Where does the Bible say facial hair is wrong?


I am a Messianic Jew and I go to Church not a Messianic Congregation yet. Anyway, I have heard that having facial hair is wrong. They say they have biblical proof but they can't remember where it is and so I am at a loss as to what to do. I have no conviction about it and the Ruach Ha'Kodesh (Holy Spirit) never convicted me of it. So please help me find the answer so that I can tell If it is a man-made doctrine or not. May YHWH our Father and Yeshua (Jesus) our Lord bless you. Shalom


Messianic Judaism is a relatively recent revival of an old problem of attempting to blending Old Testament and New Testament beliefs. Such blending runs strictly contrary to basic teachings by the apostles. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4). See the article "Why We Don't Follow the Old Testament" for more details.

I have talked to a few Messianic Jews and I have found their knowledge of the Old Testament to be very sparse. They know far more about Jewish writings and modern Jewish thinking than they do about Moses' law. Your question doesn't dispel this impression at all.

Israelite men did wear facial hair. We can see this from the laws given for examining skin diseases: "If a man or woman has a sore on the head or the beard, then the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if it appears deeper than the skin, and there is in it thin yellow hair, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a scaly leprosy of the head or beard" (Leviticus 13:29-30). Also when a person is cleansed of leprosy we read, "But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows-all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean" (Leviticus 14:9).

King David had a beard. When he pretended to be insane we read, "So he changed his behavior before them, feigned madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard" (I Samuel 21:13). So did Aaron, the High Priest, "It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments" (Psalm 133:2). The prophet Ezekiel also had a beard, "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair" (Ezekiel 5:1).

What is probably being confused is the law forbidding men from shaving half their face as an expression of grief. "You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead" (Deuteronomy 14:1). Priests were specifically told "They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh" (Leviticus 21:5).

There were also laws against certain hairstyles, "You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard" (Leviticus 19:27). In other words, the topknot style of ancient China would have been forbidden to the Israelites. The exact nature of the disfiguring the edges of the beard is debated by scholars. Some believe it forbade shaping the beard into a round or square shape that was popular in some ancient countries. More likely it was forbidding shaving off part of the beard (along with the sides of the head) in a display of grief. We do know that it was not a law forbidding all cutting of the beard because the priests were told, "They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long; but they shall keep their hair well trimmed" (Ezekiel 44:20).

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