And Biblical Significance Of The Beard
Dr. J. Howard Powell
not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor
observe times. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt
thou mar the corners of thy beard. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your
flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord" (Leviticus
Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say
unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people: But
for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his
father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, And
for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband;
for her may he be defiled. But he shall not defile himself, being a chief
man among his people, to profane himself. They shall not make baldness
upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard,
nor make any cuttings in their flesh. They shall be holy unto their God,
and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made
by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall
be holy" (Leviticus 21:1-6).
like to begin by telling you what I am not going to do, then positively,
tell you what I am going to do. First of all, I am not defending anyone's
beard, nor am I trying to defend myself if ever I decide to grow a beard.
That is not my aim in this message.
Secondly, I am not trying to bind my conscience upon yours, nor am I asking
you to see things my way ... but I am going to ask you to submit and be
easily entreated to God's engrafted word, which I believe when you hear
the word of this subject, you will be convinced and satisfied on this important
You are responsible to study the Word of God for yourself and see the truth
therein, for your conscience should be bound only to the Word of God and
not what man says.
Firstly, I am not saying that a man who has a beard is more holy than one
who does not have a beard. And I am not saying that a man who does not
have a beard is less holy than one who does have a beard.
I am not necessarily encouraging anyone to grow a beard, but I am certainly
not discouraging it either.
Now I want to ask you to do several things, and the first one is this:
7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous
judgment." All too often we are in the habit of judging by appearance.
I am not talking about the overbearing appearance of Hippies and unclad
women. But someone says, "That beard on that man just appears bad because
its bad to have a beard."
Surely, there are ways to dress and appear which is sinful, and we have
a right to judge, but only by "righteous judgment."
If you judged by appearance instead of righteous judgment, I could take
you into the Post Office of the United States and show you men on the wanted
list and you will discover that about 90 per cent of those men who have
their pictures on the wanted list are clean shaven. Therefore, I could
conclude, if I judged according to appearance, that anyone that is clean
shaven is a criminal and must be wanted by the F. B. I. Now that would
be silly, wouldn't it? Well, that is not judging righteous judgment, but
is simply judging by appearance.
Let me clear up another area also. Someone says, "Well, you know beards
are associated with the dirty, sinful life of the hippies." Well, that
is not necessarily so as I am going to prove to you with the Scripture.
Just because someone perverts a truth does not mean that you throw that
truth out the window of one's life. For instance: The Roman Catholic Church
has perverted the Lord's Table by turning it into a perpetual mass. Every
time the bread and fruit of the vine is partaken, they believe it is actually
turned into the literal blood and body of Christ. Just because they have
perverted that truth, does not mean that we are to cease using the communion
table, but rather we continue to use it in its Biblical, proper perspective.
And some have taken the ordinance of Baptism and perverted it to be a part
of the acquiring of salvation. This does not mean we quit baptizing. But
rather, we take the truth of Baptism and the Lord's Supper and use them
So I am saying simply that, "You don't throw the baby out with the bath
water." You use truth in its proper, Biblical perspective.
Incidentally, many of the Hippies today are going all out for the Kung
Fu or Kojak look, or the unisex look. In many cases boys are looking like
girls and girls are looking like boys.
Now I would still condemn the Hippy for his improper use of the beard,
because it would not be correct according to the Word of God for him to
wear his beard the way he does.
Secondly: A beard is not prohibited in the Word of God, but rather it is
commended in the Word of God!
Thirdly: What I want to do is to encourage you to think Biblically on the
subject of the beard. You see, we claim to think according to the Word
of God, so we say we are Christians. We believe the Word of God is true
and that Jesus Christ is our personal Lord and Saviour. That's all true
and good if we are truly saved, but it is amazing how we tend to separate
things. Here is something you agree with over here, and sure, everybody
knows it. But over here is something that you have never heard of or ever
seen before. Immediately, instead of searching the Word of God and finding
out for yourself what God says, you automatically form your own thought
and opinion, apart from the Word of God.
A man may say, "I don't know whether it is right or wrong for a man to
have a beard." Well, let's change that thought because that's not really
ours to decide. God has already determined that men have beards. What a
man must decide is, not whether it's right or wrong to have a beard, but
whether it's right or wrong to shave it off. And you can't shave it off
and get rid of it. It's there and God has created it. So, that which you
need to decide is, whether it is right to shave it off, not whether or
not it is right to have a beard.
You see, the problem today is this, especially as you think about preachers
in our modern setting. Many a bearded pastor is a "TABOO" and an unusual
sort of person. However in Biblical times and in all history past, it has
not been unusual, but rather it has always been the norm. But what we have
today is, that it is simply going against many a a man's personal judgment
as a "NO, NO."
Now I don't want to get into the doctrine of Christian liberty as found
in I Corinthians chapter 8 and what it actually means to
offend someone. But let's suppose one of these ladies came up to me tonight
and said, "Pastor, your beard offends me." (That is, if I had a beard.)
Now I wouldn't want to be ugly, but if that happened and I was wearing
a beard, I would laugh in her face, because that is an improper use of
the Biblical word offend. The Hebrew word for offend is, mik-shol and it
is in the masculine voice and means stumbling block or enticement to ruin.
