From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

HAIR . The usual word in OT is sç‘âr , in NT thrix . Black hair was greatly admired by the Hebrews (  Song of Solomon 4:1;   Song of Solomon 5:11;   Song of Solomon 7:5 ). Women have always worn the hair long, baldness or short hair being to them a disgrace (  Isaiah 3:24 , Eze 16:7 ,   1 Corinthians 11:15 ,   Revelation 9:8 ). Absalom’s hair was cut once a year (  2 Samuel 14:26; cf. rules for priests,   Ezekiel 44:20 ), but men seem to have worn the hair longer than is seemly among us (  Song of Solomon 5:2;   Song of Solomon 5:11 ). In NT times it was a shame for a man to have long hair (  1 Corinthians 11:6 ff.). This probably never applied to the Arabs, who still wear the hair in long plaits. The locks of the Nazirite were, of course, an exception (  Judges 16:13 etc.). The Israelites were forbidden to cut the corners of their hair (  Leviticus 19:27;   Leviticus 21:5 ). In neighbouring nations the locks on the temples, in front of the ears, were allowed to grow in youth, and their removal was part of certain idolatrous rites connected with puberty and initiation to manhood. These peoples are referred to as those that ‘have the corners polled’ (  Jeremiah 9:26 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). The practice was probably followed by Israel in early times, and the prohibition was required to distinguish them from idolaters. One curious result of the precept is seen among the orthodox Jews of to-day, who religiously preserve the love-locks which, in the far past, their ancestors religiously cut.

The Assyrians wore the hair long (Herod. i. 195). In Egypt the women wore long hair. The men shaved both head and beard Genesis 41:14 ), but they wore imposing wigs and false heards, the shape of the latter indicating the rank and dignity of the wearer (Herod. ii. 36, iii. 12; Wilk. Anc. Egyp . ii. 324, etc.). Josephus says that young gallants among the horsemen of Solomon sprinkled gold dust on their long hair, ‘so that their heads sparkled with the reflexion of the sunbeams from the gold’ ( Ant . VIII. vii. 3). Jezebel dressed her hair (  2 Kings 9:30 ). Judith arranged her hair and put on a head-dress ( Jdt 10:3 ). St. Paul deprecates too much attention to ‘braided hair’ (  1 Timothy 2:9 , cf.   1 Peter 3:3 ). Artificial curls are mentioned in   Isaiah 3:24 . The fillet of twisted silk or other material by which the hair was held in position stands for the hair itself in   Jeremiah 7:29 . Combs are not mentioned in Scripture; but they were used in Egypt (Wilk. op. cit. ii. 349), and were doubtless well known in Palestine. The barber with his razor appears in   Ezekiel 5:1 (cf. Chagiga 4 b, Shab , § 6 ). Herod the Great dyed his hair black, to make himself look younger (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XVI. viii. 1). We hear of false hair only once, and then it is used as a disguise ( ib., Vit . 11). Light ornaments of metal were worn on the hair (  Isaiah 3:18 ): In modern times coins of silver and gold are commonly worn; often a tiny bell is hung at the end of the tress. It is a grievous insult to cut or pluck the hair of head or cheek (  2 Samuel 10:4 ff.,   Isaiah 7:20;   Isaiah 50:6 ,   Jeremiah 48:37 ). Letting loose a woman’s hair is a mark of abasement (  Numbers 5:18 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ); or it may indicate self-humiliation (  Luke 7:38 ). As a token of grief it was customary to cut the hair of both head and beard (  Isaiah 15:2 ,   Jeremiah 16:6;   Jeremiah 41:5 ,   Amos 8:10 ), to leave the beard untrimmed (  2 Samuel 19:24 ), and even to pluck out the hair (  Ezra 9:3 ). Tearing the hair is still a common Oriental expression of sorrow. Arab women cut off their hair in mourning.

The hair of the lifelong Nazirite might never be cut (  Judges 13:5 ,   1 Samuel 1:11 ). The Nazirite for a specified time cut his hair only when the vow was performed. If, after the period of separation had begun, he contracted defilement, his head was shaved and the period began anew (  Numbers 6:5 ff.). An Arab who is under vow must neither cut, comb, nor cleanse his hair, until the vow is fulfilled and his offering made. Then cutting the hair marks his return from the consecrated to the common condition (Wellhausen, Skizzen , iii. 167). Offerings of hair were common among ancient peoples (W. R. Smith, RS [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 2 324ff.; Wellhausen, op. cit. 118 f.). It was believed that some part of a man’s life resided in the hair, and that possess on of hair from his head maintained a certain connexion with him, even after his death. Before freeing a prisoner, the Arabs cut a portion of his hair, and retained it, as evidence that he had been in their power (Wellh. op. cit. 118). Chalid b. al-Walid wore, in his military head-gear, hair from the head of Mohammed ( ib. 146).

The colour of the hair was observed in the detection of leprosy ( Leviticus 13:30 ff. etc.). Thorough disinfection involved removal of the hair (14:8, 9). The shaving of the head of the slave-girl to be married by her captor marked the change in her condition and prospects (  Deuteronomy 21:12; W. R. Smith, Kinship 2 , 209). Swearing by the hair (  Matthew 5:36 ) is now generally confined to the heard. The hoary head is held in honour (  Proverbs 16:31 , Wis 2:10 etc.), and white hair is associated with the appearance of Divine majesty (  Daniel 7:9 ,   Revelation 1:14 ).

