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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(properly יָפֶה, yapheh', καλός). Travellers inform us that in hot countries the greatest difference imaginable subsists between the complexions of the women. Those of high condition seldom go abroad, and are ever accustomed to be shaded from the sun with the greatest attention, and their skin is consequently fair and beautiful. But women in the lower ranks of life, especially in the country, being, from the nature of their employments, more exposed to the scorching rays of the sun, are in their complexion remarkably tawny and swarthy. Under such circumstances, a high value would of course be set by the Eastern ladies upon the fairness of their complexions, as a distinguishing mark of their superior quality, no less than as an enhancement of their beauty. This notion appears to have obtained as early as the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:11-13). Thus, also, how natural is the bride's self-abasing reflection in Song of Solomon 1:5-6, respecting her tawny complexion among the fair daughters of Jerusalem, who, as attendants on a royal marriage, were of the highest rank. Roberts observes, in reference to the daughters of Job being very fair (Job 42:15), "The word fair may sometimes refer to the form of the features as well as the color of the skin; but great value is attached to a woman of a light complexion. Hence our English females are greatly admired in the East, and instances have occurred where great exertions have been made to gain the hand of a fair daughter of Britain. The acme of perfection in a Hindu lady is to be of the color of gold." (See BEAU'TY).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Fair'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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