119:165, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing
shall offend them."
If you study it out, you will find to offend someone Biblically speaking,
is to encourage them to do the same thing you are doing without you having
knowledge of it. So, how could my beard offend a woman? She could not do
what I could do even if she had my knowledge. She cannot be offended and
tempted to have a beard like mine for God did not give her one to begin
with. You study Romans chapter 14 and I Corinthians
chapters 8 and 9 and you will find that to be true. Another
problem today is, we have people that are known as legalist and are Pharisaic.
You remember that the Pharisee wanted everyone to see things exactly the
way he saw them. Yet, Our Lord went always contrary to the customs and
the traditions of the Pharisees, and that is what upset them so much. Now
our Lord did it purposely, because had He not done it, He would have been
bowing to their legalistic, Pharisaic attitudes.
If I chose to grow a beard, one of the reasons would be, to make people
see that they must come to grips with what God says and not what man says.
The problem today is, the conscience of men and women have been improperly
instructed. They need to get into the Word of God and find out the proper
instructions concerning this subject at hand.
In this message I want you to see that the beard is a PUBLIC and a PRIVATE
testimony. If you wear a beard, or may I say, let it grow out, it is to
be properly and neatly trimmed and kept. It is a public testimony when
everyone sees it. It is a private testimony when the man who wears it looks
into the mirror and remembers what that beard signifies according to the
Word of God. It is not an ornament to enhance his beauty or looks necessarily
(though many men do look very handsome with a nice trimmed beard, while
others do not.)
When you see the Scripture, you are going to learn that there are plenty
of passages in the proclamation of the truth of God's Word about the beard.
Now I want to handle the Historical significance of the beard first, though
it is not as important as the Biblical, but I think you need to know it.
always judge history by judging and discerning the rise and the fall of
the beard! And here is an interesting bit of historical information: Egypt
was the only country in antiquity that forbad a man to let his beard grow
out. Every Biblical scholar will be quick to tell you that Egypt is a type
of the world. Egypt is a type of that which is contrary to God and His
law and His people. Egypt was a nation by law who forbad a man to have
a beard. Yet, when you look at Egyptian art and Egyptian sculpture, you
will notice that Pharaoh (especially) has a real sharp pointed goatee coming
straight down from his chin. But if you look real closely at their arts
and sculptures, you will find that there is a real thin line going up behind
his ears. Do you know what that is? That's a string, because the beard
that he has is a fake beard and it was tied on. Now the reason is this:
The Egyptians were known as "Transvestites". The men look like the women
and the women look like the men. However, when Pharaoh had his sculpture
made or a picture drawn of him, they always drew that fake beard, that
he had tied on, in order that the people could know that he was the Pharaoh
and not the queen or some other woman.
Another interesting thing is this: If you will notice in Greek mythology
and Roman mythology, whenever you see a picture of a false god, usually
he is clean shaven. Most all false gods are represented with clean shaven
faces. The counsel of Carthage, which was a counsel in the early church
about 200 A.D. met to discuss and try to work out many problems in the
church. One of the problems they discussed at the counsel of Carthage was
immodest dress. You see, they had problems with immodest dress back then
the way we do today. Now they were not discussing mini-skirts, shorts,
halters, etc. which is lewd and sinful even in our day. But let me quote
from the counsel of Carthage, for here is what they came up with: "Any
man, who appears in Church with long hair and a clean shaven face, will
be excluded from communion, for that man is immodestly dressed."
If a man came to church with long hair and a clean shaven face, he was
declared immodestly dressed. It was Tertullian, the early church father,
who wrote his treatise on the beard and said that the purpose of the beard
was TO KEEP LUST DOWN.
All the early church fathers wrote concerning the beard. In fact, the counsel
of Carthage met again in 398 A.D. and they come up with this. The clergyman
shall not let his hair grow nor remove his beard. Now these were church
When the Barbarian Hoards invaded Rome, they had long hair and clean shaven
faces. And it was at this time, as a whole in the realm of Christendom,
that the church was Romanized. All these Barbarian sects and other kinds
of people began to infiltrate the church and it literally ceased to be
a Christian church as such and became amalgamated with all the heathen.
At that time nearly all the beards were shaven off. Men had clean shaven
faces and long hair. This was the effect of Heathenism upon the church.
Sculptures and pictures of Christ shows Him with long hair but that is
They show Him with a beard because Scripture says so. They show Him with
long hair because of Barbarian influence. This continued like this with
an occasional beard or two now and then until there came what is known
as the Protestant Reformation. It is interesting to note what past history
has for us to see concerning the past three centuries in regard to renowned
men recorded in our history books.
In the 18th Century between 1773-1894 which covers a span of 121 years.
I list the life span of five noted men who wore no beards and wore short
hair. These men lived an average of 48.4 years. They are:
1. Sadi Carnot ........... 1837-1894
2. Joseph Fraunhofer ..... 1787-1826
3. Augustin Fresnel ...... 1788-1827
4. Sir Humphry Davy ...... 1778-1829
5. Thomas Young .......... 1773-1829
In the 17th Century between 1627-1727 which covers a span of 100 years
we have a list of five noted men who wore no beards, yet wore long hair.
