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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Forehead

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for´ed ( מצח , mēcaḥ ; μέτωπον , métōpon ):

(1) In a literal sense the word is used frequently in the Scriptures. Aaron and after him every high priest was to wear on the forehead the golden frontlet having the engraved motto, "Holy to Yahweh" ( Exodus 28:36 , Exodus 28:38 ). The condition of the forehead was an important criterion in the diagnosis of leprosy by the priest (Leviticus 13:42 , Leviticus 13:43 ; 2 Chronicles 26:20 ). It was in the forehead that brave young David smote Goliath with the stone from his sling (1 Samuel 17:49 ). The faulty translation of the King James Version in Ezekiel 16:12 has been corrected in the Revised Version (British and American), reference being had in the passage to a nose-ring, not to an ornament of the forehead. While the cutting or tattooing of the body was strictly forbidden to the Israelite on account of the heathen associations of the custom ( Leviticus 19:28 ), we find frequent mention made of markings on the forehead, which were especially used to designate slaves (see Philo, De Monarchia , I) or devotees of a godhead (Lucian, De Syria Dea, 59). In 3 Macc 2:29 we read that Ptolemy IV P hilopator branded some Jews with the sign of an ivy leaf, marking them as devotees of Bacchus-Dionysos. Possibly we may compare herewith the translation of Isaiah 44:5 (Revised Version margin): "And another shall write on his hand, Unto Yahweh" (or Yahweh's slave ). Very clear is the passage Ezekiel 9:4 , Ezekiel 9:6 (and perhaps Job 31:35 ), where the word used for "mark" is tāw , the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet which in its earliest form has the shape of an upright plus sign (Baal Lebanon Inscr; 11th century bc) or of a lying (St Andrew's) cross X (Moabite Inscr, 9th century bc), the simplest sign in the old Israelite alphabet, and at the same time the character which in the Greek alphabet represents the X, the initial of Christ. In the New Testament we find a clear echo of the above-mentioned Old Testament passage, the marking of the foreheads of the righteous (Revelation 7:3 ; Revelation 9:4 ; Revelation 14:1 ; Revelation 22:4 ). The godless followers of the beast are marked on the (right) hand and on the forehead (Revelation 13:16 ; Revelation 14:9 ; Revelation 20:4 ), and the apocalyptic woman dressed in scarlet and purple has her name written on her forehead (Revelation 17:5 ).

(2) In a metaphorical sense the expression, "a harlot's forehead," is used ( Jeremiah 3:3 ) to describe the shameless apostasy and faithlessness of Israel. Ezek speaks of the stiff-necked obstinacy and the persistent unwillingness of Israel to hear the message of Yahweh: "All the house of Israel are of a hard forehead and of a stiff heart" (Jeremiah 3:7 ), and God makes his prophet's "forehead hard ... as an adamant harder than flint," whereby an unflinching loyalty to God and a complete disregard of opposition is meant (Jeremiah 3:8 , Jeremiah 3:9 ). Compare the phrase: "to harden the face," under the word FACE .


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Forehead'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/f/forehead.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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