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beard Summary and Overview

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beard in Easton's Bible Dictionary

The mode of wearing it was definitely prescribed to the Jews (Lev. 19:27; 21:5). Hence the import of Ezekiel's (5:1-4) description of the "razor" i.e., the agents of an angry providence being used against the guilty nation of the Jews. It was a part of a Jew's daily toilet to anoint his beard with oil and perfume (Ps. 133:2). Beards were trimmed with the most fastidious care (2 Sam. 19:24), and their neglet was an indication of deep sorrow (Isa. 15:2; Jer. 41:5). The custom was to shave or pluck off the hair as a sign of mourning (Isa. 50:6; Jer. 48:37; Ezra 9:3). The beards of David's ambassadors were cut off by hanun (2 Sam. 10:4) as a mark of indignity. On the other hand, the Egyptians carefully shaved the hair off their faces, and they compelled their slaves to do so also (Gen. 41:14).

beard in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Western Asiatics have always cherished the beard as the badge of the dignity of manhood, and attached to it the importance of a feature. The Egyptians, on the contrary for the most part shaved the hair of the face and head, though we find some instances to the contrary. The beard is the object of an oath, and that on which blessing or shame is spoken of as resting. The custom was and is to shave or pluck it and the hair out in mourning, #Ezr 9:3; Isa 15:2; 50:6; Jer 41:5; 48:37| Bar. 6:31; to neglect it in seasons of permanent affliction, #2Sa 19:24| and to regard any insult to it as the last outrage which enmity can inflict. #2Sa 10:4| The beard was the object of salutation. #2Sa 20:9| The dressing, trimming, anointing, etc., of the beard was performed with much ceremony by persons of wealth and rank #Ps 133:2| The removal of the beard was a part of the ceremonial treatment proper to a leper. #Le 14:9|

beard in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

BEARD . Among the Jews much attention was paid to the beard. To show any contempt toward it by Fig. 1. Egyptian Beards. (After Wilkinson.) Fig. 2. Beards of Assyrian, and other Nations. (After Rosellini and Layard.) plucking it or touching it, except from respect or courtesy, was esteemed a gross insult, while to kiss it respectfully and affectionately was regarded as a signal mark of friendship. Tearing out the beard, cutting it entirely off, and neglecting to trim and dress it were all expressions of deep mourning. Ezr 9:3; Isa 15:2; Jer 41:5 and Jer 48:37. The Arabs and Orientals generally at this day cherish great respect for the beard. They solemnly swear by it; and their most significant and comprehensive phrase to express their good wishes for a friend is, "May God preserve your blessed beard!" We are told of an Arab who was wounded in the jaw, and chose to hazard his life rather than to have his beard cut off that the surgeon might examine the wound. Hence the keenness of the insult offered to David's ambassadors. 2 Sam 10:4-5. The Egyptians were accustomed to shave except when mourning, the direct opposite to the Jewish custom, but they wore false beards, made of plaited hair and graduated according to rank. The prohibition, Lev 19:27, against marring the "corners of the beard" refers probably to the Arabian custom of shaving off that portion of the beard upon the cheeks on a line with the ears.

beard in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

With Asiatics, a badge of manly dignity. The Egyptians mostly shaved the hair of the face and head, except in mourning. In consonance with this Egyptian usage, Scripture, with the undesigned propriety of truth, represents Joseph as having "shaved his beard," which he had allowed to grow in prison, before entering Pharaoh's presence (Genesis 41:14). Many Egyptians wore a false beard of plaited hair, private individuals small ones, kings long ones square below, the gods one turning at the end. Their enemies are represented bearded on the monuments. The Jews were forbidden to "round the corners of their heads or mar (i.e. shave off) the corners of their beards" (Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5). Baal worshippers rounded the beard and hair to make their faces round, like the sun. The Arabs trimmed their beard round in sign of dedication to some idol. Possibly the Israelites retained the hair between the ear and eye, which the Arabs shaved away (Jeremiah 9:26 margin; Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32; compare Herodotus, 3:8). The beard is sworn by in the E. as an object of veneration. Not to trim it marked affliction, as in Mephibosheth's case during Absalom's occupation of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19:24). An insult to it was resented as a gross outrage, as David did when Hanun shaved off half the beards of his ambassadors (2 Samuel 10:4). Compare God's threat of "shaving" away His people as "hair" with the Assyrian king as His "razor" (Isaiah 7:20). This was one gross indignity to which Jesus was subjected: "I gave My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair" (Isaiah 50:6). It was shaved in mourning (Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 41:5; Jeremiah 48:37). Only the nearest friends were permitted to touch the beard, which marks the foul treachery of Joab in taking his cousin Amasa's beard to kiss him, or rather it (2 Samuel 20:9). The precious ointment flowed from Aaron's head at his consecration, upon his beard (Psalm 133:2). The leper, at purification, had to shave his head and beard and eyebrows (Leviticus 14:9).