W. Ewing.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Θρίξ (Strong'S #2359 — Noun Feminine — thrix — threeks )

denotes the "hair," whether of beast, as of the camel's "hair" which formed the raiment of John the Baptist,  Matthew 3:4;  Mark 1:6; or of man. Regarding the latter (a) it is used to signify the minutest detail, as that which illustrates the exceeding care and protection bestowed by God upon His children,  Matthew 10:30;  Luke 12:7;  21:18;  Acts 27:34; (b) as the Jews swore by the "hair," the Lord used the natural inability to make one "hair" white or black, as one of the reasons for abstinence from oaths,  Matthew 5:36; (c) while long "hair" is a glory to a woman (see B), and to wear it loose or dishevelled is a dishonor, yet the woman who wiped Christ's feet with her "hair" (in place of the towel which Simon the Pharisee omitted to provide), despised the shame in her penitent devotion to the Lord (slaves were accustomed to wipe their masters' feet),  Luke 7:38,44 (RV, "hair"); see also   John 11:2;  12:3; (d) the dazzling whiteness of the head and "hair" of the Son of Man in the vision of  Revelation 1:14 is suggestive of the holiness and wisdom of "the Ancient of Days;" (e) the long "hair" of the spirit-beings described as locusts in   Revelation 9:8 is perhaps indicative of their subjection of their satanic master (cp.   1—Corinthians 11:10 , RV); (f) Christian women are exhorted to refrain from adorning their "hair" for outward show,  1—Peter 3:3 .

 Acts 18:3

A — 2: Κόμη (Strong'S #2864 — Noun Feminine — kome — kom'-ay )

is used only of "human hair," but not in the NT of the ornamental. The word is found in  1—Corinthians 11:15 , where the context shows that the "covering" provided in the long "hair" of the woman is as a veil, a sign of subjection to authority, as indicated in the headships spoken of in  1—Corinthians 11:1-10 .

B — 1: Κομάω (Strong'S #2863 — Verb — komao — kom-ah'-o )

signifies "to let the hair grow long, to wear long hair," a glory to a woman, a dishonor to a man (as taught by nature),  1—Corinthians 11:14,15 .

C — 1: Τρίχινος (Strong'S #5155 — Adjective — trichinos — trikh'-ee-nos )

akin to A, No. 1, signifies "hairy, made of hair,"  Revelation 6:12 , lit., "hairy sackcloth." Cp. Sackcloth

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [3]

By primitive and ancient peoples in general, the hair (θρίξ, τρίχες) is regarded as a special centre of vitality, and to this belief the various forms of the hair-offering are ultimately due. The only examples of this practice in the literature under review are afforded by St. Paul’s vow, according to which he cut off his hair at Cenchreae ( Acts 18:18), and by the similar vows of the four men at Jerusalem, whose expenses St. Paul paid as an evidence of his Jewish piety ( Acts 21:24). These are to be explained from the Nazirite vow of the OT (Numbers 6). Josephus writes of his own times that ‘it is usual with those who had been afflicted either with a distemper, or with any other distresses, to make vows; and for thirty days before, they are to offer their sacrifices, to abstain from wine, and to shave the hair off their head’ ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. xv. 1). St. Paul would accordingly offer at Jerusalem the hair that had grown during the month since the vow began at Cenchreae. The same belief in the peculiar vitality of the hair may underlie the proverbial reference to it; ‘there shall not a hair perish from the head of any of you’ ( Acts 27:34; cf.  1 Samuel 14:45,  2 Samuel 14:11,  1 Kings 1:52,  Matthew 10:30,  Luke 21:18), though the number and minuteness of the separate hairs are also implied.

The elaborate arrangement and adornment of the hair are found in primitive as well as in advanced civilizations ( e.g. see the illustrations of male Fijians in Lubbock’s Origin of Civilization 5, 1902, pl.[Note: plural.]ii. p. 68). The art was highly developed amongst Greek and Roman women, as may be seen from coins, etc., belonging to this period (reproductions in Seyffert, Dict. of Classical Antiquities 9, 1906, pp. 266, 267; J. E. Sandys, A Companion to Latin Studies , 1910, p. 198), Ovid, in his instructions to Roman ladies on the art of winning lovers, emphasizes the effect of an artistic and appropriate arrangement of the hair ( de art. Am . iii. 136f.; cf. Bigg, St. Peter and St. Jude , 1901, p. 152). Judith ‘braided the hair of her head’ when she set out to fascinate Holofernes ( Judith 10:3), and there are Talmudic references to the art (Buxtorf’s Lexicon , 1639, col. 389; Cheyne, Encyclopaedia Biblica ii. col. 1941). Against such elaborate adornment and all that it might imply, the apostolic warnings ( 1 Peter 3:3,  1 Timothy 2:9; see articleAdorning) are directed.

The greater abundance of hair possessed by woman as compared with man is mentioned by St. Paul in an argument against the practice of unveiled women praying and prophesying ( 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, κόμη), Nature’s covering, he says, shows that the veil should be employed; to be unveiled is no better than to be shorn (vv. 5, 6). The same sexual difference is in view in the description of the Apocalyptic locusts: ‘they had hair as the hair of women’ ( Revelation 9:8). In the Apocalyptic vision of Christ, His hair is said to be ‘while as white wool, as snow’ ( Revelation 1:14), a detail of dignity borrowed from the OT picture of Jahweh, as ‘ancient of days’ ( Daniel 7:9).