These men lived an average of 54.8 years. They are:
l. Olaus Roemer .......... 1644-1710
2. Robert Boyle .......... 1627-1691
3. Christian Huygens .... 1629-1695
4. Gottfried W. Leibnitz .......... 1646-1716
5. Sir Isaac Newton ...... 1642-1727
In the 16th century between 1546-1642 which covers a span of 96 years we
have a list of five noted men who wore beards and short hair. These men
lived an average of 59.8 years. They are:
1. Willebrod Snell ....... 1591-1626
2. Johannes Kepler ....... 1571-1630
3. Galiled Galilei ....... 1564-1642
4. Simon Stevinus ........ 1548-1620
5. Tycho Brahe ........... 1546-160l
Also, during the French Revolution, 18 leading figures in the French Revolution
had no beards and they all lived between 1732-1838. Covering a span of
But it was during the 16th century that the great revival awakening came
known as the reformation. This was when Bloody Mary, Queen of England was
in power (1516-1558) and persecuted thousands of Christians. This was when
in 1517 Martin Luther, the converted priest, nailed 95 thesis to the castle
church door in Germany and from that came the trumpet sound, come back
to the Word of God! "The just shall live by faith."
When you look through our history books, you will begin to find that with
the reformation and the Bible in the foremost thoughts of man, that men
began to have short hair and beards. This great reformation and revival
took place during the time when men as a whole wore beards and had short
hair. Whenever humanism or the mind of man was at the top, men would have
long hair and clean shaven faces. Whenever the Bible was at the top, they
wore short hair and had beards.
Now the reformation carried right on until in France there developed what
was known as the enlightenment.
These were "Deists" who put man's reasoning above the Word of God. Consequently,
because of that, the beards went out and short hair went out also, and
back again came the clean shaven faces and the long hair. This kept up
right until the time of George Washington. In 1789, of course, the long
hair was going out as such, but if you will remember George Washington
had pig tails. I guess it looked like a modern hippy, but it was going
out. After that men had short hair and beards up until the time of the
Civil war. It is an amazing thing if you will look at all the Godly men
during the Civil war; they all had beards. Stonewall Jackson and Robert
E. Lee were Godly men. And many others we could name. But this continued
on up until World War I. After that the beards started going out again
when the influx of German liberalism began to come into this country, then
it went almost altogether, that is, men shaving off their beards.
So today, we are caught up in what is called the Kung Fu or Kojak or the
Unisex look until just recently. Now there is a resurgent of the beard
even in our country. Right now in England, if you were to pick out 20 men
off the street, while you were blindfolded, 15 of them would have beards.
So that's very briefly the historical aspect of the beard. Now, let me
make this statement. The beard is assumed in Scripture just like the doctrine
of God is assumed. There are no definite commands to grow a beard, but
there are divine regulations concerning the beard. When you come to the
Scriptures, there is no verse that will try to prove that God is. For instance,
when you open your Bible to Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God... There is
no verse that tries to tell you, that here you can prove God is by this
or by that. No, the doctrine of God is just assumed and taken as a reality
because we are told, In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.
No amount of words beyond Genesis 1:1 is really needed to prove
that God is.
It is likewise with the beard. There is no definite command in the Bible
to grow a beard. There are no divine regulations concerning man's decision
to grow or not to grow a beard. It is assumed that men would have one and
he makes the decision whether he wants to let it grow or cut it off.
An interesting thing is that, the Hebrew word for beard is Zaqan (Zaw-kawn),
and the Hebrew word for elder is Zaqen (Zaw-kane). So the Elders in the
Old Testament were called that because of their beards, for this is what
the word Elder meant.
Now I want to share with you the value of the beard. Now some of this may
seem rather humorous but I will assure you it was not humorous in history,
nor would it be humorous today.
The Semites looked upon the beard as the glory and the pride of man. The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia says, "The glory of the face is the beard."
I want to read you an article and stop from time to time and make a comment,
and read a number of Scriptures that will tie in.
Talking about the Semites, it is more scandalous, and of bad report, and
held in abhorrence, for anyone to have his beard cut off, than for them
to be publicly whipped or branded with a hot iron. Many men in that country
of the Middle East would prefer death than to receive such a punishment.
Wives kiss their husband's beards and the children kiss their father's
beards. When men come to greet one another, the men kiss one another's
beard, reciprocally, when they salute each other in the streets or come
back from a journey. They say, "The beard is the perfection of the human
face which would be more disfigured by having it cut off than by losing
They admired and envied those who had fine beards, and they would say,
and I quote, "Pray do, but see they cry, that beard." The very sight of
it would persuade anyone, that he to whom it belongs, is an honest man.
If anyone with a fine beard is guilty of an unbecoming action, they would
say, and I quote, "What a disadvantage to such a beard. How much is such
a beard to be pitied." When correcting someone who is guilty of an unbecoming
act, they would say, and I quote, "For shame on your beard." In the code
of Jewish law by Gansfried, Volume IV, page 54 it says, "One who fears
God should not use a razor on any part of his beard, even on his lip or
under the chin." If a Semite intreats anyone, or uses oaths in affirming
or denying anything, they say, and I quote, "I conjure you by my beard
or your beard." or "By the life of your beard, grant me this," or "By your
beard this is or is not so."
