Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
January 5, 2013
Last Updated :
July 1, 2014
John The Baptist Was Likewise A Long-Haired Bearded Nazarite, John Preaches Baptism Of Repentance In Jordan River Valley, John Is Beheaded By Herod Agrippa Due To His Wife Herodias, No One Knows What Jesus Looked Like, Jesus Was Probably Not A Nazarite, Jesus Converted Water Into Wine And Drank Wine, Marriage In Cana Of Galilee, Gluttonous Man And Winebibber, Jesus' Final Passover Meal, Jesus Refused Wine And Myrrh On The Cross At Calvary, Theory Regarding Why Jesus Refused To Drink Wine And Myrrh, Jesus' Crucifixion Was Sweetsmelling Or Well-Pleasing Sacrifice To The Father, I Am Well Pleased, Nazarites Were Not Permitted To Touch Or Be Near The Dead, Jesus Raises Lazarus From The Dead, Jairus' Young Daughter Is Raised From The Dead, Some Modern Artistic Expressions Of Jesus' Physical Appearance Are Based On Shroud Of Turin, King David's Son Absalom Only Cut His Hair Once Per Year, No Scriptural Evidence Found To Indicate It Was Mandatory For Israelite Men To Have Short Hair, Many Old Testament Men Sported Beards, Long Hair And Beards May Have Been Norm In Ancient Israel, Having A Beard Was A Sign Of Masculinity, Neither OT Or Jesus Condemn Long Hair, Calling Of Jeremiah
Continuing our discussion from part one, and moving on to the New Testament, there is likewise evidence to suggest that John the Baptist was also a Nazarite; meaning that he too had long hair and a beard. Just as had occurred with Samson, an Angel -- this time it was the Archangel Gabriel -- was sent to announce the conception and birth of John. Just as had occurred with Samson, Gabriel also forbade John to partake of strong drink. We also know that, as was the custom of the Nazarites, John separated himself from the people, and dwelt in the wilderness of the Jordan River valley. Consider the following verses which confirm these various points:
"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb."
Luke 1:15, KJV
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
Matthew 3:1-6, KJV
"And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
Matthew 11:7-10, KJV
Finally, just as Samson was taken prisoner by his Philistine enemies and eventually died in their midst, so too, John was taken prisoner at the insistence of Herodias -- King Herod's wife -- because John accused Herod of committing adultery, because he had married her, even though her previous husband -- Philip, who was Herod's brother -- was still alive. John was eventually beheaded in prison, due to Herod's vanity, as we see by the following verses:
"For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus."
Matthew 14:3-12, KJV
Once again, if we accept Paul's words as law, as well as the view that is likewise held by some Christian legalists, then we would have to conclude that even though John was chosen by God to be a great Prophet and predecessor to Jesus Christ, nevertheless, it was shameful for him to have long hair and a beard. Do you agree with this conclusion? I don't.
At this point in our discussion, perhaps you are wondering if Jesus was a Nazarite as well. We have all seen artistic expressions where Jesus is shown with medium-long or even shoulder-length hair, and sporting a beard. Of course, none of us honestly know with any degree of certainty precisely what Jesus looked like. However, be that as it may, there is Scriptural evidence to indicate that while He was a Nazarene -- because He grew up in the northern town of Nazareth -- He may not necessarily have been a Nazarite, and in fact, more than likely wasn't one.
As we discussed earlier, Nazarites were expressly prohibited from partaking of wine and other strong drink, or eating any products of the vine. In contrast, in the Gospels, not only do we learn that the Lord changed water into wine, but there likewise exists certain Scriptural evidence which suggests that He clearly drank wine as well. To begin with, consider the following verses which discuss the marriage in Cana of Galilee:
"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."
John 2:1-11, KJV
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum."
John 4:46, KJV
Considering the prohibitions that were placed on Nazarites regarding wine and strong drink, it does not seem likely that a Nazarite would be willing to convert water into wine for a marriage feast. While in the previous verses, nowhere are we clearly told that Jesus actually drank any of the wine, it would seem strange that He turned water into wine, and then did not partake of any of it Himself. Any doubts regarding whether or not the Lord actually drank wine are cleared up in the following verses, where Jesus Himself informs us that unlike John the Baptist who refrained from drinking wine because he was a Nazarite, He did in fact partake of the same:
"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
Matthew 11:18-19, KJV
"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!"
Luke 7:33-34, KJV
In all of the verses where the Lord's final Passover meal is discussed, there is not a single verse where we are clearly told that Jesus drank of the wine Himself. On the surface, it seems as if He blessed it, and then He simply passed the cup to the Apostles. However, if the Lord ate the Passover bread -- and it is obvious from these verses that He did -- then it must have made Him thirsty. Furthermore, please notice that in the Gospel of Mark He says "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine". This phrase suggests that He is going to discontinue what He has been doing up until that point:
"Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
Matthew 26:20-29, KJV
"And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Mark 14:17-25, KJV
"And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:14-20, KJV
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:23-25, KJV
There is only one place in the Scriptures that I am aware of where the Lord actually refused to drink wine. That is in the following verse where we find Him being offered a mixture of wine and myrrh as He is being crucified on a Roman Cross for the sins of the world:
"And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not."
Mark 15:23, KJV
Jesus' refusal to take the wine would be in accordance with what He had said during the final Passover meal regarding the fact that He would drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until the day that He would drink it again in the Kingdom of God. One view holds that the reason why the Lord refused to drink the wine and myrrh that was offered to Him, was so that His senses would not be dulled -- which is what the wine and myrrh did -- so that He could feel the full excruciating pain of His suffering, and thus offer to His Father a more Perfect Sacrifice for sin. This may possibly be another one of those strange Roman Catholic doctrines. Do I need to remind you of Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"? In examining the Bible, I found only one verse which may possibly support this idea. Found in Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, it states thusly:
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."
Ephesians 5:2, KJV
According to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, in the previous verse, the phrase "sweetsmelling savour" is derived from the Greek words "euodia osme". The word "euodia" refers to a a sweet smell or fragrance; while the word "osme" refers to a smell or odor. In this verse, this phrase is being used in a metaphorical sense to signify that Christ's Sacrifice was well-pleasing to His Father. In fact, you may recall that in the Gospels, we find the following verses where the Father expresses His satisfaction with the Son:
"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 3:17, KJV
"Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles."
Matthew 12:18, KJV
"While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
Matthew 17:5, KJV
"And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Mark 1:11, KJV
"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."
Luke 3:22, KJV
"For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
2 Peter 1:17, KJV
There is another good reason why Jesus was probably not a Nazarite. Returning to the Old Testament Book of Numbers where the commandments regarding the Nazarites are listed, we find the following verses:
"All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD."
Numbers 6:6-8, KJV
As you no doubt know, the Gospels contain a number of stories where Jesus not only approached and touched the dead, but in fact raised the dead. For example, these include the story of Lazarus -- who was the brother of Martha and Mary -- which is found in the Gospel of John chapter eleven, and the story of Jairus' young daughter that is found in all three Synoptic Gospels; that is, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Being as Luke was a physician, I have included his account of the miracle below. I have left out the story regarding the woman who was healed of an issue of blood, in order to maintain the continuity of the story regarding Jairus; daughter:
"And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him. And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying . . . While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done."
Luke 8:40-42a, 49-56, KJV
Taking into consideration the fact that Jesus did touch dead bodies, it does not seem very likely that He was a Nazarite; at least not according to the standards of the Old Testament. As I noted earlier, we honestly do not know what Jesus looked like in a physical sense. We can only surmise a bit, based on the fact that He was Jewish after the flesh. If we accept the Shroud of Turin as being admissible evidence -- some people obviously do not -- then it does strongly suggest that Jesus did have both long hair, as well as a beard. As far as I am aware, some modern artistic interpretations of the Lord's appearance are based on the faint image that is found on the Shroud of Turin.
As I searched through the Scriptures in my attempt to find additional information which would help to clarify the issue one way or the other, I did find the following verses. These verses discuss how King David's son, Absalom, cut his hair once a year "because the hair was heavy on him". Please keep in mind, however, that these verses simply describe what one man did due to his personal preference. These verses do not represent any kind of law or commandment, which is what we would expect the Apostle Paul to use, if he were to try to validate his position regarding it being shameful for men to have long hair:
"But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight."
2 Samuel 14:25-26, KJV
It is difficult to say exactly how much hair this was, being as there were gold, silver and copper shekels, and each one weighed a different amount. Furthermore, being as this event occurred about three thousand years ago, neither do we know with any degree of precision what the "king's weight" was. Regardless of what the actual weight may have been, just the fact that Absalom only cut his hair "at every year's end", and that it is described as being "heavy on him" would seem to indicate that it would grow quite long within a year's time. Exactly how much, we honestly do not know. After all, every man is different.
The more I examined the Scriptures, the more small bits of evidence I discovered which seem to indicate that the Apostle Paul's personal preference for clean-cut men does not stand up to the Scriptural test. In other words, I was not able to find anything to suggest that it was mandatory for Israelite men to sport short hair. For example, in the Book of Leviticus we find evidence that the Levitical priests -- that is, the sons of Aaron -- had beards, and were not suppose to be bald. In fact, from reading the Book of Psalms, we learn that Aaron also had a beard. Consider the following two verses:
"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."
Leviticus 21:5, KJV
"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;"
Psalms 133:2, KJV
As I continued my Scriptural quest, I also discovered that King Saul's son, Mephibosheth, also sported a beard. At the very least, King David likewise had a beard, as did some of his men. I also learned that Amasa -- who was one of King David's nephews, and also the general of Absalom's army after Absalom had betrayed his father David -- also sported a beard. The author of the Book of Ezra, also had a beard. Finally, the Prophet Ezekiel also sported a beard as well. Consider the following verses which confirm these points:
"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."
2 Samuel 19:24, KJV
"And he [King David] changed his behaviour 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."
1 Samuel 21:13, KJV
"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."
2 Samuel 10:4-5, KJV
"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."
2 Samuel 20:9, KJV
"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 9:3, KJV
"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."
Ezekiel 5:1, KJV
In the Book of Jeremiah, we also find this verse which seems to be describing certain men who cut off their beards because they were under some kind of an oath when they went to the Temple in Jerusalem. This occurred just prior to the Temple and Jerusalem being destroyed by the armies of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar:
"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."
Jeremiah 41:5, KJV
While none of the previous verses provide us with any clear information regarding the length of their hair, if we take the verses regarding Absalom as an example of what may have been the common practice in those days, then it would seem to suggest that at least some of these men may also have had long hair. However, I cannot conclusively prove this point.
I think it is also important to point out that the fact that the Nazarites were required to not cut their hair or beard, does not necessarily mean that other men could not have long hair and beards as well. As we have already seen, some men did in fact have beards, so who is to say that they did not have long hair too? It is not like these ancient Israelites could go to their local barber shop once a month. They were busy surviving, waging wars, etc., and I am not convinced that the length of their hair was exactly a priority. In short, my impression is that long hair and beards may have been the norm, just as it was for thousands of years after that.
Also worth noting is the fact that the previous verses seem to suggest that sporting a beard in ancient Israel was viewed as a sign of masculinity. When the Ammonites cut off half the beard of King David's men, the men were ashamed. Obviously, it is understandable why they would be ashamed. However, what I find interesting is how David chose to react to the matter. Instead of telling his men to simply cut off the other half of their beard so that they could return to Jerusalem without the need to feel ashamed, the king instead advised them to remain in Jericho until their beards had fully grown back again.
Taking into consideration all of the information which I have now shared with you in this series, I hope you can understand why I seriously question Paul's statement regarding it being shameful for men to have long hair. To reiterate, other than that one comment by Paul, I have not found any other verses in God's Word -- which in the King James Version of the Bible means 31,102 verses -- which in any way state or even suggest that it is shameful or sinful for a man to sport long hair. I have found no law or commandment of any kind which mandates that it be so. Jesus Himself made no mention whatsoever that it is shameful for a man to have long hair.
If this were really the case, then in my opinion, it makes no sense whatsoever that God -- through Moses -- would establish laws regarding the Nazarites, in which they are specifically ordered to not cut their hair or their beard, as was clearly the case with the strongman Samson, with John the Baptist, and we do not know with how many others. While I obviously cannot prove this point, I suspect that some of the Prophets of the Old Testament period were also Nazarites; because just like Samson and John the Baptist, they were likewise called out and separated for a special purpose unto the Lord. For example, as I have mentioned before, consider the calling of the Prophet Jeremiah:
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5, KJV
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
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