To cut hair from the head.
Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only POLL their heads. ( Ezekiel 44:20 )
The word (on the derivation of which see Skeat, Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 360) has been eliminated as a verb in the American Standard Revised Version. In the King James Version and English Revised Version it represents the Hebrew verbs kacam, literally "to shear" (Ezekiel 44:20), gazaz, literally, "to pull out," "to uproot," thence "to shear the sheep," figuratively, "to destroy an enemy" (Micah 1:16), galach, in Piel, literally, "to make bald or roundheaded" (2 Samuel 14:26) and qatsats, "to cut off" (Jeremiah 9:26; 25:23; 49:32). The Hebrew noun is gulgoleth. As will be seen from the above enumeration, the Hebrew verb differ considerably in etymology, while Revised Version has not tried to distinguish. In Micah 1:16 we have a reference to the oriental custom of cutting or tearing one's hair as a sign of mourning for one's relatives. "Make thee bald, and cut off thy hair (King James Version and English Revised Version "poll thee," Hebrew gazaz) for the children of thy delight: enlarge thy baldness as the eagle (margin "vulture"); for they are gone into captivity from thee." The priests, the sons of Zadok, are instructed to abstain from outward resemblance to heathen patterns of priesthood: "Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only cut off the hair (the King James Version and the English Revised Version, "poll," Hebrew kacam) of their heads" (Ezekiel 44:20). The Piel form of galach is employed in the description of the annual hair-cutting of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:26). Thrice we find the verb "to poll" as the translation of Hebrew qatsats, where the American Standard Revised Version materially improves the translation by adopting the marginal version of the King James Version (Jeremiah 9:26; 25:23; 49:32).
The noun (gulgoleth, lit. "head") is translated "poll" in the phrase "by the poll," "by their polls" (Numbers 1:2,18,20,22; 3:47; 1 Chronicles 23:3,14). The expression has its origin in the numbering of persons by their heads, in the same way in which we speak of head-tax, etc.
H. L. E. Luering
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