I would imagine that everyone of you have heard the story of the Big Bad
Wolf and The Three Little Pigs. That big bad wolf says to the pigs, "I'll
huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down." And the little pigs
say, "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin." Now that's a little children's
story, but it is a truth taken from history, that men swore by their beards.
Furthermore, the Semites say, in the way of acknowledgment, "May God preserve
your blessed beard." "May God pour out His blessings upon your beard."
And in comparison they would say, "This is more valuable than one's beard."
Now these accounts may contribute a lot to illustrate several passages
of Scripture. The dishonor done by David to his beard by letting spittle
fall on it. I Samuel 21:13, And he changed his behavior before them, and
feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate,
and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. David wanted to make it seem
to Achish that he was mad, so he acted out fits of insanity by letting
spittle fall on his beard.
During the time of King David, it was believed that no man in good health
of body and mind, would thus defile what was esteemed so honorable as the
beard. The story was like this: King Saul was after David, and David said,
"The time is going to come that I'll fall by the hand of Saul." So he escaped
into the hand of Achish who was a Philistine. I Samuel 18:6-7, "And
it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter
of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing
and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments
of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said,
Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Well,
David saw he was in hot water, so he feigned himself mad. He acted out
the nature of a mad man and slobbered all over his beard and let it run
down. He scrabbled awkwardly and irregularly by marking on the wall. You
see, in that ancient day people were booked as "crazy" who would mark on
a wall, and mess up his beard as David did. They would say, "Look at him!
that man is crazy. Get him out of here, he's insane." You see, the custom
was, not to touch or harm a crazy person, for fear you would catch the
disease. And for one to perform such an indignity on his beard was considered
the East an intolerable insult. So David slobbered on his beard to make
himself seem mad, so he could escape the hand of Achish.
However, if the beard be venerated (looked upon with reverential respect),
we see the seriousness of the neglect of Mephibosheth not trimming his
beard. II Samuel 19:24-26, "And Mephibosheth the son of Saul
come down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed
his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until
the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he was come to
Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest
not thou with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant
deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may
ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame." In
this story, David was ran off the throne by Absalom his son, and Mephibosheth
wanted to go with him. You see, the very fact that Mephibosheth had neglected
his beard, indicated that he was honest and wanted David to return.
If men kiss one another's beards when they salute in the streets, or when
one has lately come from a journey, then we may discover traces of a deeper
dissimulation in the behavior of Joab toward Amasa. II Samuel 20:9-10,
"And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took
Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. But Amasa took no heed
to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the
fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again;
and he died." It was the custom way of greeting one another. They would
kiss each other's beard. Joab came to Amasa in a seeming act of friendship
or kindness or honor and said, Art thou in health, my brother? And when
he bent over to kiss his beard, WHAM! He let him have it right under the
No doubt this was exactly what happened when Judas Iscariot betrayed out
Lord. Matthew 26:47-48, "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one
of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves,
from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him
gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold
him fast." So Judas went and kissed the beard of our Lord, which was
the common way of greeting brethren and friends in Bible times.
When anyone would wish to express the value of anything, they would say,
"It is worth more than a man's beard." So the beard was a badge of honor,
a badge of dignity, a badge of respectfulness. Proverbs 20:29, "The
glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the
You can sum up what the Bible teaches about the beard in four simple statements:
1. To have the beard forcibly cut off or mutilated is a symbol of disgrace.
2. To pull it is to inflict indignity.
3. To remove it voluntarily is a sign of mourning.
4. To stroke it is to express the importance of one's words of value or
Did you know many battles have been fought over a man's beard? For to pull
a beard in ancient time was to inflict indignity. In the year 1764 a pretender
to the Persian throne named Kerib Khon, sent an ambassador to Mer Mahena,
the Prince of Bendervick on the Persian Gulf. Kerib Khon demanded tribute
from Mahena but Mahena in turn cut off the Ambassador's beard. Kerib Khon
was so enraged at this that he went the next year with a large army and
made war upon this prince and took the city and almost the whole of his
territory to avenge the insult.
II Samuel 10:1-7, "And it came to pass after this, that the king
of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead.
Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as
his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the
hand of his servants for his father. And David's servants came into the
land of the children of Ammon. And the princes of the children of Ammon
said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father,
that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his
servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow
it? Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved off the one half
of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their
buttocks, and sent them away. When they told it unto David, he sent to
meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry
at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return. And when the children
of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and
hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand
footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand
men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the
mighty men." They started it by mutilating the beards of David's servants.
It was a disgrace, according to the Word of God, to have the beard forcibly
James Ward, who lived from 1769 to 1829 published a book entitled "The
Defense of the Beard on Scriptural Grounds." Giving 18 reasons why man
was bound to grow a beard, unless he was different as to offend the creator
and good taste.