H. Wheeler Robinson.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

Shaved closely by men, worn long by women, in Egypt. The Hebrew wore long beards; the Egyptians only in mourning did so. At the same time the Hebrew kept the distinction of sexes by clipping the hair of men (though hardly so much as we do;  Leviticus 10:6; Hebrew: "let not loose (the hair of) your heads," not "uncover," etc.), but not of women ( 1 Corinthians 11:6, etc.;  Luke 7:38). The law forbad them to "round the corners of their heads, or mar the cornners of the beard"; for the Arabs in honour of the idol Orotal cut the hair from the temples in a circular form, and in mourning marred their beards ( Leviticus 19:27;  Jeremiah 9:26 margin,  Jeremiah 48:37). Baldness, being often the result of leprosy, disqualified for the priesthood ( Leviticus 21:20, Septuagint). (See Baldness .)

Absalom's luxuriant hair is mentioned as a sign of beauty, but was a mark of effeminacy; its weight perhaps was 20, not 200 shekels, the numeral resh (r) having by a copyist's error been substituted for kaph (k) ( 2 Samuel 14:26). Nazarites wore it uncut, a sign of humiliation and self-denial, at the same time of dedication of all the strength, of which hair was a token, to God ( Numbers 6:5;  Judges 13:5;  Judges 16:17). Shaving the head was often practiced in fulfillment of a vow, as Paul did, the shaving being usually followed by a sacrifice in 30 days ( Acts 18:18); probably his vow was made in some sickness ( Galatians 4:13).

Black was the favorite color.  Song of Solomon 5:11, the bridegroom's locks are "bushy" (curled), betokening headship;  Song of Solomon 4:1, the hair of goats in the East being fine like silk and flowing, the token of the bride's subjection;  Song of Solomon 1:5;  Song of Solomon 7:5, "purple," i.e. glossy black.  Ecclesiastes 12:5, "the almond tree shall flourish." does not refer to white hair on the old, for the almond blossom is pink, but to the almond (lit. the wakeful) tree blossoming in winter, i.e. the wakefulness of old age shall set in. But Gesenius, "(the old man) loathes the (sweet) almond."

In  Song of Solomon 7:5, for "galleries" translated "the king is held (fascinated) with the flowing ringlets." The hair was often platted in braids, kept in their place by a fillet. So Samson's "seven locks" ( Judges 16:13;  Judges 16:19; compare  1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3). Egyptian women swear by their sidelocks, and men by their beards; the Jews' imitation of this our Lord condemns ( Matthew 5:36). Hair represents what is least valuable ( Matthew 10:30); innumerable to man, but "all numbered" by God's providence for His children. "Hair as the hair of women" ( Revelation 9:8), long and flowing, a mark of semi-barbarous hosts ( 1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Hair. The Hebrews allowed the hair to grow thick and somewhat long.  Ezekiel 8:3. Baldness was disliked, as sometimes symptomatic of leprosy,  Leviticus 13:40-44 : hence the reproach uttered against Elisha,  2 Kings 2:23. Cuttings of the hair, such as were usual in idolatrous worship, were forbidden.  Leviticus 19:27;  Deuteronomy 14:1. Still this seems to have been a Hebrew custom in mourning,  Jeremiah 7:29; while, on the contrary, the Egyptians let their hair grow when in distress, and shaved or cut it on returning prosperity.  Genesis 41:14 : comp. Herodotus, lib. ii. 36. in. 12. The way in which Absalom let his hair grow was no doubt the vanity of a young and handsome man.  2 Samuel 14:26. Thus, to uncover the ear is a common phrase for communicating a secret,  1 Samuel 9:15, marg., 20:2, marg., as if it were necessary to put aside the locks in order to whisper in the ear. There was, however, a clear distinction made between the sexes in this respect,  1 Corinthians 11:14-15; so that the women wore their hair very long.  Luke 7:38;  John 12:3. Hence, perhaps, the long hair of the Nazirites was to indicate humility and subjection.  Numbers 6:5. The color of the hair was generally black,  Song of Solomon 5:11; but the gray hairs of age were regarded as especially venerable,  Proverbs 16:31; on this account, perhaps, the hairs of the Ancient of Days are likened to "pure wool."  Daniel 7:9. Samson had seven plaits in his hair,  Judges 16:13;  Judges 16:19; and these must have been fastened with a fillet.  Ezekiel 24:17. Of course greater pains were taken by females in thus adorning themselves; so that we read in many passages of both scripture and the apocrypha of tiling the head and braiding the hair.  2 Kings 9:30;  1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3;  Judith 10:3. It was also worn in curls: the "well-set hair,"  Isaiah 3:24, probably implied the artistical arrangement of these. There are several references to the curls in the descriptions of Solomon's Song. Thus "the chain of the neck,"  Song of Solomon 4:9, might be a long lock or curl falling down upon the neck; and the "galleries," R. V., "tresses," 7:5, were the curls in orderly array. The hair was commonly anointed with fragrant oil or perfume.  Psalms 23:5;  Psalms 133:2;  Matthew 6:17;  Luke 7:46.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

 Judges 16:22 (b) Samson's long hair revealed his belief and trust in the commandment of GOD. As a Nazarite, he was wholly given over to GOD, and this included wearing long hair. He was really discarding his oath and his position as a Nazarite. When he permitted the hair to grow again, this was his testimony that he again was returning to the GOD of his youth, and was now to be obedient to GOD's Word. (See chap  13:5).

 2 Samuel 14:26 (c) Since Absalom was GOD's enemy, GOD could find little that was good to say about him. He had very beautiful long, heavy hair, and so the Lord records this fact. It was the only commendable thing that could be said about him, for he was very wicked in his character and conduct.

