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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Baldness

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Natural baldness was apparently rare in Israel. It is mentioned only in the Levitical laws on leprosy (Leviticus 13:40-43 ), where the bald man is declared “clean” unless the bald area has evidence of redness or swelling. Archaeology has uncovered no depictions of bald men from Israel. Elisha was ridiculed for being bald, but he may have shaved his head to mourn Elijah's departure (2 Kings 2:23 ). Shaving the head for appearance or in grieving for the dead was prohibited by law (Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1 ), and especially for priests (Ezekiel 44:20 ). However, Isaiah told of God calling the people to acknowledge their sin with baldness and the wearing of sackcloth (Isaiah 22:12 ). A shorn head is frequently mentioned in conjunction with shaving the beard and wearing sackcloth to signify loss of loved ones or loss of hope (Isaiah 3:24; Isaiah 15:2-3; Jeremiah 48:37 ). Deuteronomy 21:11 may refer to a practice of making captives bald, to baldness in mourning, or to a symbol of a change in life-style. Ezekiel described men made to work so hard “every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled” ( Ezekiel 29:18 ), but there is no evidence that slaves were forced to shave their heads. See Mourning; Leprosy; Hair .

Tim Turnham

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Baldness'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/b/baldness.html. 1991.

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