Another book appeared in 1860 entitled, "Shaving, a breach of the Sabbath
and a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel." It 's amazing how we change,
isn't it! If you were to take a pictorial survey from the time of Christ
until the present time, of all the preachers of the Gospel, you would find
about 80 to 90 percent of them wore beards. Did you know that Charles Haden
Spurgeon not only had a beautiful beard, but he demanded that all his deacons
have beards. There is a picture of Spurgeon and all his deacons in the
office of Rev. John Weaver in Jesup, Georgia. All the deacons have beards.
Though the Bible didn't require it, Spurgeon did, concerning his deacons.
Now, What does the beard mean Scripturally? There are four meanings in
the Word of God concerning the beard. I want to show them to you:
1. The beard in Scripture means, Life unto God. Leviticus 14:9,
"But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair
off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall
shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh
in water, and he shall be clean." Notice here: He shall shave off his
beard. Now in one sense of the word, there was sanitary reasons involved.
Here the leper had to shave off his beard. But I believe there was a bigger
reason than that.
You will remember that leprosy in the Bible is a type of sin. Leprosy in
the Bible indicates the judgment of God. Numbers 12:1, "And Miriam
and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had
married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman." Verse 10, "And
the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became
leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she
was leprous." God judged her right there on the spot. Leprosy is a
type of sin and judgment. When they took a leper, the first thing they
did was to shave off his beard. This indicating that the leprous man was
under the judgment of God. In typology, he was in his sins. To have the
beard meant life, because dead men do not grow beards. Only living men
Thus to have the beard is an indication, Biblically speaking, that we are
alive unto God and we're not judged of God nor condemned of Him. We're
not dead in trespasses and sins. That is, if we're saved and born again
in Christ Jesus.
Let me digress just a moment: God gave men beards and I believe one of
the reasons is to distinguish them from women. In the Bible, we are not
commanded to wear a beard, but if we do wear a beard, we are commended
by God. If we wear a beard, our testimony for Jesus Christ must match up
to what we are as born again children of God, if we're truly saved. If
we wear a beard, it must be neatly kept and trimmed or God will judge us
The beard in Scripture teaches four simple things:
1. To pull it is to inflict indignity.
2. To have it forcibly cut off or mutilated is a symbol of disgrace.
3. To remove it voluntarily is a sign of mourning.
4. To stroke it is to express the importance of one's words or value or
So what does the beard mean Scripturally?
1. It signifies life unto God.
2. It signifies submission unto God.
3. It signifies separation unto God.
4. It signifies the blessings of God.
And so, the beard first and foremost means "life unto God." If we are truly
saved we are not under condemnation, or judgment or the wrath of God Almighty
because we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. You see, how,
by symbolical means, we get the Gospel out even through the beard!
2. Not only does the beard signify life unto God, but the beard signifies
submission to God. A shaven face signifies submission to man. And let me
show it to you. Genesis 41:14, "Then Pharaoh sent and called
Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved
himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh." Let me
quote from the Bible Encyclopedia. "To be deprived of a beard was, and
still is, in some places of the East, the badge of overbearance and a mark
of public disgrace that degraded a person from the ranks of men, to those
of slaves and women." So to be clean shaven was a mark of being a slave
or a servant of man.
When Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt and was in the house of Potiphar
as his slave, Potiphar's wife accused him wrongfully and he was thrown
into prison. There he prophesied how the baker was hanged and the cup bearer
(or butler) was set free, and it came to pass.
Then finally that Butler remembered Joseph before Pharaoh and soon Joseph
came before Pharaoh to interpret Pharaoh's dream. Now why did Joseph shave
himself? Because he was going in unto the man whom he was to be in submission
to for the rest of his life. You remember Joseph said repeatedly, There
is none higher than me, save Pharaoh. Genesis 41:40, "Thou shalt
be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled:
only in the throne will I be greater than thou." He was the second
in command, but he was to be in submission to Pharaoh, and so he shaved
off his beard. Indicating now that he was in submission to Pharaoh.
But Biblically speaking, the beard indicates that men are in submission
to God ... and I'm not saying that Joseph was not in the will of God when
he shaved off his beard, because God put him there. But I am saying that
the shaving of the beard in the context of the Bible, indicates the submission
to man, whereas the beard indicates submission to God. Neither do I imply
that just because a man has a beard he is in submission to God. Many thousands
of bearded men are not submitted to God because millions all over the world
are lost in sin and without Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
3. A well kept groomed beard means separation unto God. Not only life unto
God and submission unto God, but separation unto God.
19:27, "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt
thou mar the corners of thy beard." Leviticus 21:5-6, "They
shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the
corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh. They shall
be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the
offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do
offer: therefore they shall be holy." Now what did God mean when he
said, "Not to mar the corners of the beard?" Well, their beard indicated
that they were separated unto God.
In ancient times every nationality of men had beards in one form or another,
but only the Hebrew had a full beard. (Of course, remember that the Egyptians
had a law forbidding beards, and the drawings and sculptures of the Pharaoh's
showed false beards.) Those heathen that worshipped Bakus, Baal, Oritall:
They had what is known as simply a mustache and goatee. Thus the corners
In Bible Times, you could look at a man's beard and tell who he was. If
he had just the mustache and goatee, he was a worshipper of Bakus, or Baal,
or Oritall. But if he had a full beard, it meant he was a worshipper of
Of course, this does not stand true today. But this is what God is saying
in the Bible: Namely, that their beard was a mark of their separation unto
God and they were not to mar that mark. In Jeremiah chapter 9
we see that the beard is a sign of life, submission and separation unto
God. But the symbol is nothing unless it is backed up by the life. When
these Hebrews who had full beards would say, "We're submitted unto God
and separated unto Him," and yet they lived lives contrary to that sign,
God judged them! God judged them just like they were an idolator because
that was the way they were acting. Jeremiah 9:25, "Behold, the
days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised
with the uncircumcised." Now that simply means, "Those who follow after
the ways and customs of the heathen, who cut off their beards and let their
hair grow long." That's why the beard is not only a public testimony, but
a private testimony.
Whenever a man sees himself in the mirror with his full beard, he is to
remember (if he is saved) that he is alive unto God and is to be submitted
unto God and separated unto God. If one's actions denies that symbol, God
will judge him. In other words, "Live according to what is on your face!"
Because that is saying to the world and to yourself, "I am in submission
unto God, and separated unto Him."
4. In Psalms 133 we see, the beard not only signifies life unto
God, submission unto God, and separation unto God, but it also signifies
the blessing of God. Psalms 133, "Behold, how good and how pleasant
it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious
ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard:
that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and
as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord
commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
So the beard signifies the blessing of God upon the child of God. However;
the beard was plucked out, shaved off, or left unattended during a time
of great mourning or great calamity. But to have a fine, healthy, anointed
beard in Bible times was a symbol of the blessings of God. II Samuel
19:24, "And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king,
and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his
clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in
peace." Here Mephibosheth was in mourning for David.
Job when he heard how all his children were killed, and all his cattle
and everything else was gone. Do you know what he did? Job 1:20,
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell
down upon the ground, and worshipped." He sat in the ash heap and went
In Ezra's day the people were sinning against God. Ezra 9:3, "And
when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off
the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied." Ezra went
into mourning for it was a time of calamity.
Because the beard in the Bible is so highly prized, and is counted as such
an honourable thing, God would emphasize how He was going to judge His
people. He always emphasized the greatness of that judgment by telling
them He was going to cut off their beards.
7:20, "In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is
hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head,
and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard."
We are fixing to see a great Gospel truth right here! What God is saying
is, "Alright, you northern tribes, you are sinning against me, and I am
going to hire me a razor, namely the King of Assyria, and I am going to
shave off your head (all of it) ... And the hair of your feet and it's
going to be so severe, I'm going to get your beard also."
God is giving them a sign of His judgment by shaving off their beards.
15:2, "He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to
weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall
be baldness, and every beard cut off." You see, God's judgment was
so severe here that every beard would be cut off.
In Jeremiah the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed, the Temple had been
destroyed, the people were carried away into captivity into Babylon. Jeremiah
41:5, "That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from
Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes
rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand,
to bring them to the house of the Lord."
Now why did they shave off their beards? Because Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed
everything and there was a great calamity and judgment. Jeremiah 48:37,
"For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the
hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth." God says this
judgment shall be so severe that their head and face shall all be bald.
5:1, "And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a
barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard:
then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair." Now remember
that Ezekiel is prophesying and showing them how severe that plague from
God is going to be. This was another judgment.
God says to Ezekiel to cut off his beard, as a symbol of what he was going
to do to those people who are left in Jerusalem. He is going to cut them
off! Now when God would set forth and indicate the severity of His judgment
on His people because of their sin. He did so by doing it under the analogy
of cutting off their beards. That which was so prized! That which was so
That which was esteemed most highly! For to have the beard cut or shaved
off forcibly was a sure sign that they were under the judgment of God Almighty!
To have the beard plucked out meant that the wrath of God was coming upon
the people or the individual.
50:6, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that
plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting."
chapters 50 through 53 speaks of the suffering servant of
Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was beaten with the cat of nine tails, and He gave His back to it,
but also He gave His cheeks to those who took His beard and spitefully
and wickedly plucked it out!
So I hasten to say that that was not done just to cause Him more pain,
but that was saying, according to custom symbolically, "You are cursed
of God and you are under the wrath of God and you are being judged by Him."
And beloved, was not Jesus under the judgment of God's wrath for us? Was
He not being judged for us? I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also hath
once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us
to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."
Yes, he was! II Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be
sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of
God in him." You see, those who crucified Jesus were doing it wickedly,
but the fact was, they were fulfilling prophecy. Isaiah 53:1-12,
"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of
a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected
of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were
our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he
hath borne our grief's, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him
the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he
opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as
a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was
taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression
of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and
with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was
any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath
put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he
shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the
Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul,
and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify
many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a
portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with
the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for
So, if anyone comes up to you and tells you that it is a sin to have a
beard, they are trying to be more holy than the Son of God, and that's'
blasphemy! No man can even begin to match the holiness of Jesus Christ,
for we are all sinful by nature. Psalms 51:5, "Behold, I was
shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Isaiah
64:6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses
are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like
the wind, have taken us away."