 Song of Solomon 4:1 (a) The mixture of white hair with dark hair as age progresses is compared to the white goats and dark goats mingled together on the hillside as seen from afar.

 Song of Solomon 5:11 (b) The black hair of our wonderful Lord Jesus was an indication of his youthful character, His power, vigor, vision and activity as a rich young king.

 Song of Solomon 7:5 (b) The purple hair of our Lord JESUS is a picture of His royal character, being the Son of GOD, in the royal family, and with all the royal prerogatives of the living GOD.

 Isaiah 7:20 (a) This strange figure is used to describe the "trimming" that the King of Assyria would administer to Israel. He would not and he could not destroy them, but GOD would let him take away much of that which belonged to Israel, desecrating their land, and wrecking their homes.

 Jeremiah 7:29 (a) By this figure the Lord is describing the attitude of repentance and humbleness that Israel should take before Him. Jeremiah's heart was fully set on seeing Israel break down in their spirits and humbly seek the GOD of their fathers.

 Ezekiel 5:1 (a) This strange picture represents GOD's people in their weakness, insignificance and uselessness. They had wandered so far from GOD that they were no more important than a few hairs from the body. The hairs represent the people of Israel.

 Hosea 7:9 (a) This figure is used to describe the fact that GOD's people may grow weak, old and helpless without recognizing the fact. Israel had drifted from the Lord, had forsaken the fountain of living waters, and had lost their power, but they were not aware of it. Samson too lost his power, and did not know it until he was overcome by the Philistines.

 John 11:2 (b) Since the hair is given to a woman for her glory, this was a picture of Mary laying her glory at JESUS' feet. (See also  Luke 7:38;  1 Corinthians 11:15).

 Revelation 1:14 (b) The white hair of the Lord JESUS is a picture of His eternal character ever living with GOD, ever ruling and reigning through all the eternities. It indicates that the Lord JESUS is the ancient of days filled with wisdom, knowledge, understanding and discretion.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

The eastern females wear their hair, which the prophet emphatically calls the "instrument of their pride," very long, and divided into a great number of tresses. In Barbary, the ladies all affect to have their hair hang down to the ground, which, after they have collected into one lock, they bind and plait with ribands. Where nature has been less liberal in its ornaments, the defect is supplied by art, and foreign is procured to be interwoven with the natural hair. The Apostle's remark on this subject corresponds entirely with the custom of the east; as well as with the original design of the Creator: "Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given her for a covering,"  1 Corinthians 11:14 . The men in the east, Chardin observes, are shaved; the women nourish their hair with great fondness, which they lengthen by tresses, and tufts of silk down to the heels. But among the Hebrews the men did not shave their heads; they wore their natural hair, though not long; and it is certain that they were at a very remote period, initiated in the art of cherishing and beautifying the hair with fragrant ointments. The head of Aaron was anointed with a precious oil, compounded after the art of the apothecary; and in proof that they had already adopted the practice, the congregation were prohibited, under pain of being cut off, to make any other like it, after the composition of it,  Exodus 30:32-33 . The royal Psalmist alludes to the same custom in the twenty-third Psalm: "Thou anointest my head with oil." We may infer from the direction of Solomon, that the custom had at least become general in his time: "Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head lack no ointment,"  Ecclesiastes 9:8 . After the hair is plaited and perfumed, the eastern ladies proceed to dress their heads, by tying above the lock into which they collect it, a triangular piece of linen, adorned with various figures in needlework. This, among persons of better fashion, is covered with a sarmah, as they call it, which is made in the same triangular shape, of thin flexible plates of gold or silver, carefully cut through, and engraven in imitation of lace, and might therefore answer to השהרנים , the moonlike ornament mentioned by the prophet in his description of the toilette of a Jewish lady,  Isaiah 3:18 . Cutting off the hair was a sign of mourning,  Jeremiah 7:29; but sometimes in mourning they suffered it to grow long. In ordinary sorrows they neglected their hair; and in violent paroxysms they plucked it off with their hands.

John Baptist was clothed in a garment made of camel's hair, not with a camel's skin, as painters and sculptors represent him, but with coarse camlet made of camel's hair. The coat of the camel in some places yields very fine silk, of which are made stuffs of very great price; but in general this animal's hair is hard, and scarcely fit for any but coarse habits, and a kind of hair cloth. Some are of opinion that camlet derives its name from the camel, being originally composed of the wool and hair of camels; but at present there is no camel's hair in the composition of it, as it is commonly woven and sold among us.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Numbers 6:5 Matthew 3:4 Song of Solomon 5:11 Judges 16:13 2 Samuel 14:25-26 1 Corinthians 11:14-15

Gray or white hair was a respected sign of age ( Proverbs 20:29 ). But baldness could be considered embarrassing or even humiliating ( 2 Kings 2:23;  Ezekiel 7:18 ). In  Leviticus 13:1 , which gives extensive instruction on the diagnosis of leprosy (probably including other skin diseases), the color of the hairs in an infected area of skin indicated whether the disease was present or had been cured. A cured leper was required to shave his entire body ( Leviticus 14:8-9 ).

Hair among the Israelites required good care. Women usually wore their hair loose, but sometimes they braided it ( 2 Kings 9:30 ). New Testament writers cautioned against ostentation in women's hairstyles ( 1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3 ). Hair that was anointed with oil symbolized blessing and joy ( Psalm 23:5;  Hebrews 1:9 ). Some hosts provided oil to anoint honored guests ( Luke 7:46 ). Mourning was indicated by disheveled, unkept hair ( Joshua 7:6;  2 Samuel 14:2 ). Jesus told His followers not to follow the custom of the Pharisees, who refused to care for their hair while they were fasting ( Matthew 6:17 ).

