Listings for "beard(s)" in the Bible
My NIV Concordance shows 16 listings for beard(s) - 11 are singular (beard) and 5 are plural (beards). Since this seems to be all we have regarding facial hair, let's see if we can determine how God feels about beards. I will include extra verses and notes if the meaning is not clear in the single verse. Here is a list of the verses:
8The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days.9On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair. They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
27Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
5Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies.*
*See Isaiah 61:6, 1 Peter 2:9
1 Samuel 21:13
13So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
2 Samuel 10:4
4So Hanun seized David's envoys, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
2 Samuel 10:5
5When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, "Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back."
2 Samuel 20:9
9Joab said to Amasa, "How are you, my brother?" Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. (See note* below)
*Joab took Amasa by the beard - As the manner of ancient times was when they saluted one another, and, it appears, is still a custom among some of the eastern people, who take one another by the chin or the beard when they would give a hearty salute. Thevenot says it is often done among the Turks, although at the same time he assures us it is a great affront to take one by the beard on any other account than to kiss him.
1 Chronicles 19:5
5When someone came and told David about the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, "Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back."
3When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.
1A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! 2It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe.
20In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River - the king of Assyria - to shave your heads and private parts, and to cut off your beards also.
2Dibon goes up to its temple, to its high places to weep; Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba. Every head is shaved and every beard cut off.
6I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
4The day after Gedaliah's assassination, before anyone knew about it, 5eighty men who had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes and cut themselves came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, bringing grain offerings and incense with them to the house of the LORD.
36So my heart laments for Moab like the music of a pipe; it laments like a pipe for the people of Kir Hareseth. The wealth they acquired is gone. 37Every head is shaved and every beard cut off; every hand is slashed and every waist is covered with sackcloth.
1Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. (See note * below)
*Read Ezekiel 4: 16-17. This is to be symbolic of a punishment for Jerusalem.
Some approve, some do not
When my wife reads these, she scans them and sees no commands or even suggestions that men should wear beards. I look at it and, rather than start with a blank slate, see that every man on earth is fitted with the same burden - if we do not shave, we have beards growing. So, we do not have to be told to grow beards, it just happens automatically to both Jews and Gentiles. If you start from there, it throws a whole different light on the issue. Let's look at each listing and see what we find.
What does God say?
First, Leviticus 14:8-9 is a prescription for a man with a defiling skin disease. He must remove the hair to be able to be cured.
Leviticus 19 is much like Leviticus 11 and 18. While there is a lot of disagreement about Leviticus 11 (clean and unclean foods), it is still a list of commands that apply in the same way as Leviticus 18 (incest). While most Gentiles will argue that Leviticus 11 doesn't apply to us, they all follow Leviticus 18 to the letter. Why be so choosy? They are both in the same book!
However, Leviticus 19 includes commands about Sabbath-keeping (Sabbath, not Sunday), making idols, stealing, lying, perverting justice, revenge, keeping God's laws, tattoos, and cutting (shaving, Leviticus 19:27
) the hair on the sides of your head and clipping the edges of your beards. (I had to go to the Interlinear to see the words of the Hebrew text because of the many inaccurate Bible translations out there that have the confusing "cut" instead of "shave".) Are we supposed to choose which we can and cannot do?
Leviticus 21:5 is merely telling priests not to shave their heads or the edges of their beards, the same instruction as in Leviticus 19:27 for every man. Now, if you read Isaiah 61:6 and 1 Peter 2:9, you will see that the Hebrews are to be a nation of priests. Pastors often include Christians as those addressed to be priests of this "priesthood of all believers" (see an example of this misdirection in the answer at Got Questions), but that is not what the Bible says, and the current misunderstanding in the Protestant churches changes the original intent of the whole book of 1 Peter:
1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
God's people are special
That first line after Peter's greeting starting at "To God's elect" clearly states the audience of Peter's letter. This is the opposite of the gist of the article at Got Questions. We are not in the "priesthood of all believers" - we are the believers in the domain of the priesthood, and not the priests, if we truly believe in Christ and act in the will of the Father.
The next five verses are from the books of Samuel and Chronicles and describe historical passages that include the mention of beards. There is no direction as to the reason or lack of reason to grow beards. The only thing we can gather is that if you have a beard (remember, we men have no choice unless we shave - which we are told not to do), then it is a disgrace to have it damaged or marred - whether by yourself or others.
Expression of pain
The passage in Ezra mentions causing damage to a beard because of traumatic events which have caused damage to our lives. The damage to the beard is symbolic of what has happened in our lives.
God likes it
The lines in Psalm 133:1-2 describe the harmony of God's people living in His will being as pleasant as the anointing of Aaron - the high priest of God's people.
Showing disapproval, retribution
Isaiah 7:20 describes God's using of a foreign king to cause disgrace to His people. That disgrace is like the shaving of the beard by an enemy.
Isaiah 15:2 describes people performing acts forbidden by God.
Isaiah 50:6 describes the submission of Christ to those who sought to disgrace Him by, among other things, damaging His beard.
Both references to Jeremiah show the shaving of the beard as a sign of mourning.
And finally, Ezekiel 5:1 is a symbolic reference to the punishment of Jerusalem.
