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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Bald

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(prop. קָרֵחִ, kare'ach, naturally bare of hair on the top or back of the head; Sept. φαλακρός; different was the גַּבֵּחִ, gibbe'ach, diseased loss of hair on forehead, Leviticus 13:41; Sept. ἀναφάλαντος ). There are two kinds of baldness, viz., artificial and natural, The latter seems to have been uncommon, since it exposed people to public derision, and is perpetually alluded to as a mark of squalor and misery (2 Kings 2:23; Isaiah 3:24, "instead of well-set hair, baldness, and burning instead of beauty."

Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 47:5; Ezekiel 7:18, etc.). For this reason it seems to have been included under the "scab" and "scurf" (Leviticus 21:20, perhaps i.q. dandruff), which were disqualifications for priesthood (Mishna, Berachoth, 7:2). In Leviticus 13:29 sq., very careful directions are given to distinguish the scall (בֹּהִק, bohak', freckled spot," Leviticus 13:39), described as "a plague (נֵגִע, ne'ga, stroke) upon the head and beard" (which probably is the Mentagra of Pliny, and is a sort of leprosy), from mere natural baldness which is pronounced to be clean, v. 40 (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. 189). (See LEPROSY). But this shows that even natural baldness subjected men to an unpleasant suspicion. It was a defect with which the Israelites were by no means familiar, since the Egyptians were very rarely subject to it, according to Herodotus (in, 12); an immunity which he attributes to their constant shaving. They adopted this practice for purposes of cleanliness, and generally wore wigs, some of which have been found in the ruins of Thebes. Contrary to the general practice of the East, they only let the hair grow as a sign of mourning (Herod. 2:36), and shaved themselves on all joyous occasions; hence in Genesis 41:44, we have an undesigned coincidence. The same custom obtains in China and among the modern Egyptians, who shave off all the hair except the shoosheh, a tuft on the forehead and crown of the head (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 3, 359 sq.; Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, ch. 1). Baldness was despised both among Greeks and Romans. In Homer (Il. 2:219) it is one of the defects of Thersites; Aristophanes (who was probably bald himself, Par, 767; Eq. 550) takes pride in not joining in the ridicule against it (Nub. 540). Caesar was said to have had some deformity of this sort, and he generally endeavored to conceal it (Suet. Caes. 45; comp. Dom. 18).

Artificial baldness marked the conclusion of a Nazarite's vow (Acts 18:18; Numbers 6:9), and was a sign of mourning (Cic. Tusc. Disp. 3, 26). It is often alluded to in Scripture, as in Micah 1:16; Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 47:5, etc.; and in Deuteronomy 14:1, the reason for its being forbidden to the Israelites is their being "a holy and peculiar people" (comp. Leviticus 19:27, and Jeremiah 9:26, marg.). The practices alluded to in the latter passages were adopted by heathen nations (e.g. the Arabs, etc.) in honor of various gods. The Abantes and other half-civilized tribes shaved off the forelocks, to avoid the danger of being seized by them in battle (Herod. 2:36; 1:82). (See HAIR).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bald'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/b/bald.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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