“Of Well Set Hair, Baldness”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 3:24)

The hair, which was considered a chief point of beauty, was the object of special care. Young people wore it long; but in men this would have been regarded as a token of effeminacy (1 Cor. 11:14)… . Peasant girls tied their hair in a simple knot; but the fashionable Jewesses curled and plaited theirs, adorning the tresses with gold ornaments and pearls. The favourite colour was a kind of auburn, to produce which the hair was either dyed or sprinkled with gold-dust.

(Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994], 200.)

The absence of hair was a cause for shame… . The Bible views the shaving of the head as a mark of mourning (e.g., Jer 16:6) and as evidence of God’s judgment, both on his own people (e.g., Isa. 3:17, 24; 7:20; 22:12; Ezek. 7:18; Amos 8:10; Micah 1:16) and on their enemies (e.g., Isa. 15:2; Jer. 47:5; 48:37; Ezek. 27:31; 29:18)… .
To shave the head as a sign of mourning is forbidden for priests on the grounds that it would compromise their holy calling and “profane the name of their God” (Lev. 21:5; Ezek. 44:20).

(Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, ed. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III [Downers Grove, Illinios: InterVarsity Press, 1998], 70.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon