from natural causes was uncommon ( 2 Kings 2:23 ; Isaiah 3:24 ). It was included apparently under "scab" and "scurf," which disqualified for the priesthood ( Leviticus 21:20 ). The Egyptians were rarely subject to it. This probably arose from their custom of constantly shaving the head, only allowing the hair to grow as a sign of mourning. With the Jews artificial baldness was a sign of mourning ( Isaiah 22:12 ; Jeremiah 7:29 ; 16:6 ); it also marked the conclusion of a Nazarite's vow ( Acts 18:18 ; 21:24 ; Numbers 6:9 ). It is often alluded to ( Micah 1:16 ; Amos 8:10 ; Jeremiah 47:5 ). The Jews were forbidden to follow the customs of surrounding nations in making themselves bald ( Deuteronomy 14:1 ).
Natural baldness seems to have been uncommon, since it exposed people to public derision. ( Leviticus 13:29 ; 2 Kings 2:23 ; Isaiah 3:24 ; 15:2 ; Jeremiah 47:5 ; Ezekiel 7:18 ) Artificial baldness marked the conclusion of a Nazarites vow, ( Numbers 6:9 ; Acts 18:18 ) and was a sign of mourning.
The reference in the Bible to baldness is not to the natural loss of hair, but to baldness produced by shaving the head. This was practiced as a mark of mourning for the dead (Leviticus 21:5; Isaiah 15:2; 22:12); as the result of any disaster (Amos 8:10; Micah 1:16). The custom arose from the fact that the hair was regarded as a special ornament. It was the custom of the people of the land, and the Israelites were strictly forbidden to practice it (Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1). These are striking passages with reference to the knowledge the Israelites had concerning the future life. This is saying to them what Paul said to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13). To call one a "bald head" was an epithet of contempt, and was sometimes applied to persons who were not naturally bald. It was the epithet applied by certain infidel young men to Elisha (2 Kings 2:23,24). In a figurative sense it is used to express the barrenness of the country (Jeremiah 47:5).
Jacob W. Kapp
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