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Hair where?

Is Elijah’s hair on his shaggy head or on his goatskin shirt?

“Lord of hair” בַּעַל שַׂעָר occurs only in 1 Kings 1:8 and might be nothing more than a literary device to balance “lord of the flies” in the same paragraph. Opinions vary about its meaning. goatskin: 2 Kings 1:8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”For instance, although the NIV reads, “He had a garment of hair,” their footnote says it could mean “He was a hairy man.”

Shaggy

Many authors and translations say it means Elijah’s hair and beard were a mess.

  • goatskin 2 Kings 1:8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”“hair down to his waist”
  • “Chest hair coming out your shirt, arms a woolly carpet, a big bushy beard and wild, unkempt hair”
  • Both the New Living Translation and the NASB say, “He was a hairy man.”

In this view, Ira had to explain to Elijah: Look, when you hear, “How are you?” don’t say, “Not too shaggy.”

goatskincoatA garment?

I put a goatskin shirt on Elijah, but not as fancy as this.

  • Zechariah 13:4 notes that prophets wear hairy garments.
  • The English Standard Version and Darby’s word-for-word translation have “garment of hair” and “hairy garment.”
  • Easton’s Bible Dictionary gives him a garment of camel hair.
  • The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry says, “Elijah wore, most probably, a camel’s hair girdle.”
  • The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge says, “a rough garment, either made of camels’ hair… or of a skin, dressed with the hair on.” 🙂
  • goatskin-coat-landais-shepherdSir J. Chardin says, “a hairy garment.”
  • One author even wonders if the priest Zecharias in Luke 1:5 found Elijah’s old camel hair garment in the temple and gave it to John the Baptist!
  • Maybe the deciding factor was my 1950s middle-class upbringing among clean-shaven men with neatly trimmed hair.

At any rate, I dressed Elijah in a goatskin shirt with the hair turned out, something like the one on this shepherd.

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Elijah

Elijah