So, what have we learned?
What do we take away from this? Having a beard seems to be the norm for God's people, at least in the Old Testament, and the Israelites were the only people to whom He was communicating. Removing or damaging that beard was always a sign of sickness, disgrace, embarrassment, or punishment. Did this change in the New Testament? Is it now a sign of arrogance for a Gentile Christian to grow a beard?
Sign of obedience in other matters?
Looking at it another way, let's say I decide not to have a beard because it seems that God only held the Israelites to that standard. God also only spoke to the Israelites about things like keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, not eating pork or crustaceans (Leviticus 11), not worshiping Him in the way of the pagans (Deuternonomy 12, that word "pagans" would include us Gentiles), incest (Leviticus 18), and a host of other subjects that cause today's "Christian's" skin to crawl.
Should I begin to ignore those rules as well, since I would then be rejecting acting like a Jew by not wearing a beard? What about Isaiah 56:1-8
This is what the Lord says:
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2Blessed is the one who does this-
the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
and keeps their hands from doing any evil."
3Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
"The Lord will surely exclude me from his people."
And let no eunuch complain,
"I am only a dry tree."
4For this is what the Lord says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant-
5to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant-
7these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations."
8The Sovereign Lord declares-
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered."
? God said that He would bless those "foreigners" who follow His rules and gather them in addition to His own people. That won't happen if we ignore this possible blessing by not following His rules. And it is not hard to find those rules. Those people who stand behind the "four Jewish rules" of the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 should read Acts 15:21:
21"For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Moses still matters
So, if they go to synagogue ("church"), the Gentiles should learn the rest of what they need to know instead of the Council having to repeat the scrolls of Moses in the letter. However, the "churches" of today do not teach Moses. In fact, they deny that the law matters to God at all, and doesn't even apply to the Gentiles. But, where does that concept leave us regarding Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:22-23
22"On that Day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! Didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we expel demons in your name? Didn't we perform many miracles in your name?' 23Then I will tell them to their faces, 'I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!' "
? (The various translations use the terms 'evildoers', or 'you who practice wickedness', but the original Greek uses the word anomian in the phrase 'those working lawlessness', properly translated in the CJB and the ESV). Notice that the Council did not say that these four things are the only things the Gentiles will ever have to do to be saved - that is something taught only by the pastors of today. And what about what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 5:8
8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
? If they only had to keep those four things, why would Paul have the Gentiles keep a Jewish festival and follow Jewish laws about incest?
Only Jews can be the "kingdom of priests"
It does seem that the sanctity of being God's chosen people was reserved for the Israelites - especially for the priesthood. Now, that does not say that some Gentiles cannot be teachers, or even pastors, of the Gentiles. They can be chosen by God and considered one of His people. But, they cannot become priests of God. While we Gentiles are not destined to be priests of God, it still seems that we should be acting as God would want His people (Jews) to act. We are admonished by our own pastors to act like Jesus and be like Him, and I'm pretty sure He was Jewish and acted like it. The trouble is, the vast majority of today's American pastors do not act like God's people nor do they encourage their congregations to do so. In fact, they discourage them from doing it.
"Be like Jesus, but not too Jewish..."
And we are not talking about imitating them by acting like we hate Jesus and want to crucify Him. The Jews try to closely follow God's will, and that offends "Christians". "Christians" refuse to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, they approve eating pork, celebrating the pagan holiday of Christmas and the fertility rituals of Easter. Even the Seventh-Day Adventists keep Christmas and Easter because their members are so used to it. That is not an assumption, I have spoken to them about it. Jesus kept the Sabbath, ate kosher, and would not have celebrated these pagan things of today's world. How in the world would a person act like Him without acting Jewish? Today's Christians around the world act exactly the opposite of the manner of the Jews and Jesus.
"Is that a girl or a guy?"
Another point about wearing a beard. In today's "do whatever you want" society, have you ever noticed a person that you could not identify clearly as a man or a woman? I have been surprised in both directions. Yes, some of those sightings are designed by the ambiguous person to be that way - deliberately confusing. However, since growing my beard, I have not yet encountered anyone who could not tell that I am not a woman. And, so far, I have not mistaken anyone with a beard for a woman. It is a clear sign of masculinity.
When I started this page, it was to see if I could determine whether I was really just being stubborn about wearing a beard that my wife hates. I thought I had good Biblical reason to have one, as well as a natural reason (if you don't shave, you will have a beard), but I wanted to study a little deeper and make sure. It is not always comfortable, is not easy to keep it appearing acceptable to others. It is hot during the summer, but warmer during the winter. In the few mentions of beards in the Bible, God seems to want His male followers to have one. It is always negative when a beard is damaged or removed. When that happens, they don't just leave it off, but they take "private" time to grow it back so they can again be "presentable".
I'll stick with God
It's not like I want to be "special", as the statistics at the top of this page show that about 33% of American men have facial hair and about 55% of the men of the world do. While I can't be dogmatic about it, it seems to be something that God approves, at least during the time when He was still communicating with the people of the earth through His prophets. Since we don't hear from Him that often today, it seems like we should stay in line with His last words to us on the subject.
Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at email@example.com and give us your view.