So Jesus gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked
off the hair. The sinless Son of God, suffering the wrath and judgment
of God for sinners. He took the shame for us and it is even evident through
the symbolical aspect of the plucking out of the beard.
Now, I want to conclude with the purpose of the beard: First of all, let
me say this. No human author of the Bible had to prove that God exists.
14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Many
problems are solved with the first verse of the Bible. Genesis 1:1,
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." So the
Bible is not a text book that attempts to prove that God exists. It is
accepted naturally as we read about creation and the one who created. Its
just accepted, with the exception of the fool who believes there is no
As we naturally accept the authenticity of God and the Bible as the Holy
Word of God, we must naturally accept the authenticity of the beard and
its divine symbol. In the beginning God created... and in that beginning
He created man with a beard, and both these truths are assumed through
our natural intellects and beliefs. The person who accepts the Bible as
"God breathed" will readily acknowledge the existence of God.
Now my point is this: Just as it is foolish for a man to deny the existence
of God, likewise, it is foolish for a man to deny the beard and its purpose
as a God given privilege to wear it, if he so chooses. It's just as ridiculous
to say that a man has no beard, or he shouldn't wear it if he did have,
even though God created it for him, as to say, "There is no God, and people
should not believe there is a God even if there is a true and living God."
That would be terribly foolish, wouldn't it? So the beard is here to stay!
Have you often wondered why God causes a beard to grow upon a man and not
a woman? Do you think for one moment that God caused this because of man's
sin? Do you think the beard on a man is there for the purpose of punishing
him? Deuteronomy 22:5, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth
unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that
do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God."
Beards, historically and Biblically have been regarded as a sacred ornament
given by God to distinguish men from women. It is a fact that, if you go
into an orthodox Synagogue, when the men and women go in, they usually
go in separate. The men will go in first and they will be praying as they
go in: "I thank thee O God, that thou didst not make me a woman." Then
the women come in behind the men and they pray: "I thank thee O God, that
thou didst make me according to thy will."
Now the passage in Deuteronomy 22:5 has been perverted a great deal.
This passage was not given to prevent licentiousness or to oppose idolatrous
practices, though that could be a part of it. But the main thing was, to
maintain the sanctity of that distinction of the sexes, which was established
by God's act of the creation of man and woman, and in relation to which
Israel was not to sin. Every violation or the wiping out of this distinction
between man and woman was unnatural, and therefore, an abomination in the
sight of God whereby judgment follows. Now the word "Abomination" means,
"A stench in the nostrils of God." And the Hebrew word for clothing here,
means more than just man's clothing. It would even include men's ornament,
which quickly shows you that it is unBiblical for women to be in the armed
forces, though God may let it be through His permissive will. And likewise,
man is not to put on any domestic clothes of women or women's utensils
or anything else pertaining to women's dress. That is why I don't carry
a purse on my shoulder. That is why I don't have a ring in my ear or a
ribbon in my hair. So you see, this verse is directed against any and all
who would obliterate the distinction between the sexes. That is why it
is a sin for man to have long hair. It destroys the distinction between
the sexes. That is why unisex is wrong. I Corinthians 11:14-15,
"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair,
it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to
her: for her hair is given her for a covering."
Now in Heathen and pagan worship, they worship a number of gods and goddesses.
One of them happens to be Venus. Venus happens to be the goddess of love
and pleasure. Sacrifices were offered to Venus by men dressed as a woman,
and by women dressed as men. This is known as transvestitism.
They were Transvestites. A beardless man was considered to be effeminate,
but the amazing thing is this. Although Venus was a woman goddess, a goddess
of love and pleasure, if you were to look at a statue of Venus, you would
notice very quickly by her bust that was a woman indeed. But they also
made her with a beard. There she stands. A distinguishing characteristic
of a man with a beard. Now Deuteronomy 22:5 is a Divinely instituted
distinction between the sexes. This Divinely instituted distinction is
to be sacredly observed. All who obliterates it from their life is an abomination
to God. And most all who do obliterate it, tend to licentiousness and immorality
So here is the purpose of the beard: God gave the man a beard in order
to distinguish him from the woman. A man who has a short hair cut and a
beard can never be mistaken for a woman, and that is God's purpose.
Have you ever noticed in the New Testament, over and over where the Bible
says, Romans 16:16, "Salute one another with an holy kiss."
Corinthians 16:20, "All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another
with an holy kiss." II Corinthians 13:12, "Greet one another
with an holy kiss." I Thessalonians 5:26, "Greet all the
brethren with an holy kiss." I Peter 5:14, "Greet ye one
another with a kiss of charity." How do you think they did that? It
was the kiss of the Old Testament. Men kissing each other's beards.
If someone says, "Well, what you have shown me is in the Old Testament."
Then they are saying to me in essence that the Old Testament is not the
Word of God, or that the Old Testament is not applicable today. When they
say that, they are going to have to throw away most of the New Testament
because 75% of the New Testament is the Old Testament. Now I am not saying
we live under law, for we live under grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, "For
by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast."
