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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Beard

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The Hebrews wore their beards, but had, doubtless, in common with other Asiatic nations, several fashions in this, as in all other parts of dress. Moses forbids them, Leviticus 19:27 , "to cut off entirely the angle, or extremity of their beard;" that is, to avoid the manner of the Egyptians, who left only a little tuft of beard at the extremity of their chins. The Jews, in some places, at this day suffer a little fillet of hair to grow from below the ears to the chin: where, as well as upon their lower lips, their beards are long. When they mourned, they entirely shaved the hair of their heads and beards, and neglected to trim their beards, to regulate them into neat order, or to remove what grew on their upper lips and cheeks, Jeremiah 41:5; Jeremiah 48:37 . In times of grief and affliction, they plucked away the hair of their heads and beards, a mode of expression common to other nations under great calamities. The king of the Ammonites, designing to insult David in the person of his ambassadors, cut away half of their beards, and half of their clothes; that is, he cut off all their beard on one side of their faces, 2 Samuel 10:4-5; 1 Chronicles 19:5 . To avoid ridicule, David did not wish them to appear at his court till their beards were grown again. When a leper was cured of his leprosy, he washed himself in a bath, and shaved off all the hair of his body; after which, he returned into the camp, or city; seven days afterward, he washed himself and his clothes again, shaved off all his hair, and offered the sacrifices appointed for his purification, Leviticus 14:9 . The Levites, at their consecration, were purified by bathing, and washing their bodies and clothes; after which, they shaved off all the hair of their bodies, and then offered the sacrifices appointed for their consecration, Numbers 8:7 .

Nothing has been more fluctuating, in the different ages of the world and countries than the fashion of wearing the beard. Some have cultivated one part and some another; some have endeavoured to extirpate it entirely, while others have almost idolized it; the revolutions of countries have scarcely been more famous than the revolutions of beards. It is a great mark of infamy among the Arabs to cut off the beard. Many people would prefer death to this kind of treatment. As they would think it a grievous punishment to lose it, they carry things so far as to beg for the sake of it: "By your beard, by the life of your beard, God preserve your blessed beard." When they would express their value for any thing, they say, "It is worth more than a man's beard." And hence we may easily learn the magnitude of the offence of the Ammonites in their treatment of David's ambassadors, as above mentioned; and also the force of the emblem used Ezekiel 5:1-5 , where the inhabitants of Jerusalem are compared to the hair of his head and beard. Though they had been dear to God as the hair of an eastern beard to its owner, they should be taken away and consumed, one part by pestilence and famine, another by the sword, another by the calamities incident on exile.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Beard'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/b/beard.html. 1831-2.

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