Israelite men trimmed their hair, but the law prohibited them from cutting off the hair above their ears ( Leviticus 19:27 ). This restriction probably originally forbade some pagan custom ( Deuteronomy 14:1-2 ), but orthodox Jews still wear long sidecurls. Those who took a Nazirite vow were forbidden from cutting their hair during the course of their vow, but afterward, their entire head was to be shaved ( Numbers 6:1-21;  Acts 18:18;  Acts 21:24 ).

Because hairs are so many, they may symbolize the concept of being innumerable ( Psalm 40:12 ). Because they seem so unimportant, they can stand for insignificant things ( Luke 21:18 ).

Kendell Easley

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

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 Samuel 14:26. In times of affliction, the hair was altogether cut off.  Isaiah 3:17;  Isaiah 3:24;  Isaiah 15:2;  Jeremiah 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 of Solomon 5:11, as is indicated in the comparisons in  Song of Solomon 1:5;  Song of Solomon 4:1; a similar hue is probably intended by the Purple of  Song of Solomon 7:6. Pure white hair was deemed characteristic of the divine Majesty.  Daniel 7:9;  Revelation 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,  Judith 10:3, and in the New Testament,  1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3.

The arrangement of Samson's hair into seven locks, or more properly braids,  Judges 16:13;  Judges 16:19, 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 Samuel 14:2;  Psalms 23:6;  Psalms 92:10;  Ecclesiastes 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,  Matthew 5:36, much as the Egyptian women still swear by the side-locks, and the men by their beards.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

  • 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.

    Baldness disqualified any one for the priest's office ( Leviticus 21 ).

    Elijah is called a "hairy man" ( 2 Kings 1:8 ) from his flowing locks, or more probably from the shaggy cloak of hair which he wore. His raiment was of camel's hair.

    Long hair is especially noticed in the description of Absalom's person ( 2 Samuel 14:26 ); but the wearing of long hair was unusual, and was only practised as an act of religious observance by Nazarites ( Numbers 6:5;  Judges 13:5 ) and others in token of special mercies ( Acts 18:18 ).

    In times of affliction the hair was cut off ( Isaiah 3:17,24;  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 figure of the entire destruction of a people ( Isaiah 7:20 ). The Hebrews anointed the hair profusely with fragrant ointments ( Ruth 3:3;  2 Samuel 14:2;  Psalm 23:5;  45:7 , etc.), especially in seasons of rejoicing ( Matthew 6:17;  Luke 7:46 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Hair'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Webster's Dictionary [11]

    (1): ( n.) A slender outgrowth from the chitinous cuticle of insects, spiders, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Such hairs are totally unlike those of vertebrates in structure, composition, and mode of growth.

    (2): ( n.) Hair (human or animal) used for various purposes; as, hair for stuffing cushions.

    (3): ( n.) One the above-mentioned filaments, consisting, in invertebrate animals, of a long, tubular part which is free and flexible, and a bulbous root imbedded in the skin.

    (4): ( n.) A spring device used in a hair-trigger firearm.

    (5): ( n.) A haircloth.

    (6): ( n.) Any very small distance, or degree; a hairbreadth.

    (7): ( n.) The collection or mass of filaments growing from the skin of an animal, and forming a covering for a part of the head or for any part or the whole of the body.

    (8): ( n.) An outgrowth of the epidermis, consisting of one or of several cells, whether pointed, hooked, knobbed, or stellated. Internal hairs occur in the flower stalk of the yellow frog lily (Nuphar).

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [12]

    The Jewish men, except Nazarites,  Numbers 6:5,9 , and cases like that of Absalom,  2 Samuel 14:26 , cut their hair moderately short,  1 Corinthians 11:14 , and applied fragrant ointments to it,  Exodus 30:30-33   Psalm 23:5   Ecclesiastes 9:8 . In mourning they wholly neglected it, or shaved it close, or plucked it out by handfuls,  Jeremiah 7:29 . Women prized a fine head of hair, and plaited, perfumed, and decked it in many ways,  Isaiah 3:18,24   1 Corinthians 11:15 , so much as to call for apostolic interdictions,  1 Timothy 2:9   1 Peter 3:9 . "Hair like women's" characterized the locusts of antichrist,  Revelation 9:8 . Lepers when cleansed, and Levites, on their consecration, shaved the whole body,  Leviticus 13:1-59   14:8,9 .

    King James Dictionary [13]

    HAIR, n.

    1. A small filament issuing from the skin of an animal, and from a bulbous root. Each filament contains a tube or hollow within, occupied by a pulp or pith, which is intended for its nutrition,and extends only to that part which is in a state of growth.

    When hair means a single filament,it has a plural,hairs.

    2. The collection or mass of filaments growing from the skin of an animal, and forming an integument or covering as the hair of the head. Hair is the common covering of many beasts. When the filaments are very fine and short, the collection of them is called fur. Wool, also, is a kind of hair. When hair signifies a collection of these animal filaments, it has no plural. 3. Any thing very small or fine or a very small distance the breadth of a hair. He judges to a hair, that is, very exactly. 4. A trifling value. It is not worth a hair. 5. Course order grain the hair falling in a certain direction. Not used.

    You go against the hair of your profession.