And so, God created the beard for man to wear, and as long as he keeps
it trimmed and groomed and looking neat, he won't be judged by God in that
respect. However; God's judgment will not keep him from growing a beard
anytime he desires for God created the beard for man to do as he wants
to with it. For the law of creation is a stabilizing law that will never
change. God's creative act is an eternal act. That is why man can only
be saved by Grace through faith. It is not of himself, for if it be of
himself, he would boast to high heaven like the Pharisees of old claiming
he did something to save himself. Ephesians 2:10, "For we are
his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath
before ordained that we should walk in them." The two little words,
"we are" introduces us to something very personal in this verse.
If we are, then what are we? It doesn't say, Christ is or Paul was or Matthew
wrote or John said, or Moses did but we are. If we are then what are we?
You see, what we are by nature we are as a result of our birth, home, education,
abilities, habits, things we have seen, heard, read, and even thought.
This very moment you are by nature what your life has made you naturally
speaking. Your total environment and habitat makes you the product you
are. Our basic habitat is that we were all born in the human race which
makes us sinners by nature. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God." Psalms 51:5, "Behold,
I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
3:10, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
64:6-7, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses
are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like
the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name,
that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face
from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities." Man by nature
will not call on God to save him, for his nature does not call for it.
Therefore, unless the Holy Spirit comes and convicts him of his lost condition
and gives him saving faith to believe, he will get religious and try to
do everything he can by good works to save himself apart from the new birth.
John 3:1-18, "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus,
a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him,
Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do
these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered
and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How
can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his
mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto
thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and
that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto
thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither
it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered
and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto
him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we
have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things,
and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven,
even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his
Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him
might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the
name of the only begotten Son of God." Ephesians 2:10, "For
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which
God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." So we can only
be His by creation of a new birth. Creation is always a supernatural word.
Whenever anything is created, God has to do it. So when a person is truly
saved, they may say, "I am a better person and I have a new life." It is
only by creation, and not by works lest any man should boast. The word
His here does not mean Jesus' life, but it means God begins to work out
in our created new life God has already bestowed in us. If God created
in you a new life in Christ Jesus, He also has carved out a plan for your
life and is now working out that plan. It is according to His grace alone.
"We are His workmanship" because He created in us the new birth,
just as He created the beard for man. It is very dangerous for a person
to be his own workmanship. No matter how many good deeds he may do, it
won't save him. You can polish the outside of a rotten egg until you see
your face, but it will still be a rotten egg inside. God creates in us
the new birth and we become His workmanship. Good works after salvation
is evident of God's workmanship, not before.
There is a vast difference between man's workmanship and God's workmanship.
Let me illustrate:
There were two men who went through Palestine 1700 years apart. One was
named Napoleon and the other was named Jesus Christ. Napoleon went to Palestine
attempting to move on into Africa and set up his throne of rule in Jerusalem
and make it his oriental kingdom. He flung thousands of Frenchmen into
the battle and saw them fall in their own blood. Finally, he was compelled
to turn back with his battered, exhausted, army in defeat. Napoleon passed
along the Syrian coast and came to a hospital filled with dying soldiers
with fever and all kinds of diseases. With his arms behind his back and
his mouth closed so no disease germs could enter his body, he never once
touched their diseased and dying bodies. As he walked through he gave them
a look and then left them to die. Napoleon's army wended its way back into
Egypt exhausted, defeated, and sick. Napoleon left them and went back to
France. What a selfish, ungrateful and unloving life. Another man walked
through Palestine 1700 years before Napoleon by the name of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God.
When He saw a leper he touched him and healed him. When He saw a man bound
with an infirmity, He spoke a word and he straightened up. When He came
to a woman who was about to be stoned to death, He forgave her of her sins
and sent her away rejoicing. When He saw a man blind, He opened his eyes.
When He came to a funeral, He raised the dead. When He found people hungry,
He fed them. Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing
all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
He died on a cruel cross, not in defeat, but in victory, to save wretched
sinners like you and me. He took upon Himself our inherited sin, yet He
knew no sin, and died for us. II Corinthians 5:2l, "For he hath
made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness
of God in him."
Jesus than ascended up to His heavenly Father. Hebrews 13:5 b, "For
he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." His presence
is keenly felt and experienced in us today that have been genuinely saved
because we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
As the old song goes: "I am thine O Lord, I have heard thy voice and it
told thy love to me. But I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer
drawn to thee." and "Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste
of glory Divine. Heir of salvation purchased of God, born of His Spirit,
washed in His blood." And this all came about by God's creative design.
A created salvation, as well as the created beard wrought by the sovereign
Holy God of all creation. I believe there is going to be an increase of
beards today, especially among preachers, as they come to see the truth
and significance of the beard. However; no preacher or man otherwise sins
if they do or do not wear a beard. For so long, humanism and man's reasoning
has held sway, but as men are beginning to study God's Word and get serious
about what the Bible says, and not what man says. They want their thoughts
to be in conformity to God's Word as they search the Scriptures. John
5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me."
I trust in this study you have discovered that the beard is the distinguishing
characteristic of the man, and it is the symbol of Life unto God, Submission
unto God, Separation unto God, and the Blessing of God. It is an open assertion
of our sanctification unto the Lord and a public testimony, as well as
a private testimony of God's grace in our hearts.
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