing the hair, we have no very precise information; the terms used are of a general character, as of Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:30, and of Judith, ch. 10:3, and in the New Testament, 1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:3. The arrangement of Samson’s hair into seven locks, or more properly braids, Judges 16:13, 19, involves the practice of plaiting, which was also familiar to the Egyptians and Greeks. The locks were probably kept in their place by a fillet, as in Egypt. The Hebrews, like other nations of antiquity, anointed the hair profusely with ointments, which were generally compounded of various aromatic ingredients, Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 92:10; Eccles. 9:8, more especially on occasions of festivity or hospitality. Luke 7:46. It appears to have been the custom of the Jews in our Saviour’s time to swear by the hair, Matt. 5:36, much as the Egyptian women still swear by the side-lock, and the men by their beards.
Beards. Egyptian, from Wilkinson (top row). Of other nations, from Rosellini and Layard.