    6. Long, straight and distinct filaments on the surface of plants a species of down or pubescence.

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [14]

    Given by God as an ornament and a protection for the head. The Israelites were not to "round the corners of their heads," doubtless in allusion to some heathen practice, one of which has been described as "cutting the hair in a ring away from the temples."  Leviticus 19:27 . Neither were they to make any baldness between their eyes for the dead.  Deuteronomy 14:1 . Baldness should come as a judgement.  Isaiah 15:2;  Jeremiah 9:26 , margin  ;  Jeremiah 48:37 .

    Long hair is referred to in the N.T. as the natural covering of a woman, as owning her subjection to the man, and is a glory to her; but nature teaches that if a man have long hair, it is a shame to him. His head must not thus be covered, for "he is the image and glory of God."  1 Corinthians 11:6-15 . "Hair as the hair of women" is a symbol of subjection to a head, and effeminacy.  Revelation 9:8 .

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

    hâr ( שׂער , sē‛ār , שׂער , sa‛ar , Aramaic שׂער , se‛ar , and their derivatives; θρίξ , thrı́x , gen. case τριχός . trichós , κόμη , kómē ):

    1. Hair Fashions

    Hair was worn in different fashions by the Orientals of Biblical times, and not always in the same way among the same people in different epochs. We know this clearly from Egyptian literature and monuments, as well as from the writings of Greek authors (especially Herodotus), that the dwellers on the Nile had their heads shaved in early youth, leaving but a side lock until maturity was attained, when this mark of childhood was taken away. Priests and warriors kept their heads closely shaved; nothing but the exigencies of arduous warfare were allowed to interfere with this custom. On the other hand, the Hebrew people, like their Babylonian neighbors (Herod. i.195), affected long and well-cared-for, bushy curls of hair as emblems of manly beauty. Proofs thereof are not infrequent in the Scriptures and elsewhere. Samson's ( Judges 16:13 ,  Judges 16:19 ) and Absalom's ( 2 Samuel 14:26 ) long luxuriant hair is specially mentioned, and the Shulammite sings of the locks of her beloved which are "bushy (the Revised Version, margin "curling"), and black as a raven" ( Song of Solomon 5:11 ). Josephus ( Ant. , VIII, vii, 3 (185)) reports that Solomon's body-guard was distinguished by youthful beauty and "luxuriant heads of hair." In the history of Samson we read of "the seven locks of his head" ( Judges 16:19 ). It is likely that the expression signifies the plaits of hair which are even now often worn by the young Bedouin warrior of the desert.

    2. Hair in Idol Worship

    It is well known that among the surrounding heathen nations the hair of childhood or youth was often shaved and consecrated at idolatrous shrines (compare Herod. ii.65 for Egypt). Frequently this custom marked an initiatory rite into the service of a divinity (e.g. that of Orotal (Bacchus) in Arabia, Herod. iii.8). It was therefore an abomination of the Gentiles in the eyes of the Jew, which is referred to in  Leviticus 19:27;  Jeremiah 9:26;  Jeremiah 25:23;  Jeremiah 49:32 . The Syriac version of the latter passage renders, "Ye shall not let your hair grow long" (i.e. in order to cut it as a religious rite in honor of an idol). It is, however, probable that among the Jews, as now among many classes of Mohammedans, the periodical cropping of the hair, when it had become too cumbersome, was connected with some small festivity, when the weight of the hair was ascertained, and its weight in silver was given in charity to the poor. At least, the weighing of Absalom's hair ( 2 Samuel 14:26 ) may be referred to some such custom, which is not unparalleled in other countries. The use of balances in connection with the shaving-off of the hair in  Ezekiel 5:1 is certainly out of the common. See illustration, "Votive Offering," on p. 1302.

    3. The Nazirite Vow

    We may also compare the shaving of the head of the Nazirite to these heathen practices, though the resemblance is merely superficial. The man who made a vow to God was responsible to Him with his whole body and being. Not even a hair was to be injured willfully during the whole period of the vow, for all belonged to God. The conclusion of the Nazirite vow was marked by sacrifices and the shaving of the head at the door of the sanctuary ( Numbers 6:1-21 ), indicative of a new beginning of life. The long untouched hair was therefore considered as the emblem of personal devotion (or devotedness) to the God of all strength. Thus it was an easy step to the thought that in the hair was the seat of strength of a Samson ( Judges 16:17 ,  Judges 16:20 ). God has numbered the very hairs of the head ( Matthew 10:30;  Luke 12:7 ), which to human beings conveys the idea of the innumerableness ( Psalm 40:12;  Psalm 69:4 ). What God can number, He can also protect, so that not even a hair of the head might "fall to the earth" or "perish." These phrases express complete safety ( 1 Samuel 14:45;  2 Samuel 14:11;  1 Kings 1:52;  Luke 21:18;  Acts 27:34 ).

    4. Later Fashions

    In New Testament times, especially in the Diaspora, the Jews frequently adopted the fashion of the Romans in cropping the hair closely ( 1 Corinthians 11:14 ); still the fear of being tainted by the idolatrous practice of the heathen, which is specially forbidden in  Leviticus 21:5 , was so great that the side locks remained untouched and were permitted to grow ad libitum . This is still the custom among the Jews of Eastern Europe and the Orient. See also Head .

