Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?
Tomorrow's World Magazine
June 1971
Volume: Vol III, No. 06
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Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?
Harry Eisenberg  

In a recent number of TOMORROW'S WORLD (March, 1971 issue), we ran an article absolutely proving that short hair was the accepted mode in Roman-occupied Judaea. That article profusely illustrated with pictures of the busts of Roman Emperors is reprinted here.

   Short hair was the dominant, accepted mode for men in the time of Christ. Pick up any good, illustrated history book on the period and you will see the evidence before your eyes. Two good books in this area are A History of the Holy Land, Michael Avi-Yonah, editor, and Daniel to Paul, Gaalyahu Cornfeld, editor. Now notice the busts and statues of various Greeks and Romans of the time of Christ. The men are wearing their hair short on every one of them in a manner similar to that generally accepted today.
   For example, on pages 126-7 of Avi-Yonah's work are found busts of Pompey, Augustus, and one believed to be Herod all with short hair. All statues and carvings of Roman legionnaires show them with closely cropped hair. A Roman with long hair was an oddity as is... er... used to be the case for men in our society. In fact ALL the Roman emperors before, during, and after the time of Christ, from Julius Caesar to Trajan, wore short hair. And the emperor was the individual who set the pattern in style and mode of dress for the whole empire
   Prior to the coming of the Romans, it was the Hellenistic Greek culture which dominated the Eastern Mediterranean, and Judaea by no means escaped Even in Christ's day, a large segment of the Jewish population was Greek-Bespeaking and Hellenistic in outlook. (See John 12:20; Acts 6:1.) The Greek, Hellenistic style for men was to wear the hair short (Cornfeld, pp. 15, 146). On page 146 of Daniel to Paul is a picture of a "marble statuette of an unidentified man of the hellenistic period a time of close contacts between the Jewish and hellenistic civilizations in thought, art, and everyday life. Whether Jewish or Gentile, he evokes his age and environment." The man had short hair. But notice that the author, a learned historian and archaeologist, COULD NOT TELL whether the man was Gentile or Jewish. Why? Because the styles of the day were the same throughout the Near-Eastern region, and that included short hair!
   What about the non-Hellenistic Jews? The Jewish Talmud, which is anti-Hellenistic, states that all priests should have their hair cut once every thirty days (Ta'anith 17a). These Jews were aware of the statement in Ezekiel 44:20, "Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long." The Talmud further tells us exactly what hair style the "Julian," or what we would call "a Caesar cut" (Sanhedrin 22b). And the priests were the religious leaders whom God intended to set the example for the community (Malachi 2:7). There are numerous other references to cutting hair in the Talmud.
   Statues and other reproductions of the Jewish men from Christ's period are few because many Jews objected to them on religious grounds. But those few we do have again point to short hair as the style for men of the period (Cornfeld, p. 287).
   Also, the following are sources in which you can find ancient pictures of known Jews having short hair:
   1) Nathan Ausubel, The Book of Jewish Knowledge, Crown Publishers, New York, 1964, pp. 25-26. This shows Jewish conceptions of both David and Ezra with short hair. They date from 250 A.D.
   2) The Standard Jewish Encyclopaedia, Cecil Roth, editor, Doubleday and Co., Garden City, New York, 1966, article "Art," p. 167. This shows Jews of the third century A.D. with short hair.
   Additionally, pictures are available in many encyclopedias of both the bust and the coins of King Herod Agrippa I. This king, contemporary with the early apostles, is regarded by scholars as having been an observant Jew by religion. He, too, wore his hair short.

Roman emperors set the style for the entire empire before, during and after the time of Christ. Neither General Pompey (upper left) nor the Emperor Trajan (left) wore long hair, nor did Julius Caesar nor Caesar Augustus (upper right). King Herod Agrippa I of Judaea (lower right), a Jew by religion, ruled shortly after the time of Christ.

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Tomorrow's World MagazineJune 1971Vol III, No. 06