    5. Woman's Hair

    If Hebrew men paid much attention to their hair, it was even more so among Hebrew women. Long black tresses were the pride of the Jewish maiden and matron ( Song of Solomon 7:5;  John 11:2;  1 Corinthians 11:5 ,  1 Corinthians 11:6 ,  1 Corinthians 11:15 ), but many of the expressions used in connection with the "coiffures" of women do not convey to us more than a vague idea. The "locks" of the King James Version in  Song of Solomon 4:1 ,  Song of Solomon 4:3;  Song of Solomon 6:7;  Isaiah 47:2 ( צמּה , cēmmāh ) probably do not refer to the hair, but should be translated (as does the Revised Version (British and American), which follows the Septuagint) by "veil." דּלּה , dallāh ( Song of Solomon 7:5 ), signifies the slender threads which represent the unfinished web in the loom (compare  Isaiah 38:12 ), and thence the flowing hair of women (the Revised Version (British and American) "hair"). רהטים , rehāṭı̄m (the Revised Version (British and American) "tresses"), in the same verse of the Song of Songs means literally the "gutters" at which the flocks were watered (compare  Genesis 30:38 ,  Genesis 30:41 ), and thus the long plaits of the maiden with which the lover toys and in which he is held captive. The braiding or dressing of woman's hair is expressed in  2 Kings 9:30 and Judith 10:3. In New Testament times Christian women are warned against following the fashionable world in elaborate hairdressing (  1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3 ).

    6. Barbers

    The care of the hair, especially the periodical cutting of the same, early necessitated the trade of the barber. The Hebrew word גּלּב , gallābh is found in   Ezekiel 5:1 , and the plural form of the same word occurs in an inscriptiozn at Citium (Cyprus) ( CIS , 1586), where the persons thus described clearly belonged to the priests or servants of a temple. See Barber .

    7. Ointments

    Numerous were the cosmetics and ointments applied to the hair ( Ecclesiastes 9:8;  Matthew 6:17; perhaps Rth 3:3), but some, reserved for sacramental purposes, were prohibited for profane use ( Exodus 30:32;  Psalm 133:2 ). Such distinction we find also in Egypt, where the walls of temple laboratories were inscribed with extensive recipes of such holy oils, while the medical papyri (see especially Papyrus Ebers, plates 64-67) contain numerous ointments for the hair, the composition of some of which is ascribed to a renowned queen of antiquity. Even Greek and Roman medical authors have transmitted to us the knowledge of some such prescriptions compounded, it is said, by Queen Cleopatra Vi of Egypt, the frivolous friend of Caesar and Antony (see my dissertation, Die über die medicinischen Kenntnisse der alten Aegypter berichtenden Papyri , ere, Leipzig, 1888, 121-32). We know from Josephus ( Ant. , Xvi , viii, 1 (233)), that Herod the Great, in his old age, dyed his hair black, a custom, however, which does not appear to be specifically Jewish, as hair-dyes as well as means for bleaching the hair were well known in Greece and Rome. It is certain that the passage  Matthew 5:36 would not have been spoken, had this been a common custom in the days of the Lord. A special luxury is mentioned by Josephus ( Ant. , VIII, vii, 3 (185)), who states that the young men who formed the body-guard of King Solomon were in the habit, on festive occasions, of sprinkling their long hair with gold-dust (ψῆγμα χρυσοῦ , psḗgma chrusoú ).

    For the Jews the anointing of the head was synonymous with joy and prosperity (compare  Psalm 23:5;  Psalm 92:10;  Hebrews 1:9; compare also "oil of joy,"  Isaiah 61:3 , and "oil of gladness,"  Psalm 45:7 ). It was also, like the washing of feet, a token of hospitality ( Psalm 23:5;  Luke 7:46 ).

    On the contrary, it was the custom in times of personal or national affliction and mourning to wear the hair unanointed and disheveled, or to cover the head with dust and ashes ( 2 Samuel 14:2;  Joshua 7:6;  Job 2:12 ), or to tear the hair or to cut it off ( Ezra 9:3;  Nehemiah 13:25;  Jeremiah 7:29 ).

    8. Symbolical Use of Word

    We have referred to the thickness of hair which supplied the Hebrew with a suitable expression for the conception "innumerable." Hair is also expressive of minuteness; thus the 700 left-handed men of Benjamin were able to "sling stones at a hairbreadth, and not miss" ( Judges 20:16 ). Gray hairs and the hoary white of old age were highly honored by the Jews ( Proverbs 16:31;  Proverbs 20:29; 2 Macc 6:23). Besides expressing old age ( Isaiah 46:4 ), they stand for wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:9 (10)). Sometimes white hair is the emblem of a glorious, if not Divine, presence ( Daniel 7:9; 2 Macc 15:13;  Revelation 1:14 ). Calamity befalling the gray-headed was doubly terrible ( Genesis 42:38;  Genesis 44:29 ). The "hair of the flesh" is said to "stand up" ( Job 4:15; Sirach 27:14) when sudden terror or fear takes hold of a person. The symbolical language of  Isaiah 7:20 uses the "hair of the feet" (see Feet ) and "the beard" as synonymous with "the humble" and the "mighty of the people."

    Camel's hair (  Matthew 3:4;  Mark 1:6 ) is mentioned in connection with the description of John the Baptist's raiment. It represents, according to Jerome, a rough shirt worn under the coat or wrapper, though a rather soft fabric is produced in Arabia from the finer wool of the camel.

    Goat's hair was the material of a cloth used for wearing apparel and for a more or less waterproof covering of tents and bundles. It is the black tent-cloth of Kedar' (  Song of Solomon 1:5;  Exodus 26:7;  Exodus 36:14 ). In New Testament times it was the special product of Paul's native province, Cilicia, whence its name cilicium , and its manufacture formed the apostle's own trade ( Acts 18:3 ). It is also mentioned as a material for stuffing pillows ( 1 Samuel 19:13 ). See also Weaving .

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

    Is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and in scarcely anything has the caprice of fashion been more strikingly displayed than in the various forms which the taste of different countries and ages has prescribed for disposing of this natural covering of the head. The Greeks let their hair grow to a great length. The early Egyptians, again, who were proverbial for their habits of cleanliness, removed the hair as an encumbrance, and the almost unavoidable occasion of sordid and offensive negligence. All classes among that people, not excepting the slaves imported from foreign countries, were required to submit to the tonsure and yet, what was remarkable in the inhabitants of a hot climate, while they removed their natural hair, they were accustomed to wear wigs, which were so constructed that 'they far surpassed,' says Wilkinson, 'the comfort and coolness of the modern turban, the reticulated texture of the groundwork on which the hair was fastened allowing the heat of the head to escape, while the hair effectually protected it from the sun.' Different from the custom both of the Greeks and the Egyptians, that of the Hebrews was to wear their hair generally short, and to check its growth by the application of scissors only. The priests at their inauguration shaved off all their hair, and when on actual duty at the temple, were in the habit, it is said, of cutting it every fortnight. The only exceptions to this prevailing fashion are found in the case of the Nazarites, whose hair, from religious duty, was not to be cropped during the term of their vow; of young persons who, during their minority, allowed their hair to hang down in luxuriant ringlets on their shoulders; of such effeminate persons as Absalom and of Solomon's horse-guards, whose vanity affected a puerile extravagance, and who strewed their heads every day with particles of gold-dust. Although the Hebrews wore their hair short, they were great admirers of strong and thickset locks; and so high a value did they set on the possession of a good head of hair, that they deprecated nothing so much as baldness. To prevent or remedy this defect they seem, at an early period, to have availed themselves of the assistance of art, not only for beautifying the hair, but increasing its thickness; while the heads of the priests were anointed with an unguent of a peculiar kind, the ingredients of which, with their various proportions, were prescribed by divine authority, and the composition of which the people were prohibited, under severe penalties, from attempting to imitate . This custom spread till anointing the hair of the head became a general mark of gentility and an essential part of the daily toilet; the usual cosmetics employed consisting of the best oil of olives mingled with spices, a decoction of parsley-seed in wine, and more rarely of spikenard . The prevailing color of hair among the Hebrews was dark; 'locks bushy and black as a raven,' being mentioned in the description of the bridegroom as the perfection of beauty in mature manhood . Hence the appearance of an old man with a snow-white head in a company of younger Jews, all whose heads, like those of other Eastern people, were jet black—a most conspicuous object—is beautifully compared to an almond-tree, which in the early part of the year is in full blossom, while all the others are dark and leafless . Among the Romans it was customary to employ artificial means for changing or disguising the silver hue of age. From Rome the fashion spread into Greece and other provinces, and it appears that the members of the church of Corinth were, to a certain extent, captivated by the prevailing taste, some Christians being evidently in the eye of the Apostle, who had attracted attention by the cherished and womanly decoration of their hair . To them the letter of Paul was intended to administer a timely reproof for allowing themselves to fall in with a style of manners which, by confounding the distinctions of the sexes, threatened a baneful influence on good morals: and that not only the Christian converts in that city, but the primitive church generally, were led by this admonition to adopt simpler habits, is evident from the remarkable fact that a criminal, who came to trial under the assumed character of a Christian, was proved to the satisfaction of the judge to be an impostor, by the luxuriant and frizzled appearance of his hair.

    With regard to women, the possession of long and luxuriant hair is allowed by Paul to be an essential attribute of the sex—a graceful and modest covering provided by nature; and yet the same Apostle elsewhere concurs with Peter in launching severe invectives against the ladies of his day for the pride and passionate fondness they displayed in the elaborate decorations of their head-dress. As the hair was pre-eminently the 'instrument of their pride' (, margin), all the resources of ingenuity and art were exhausted to set it off to advantage and load it with the most dazzling finery; and many when they died caused their longest locks to be cut off, and placed separately in an urn, to be deposited in their tomb as the most precious and valued relics.

    From the great value attached to a profuse head of hair arose a variety of superstitious and emblematic observances, such as shaving parts of the head, or cropping it in a particular form; parents dedicating the hair of infants to the gods; young women theirs at their marriage; warriors after a successful campaign; sailors after deliverance from a storm; hanging it up on consecrated trees, or depositing it in temples; burying it in the tomb of friends, as Achilles did at the funeral of Patroclus; besides shaving, cutting off, or plucking it out, as some people did; or allowing it to grow in sordid negligence, as was the practice with others, according as the calamity that befell them was common or extraordinary, and their grief was mild or violent.

    Various metaphorical allusions are made to hair by the sacred writers, especially the prophets. 'Cutting off the hair' is a figure used to denote the entire destruction of a people by the righteous retributions of Providence 'Gray hairs here and there on Ephraim' portended the decline and fall of the kingdom of Israel . 'Hair like women's' forms part of the description of the Apocalyptic locusts, and historically points to the prevailing headdress of the Saracens, as well as the voluptuous effeminacy of the Antichristian clergy . And, finally, 'hair like fine wool' was a prominent feature in the appearance of the deified Redeemer, emblematic of the majesty and wisdom that belong to him .

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [17]

    Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hair'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.