2 Samuel 14:26
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.
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(26) Two hundred shekels.—The value of the shekel “after the king’s weight” is unknown. If it was the same with the shekel of the sanctuary, the weight mentioned would be about six pounds; if only half as much, the weight would still be very extraordinary. Some clerical error has probably arisen in copying the number in the MSS.

2 Samuel 14:26. When he polled his head, &c. — In those days hair was accounted a great ornament, and the longer it was, the more it was esteemed. And therefore it is no wonder that Absalom, who was proud, and courted popularity, should let his grow to a great length, as this rendered him still more beautiful in the people’s eyes. It was at every year’s end that he polled it — The Hebrew here,מקצ ימים לימים, mekets jamim lajamim, does not properly signify, at every year’s end, but rather, at the return of a certain season. Houbigant renders the passage, For there were certain seasons when he polled it, that he might deliver himself from the weight; and when he polled it, the weight was two hundred shekels. This weight of hair, if computed by the Jewish shekel, according to Bochart, amounts to three pounds two ounces of our weight, which certainly is prodigious, considering that only a part of it was cut off, on account of its being grown too long. Some, however, understand the expression, not of the weight, but of the price of his hair. But the remark of Bishop Patrick here seems worthy of notice: That, “when the books of Samuel were revised, after the Babylonish captivity, such weights were mentioned as were then known to them; and therefore, when the historian speaks of this weight of Absalom’s hair, he adds, by way of explanation, that it was after the king’s weight — That is, after the weight of the king of Babylon, whose shekel was only one-third of that of the Jews; and thus this large quantity of hair, which has given so much occasion to the enemies of revelation to ridicule the sacred text, is reduced so as not to seem at all enormous. Besides, we should recollect that the hair, being in those days reckoned a great ornament, was perfumed with large quantities of fragrant oils, and powdered with gold-dust, which would make it more heavy than we could otherwise imagine; and further we should remark, that it is very evident from the peculiar manner in which it is mentioned in the sacred text, that there must have been something extremely singular, even at that time, in this large quantity of Absalom’s hair.” — See Dr. Dodd, and Saurin’s 5th Dissert.

14:25-27 Nothing is said of Absalom's wisdom and piety. All here said of him is, that he was very handsome. A poor commendation for a man that had nothing else in him valuable. Many a polluted, deformed soul dwells in a fair and comely body. And we read that he had a very fine head of hair. It was a burden to him, but he would not cut it as long as he could bear the weight. That which feeds and gratifies pride, is not complained of, though uneasy. May the Lord grant us the beauty of holiness, and the adorning of a meek and quiet spirit! Only those who fear God are truly happy.Two hundred shekels ... - The exact weight cannot be determined. If these "shekels after the king's weight" were the same as "shekels of the sanctuary," the weight would be about 6 lbs., which is incredible; "twenty" shekels is more probable. 25, 26. But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty—This extraordinary popularity arose not only from his high spirit and courtly manners, but from his uncommonly handsome appearance. One distinguishing feature, seemingly an object of great admiration, was a profusion of beautiful hair. Its extraordinary luxuriance compelled him to cut it "at every year's end;" lit., "at times," "from time to time," when it was found to weigh two hundred shekels—equal to one hundred twelve ounces troy; but as "the weight was after the king's shekel," which was less than the common shekel, the rate has been reduced as low as three pounds, two ounces [Bochart], and even less by others. Whereas ordinarily the hair of a man’s head which grows in a year’s space comes not to half so much. But some men’s hair grows much faster, and is much heavier, than others. But others understand this not of the weight, but of the price of his hair, which was sold by him that polled it at that rate.

And when he polled his head,.... Or cut off the hair of it; for that was one thing, a good head of hair which he had, that made him look very comely and beautiful:

for it was at every year's end that he polled it; or cut it off once a year; but the Jews say (w) he was a perpetual Nazarite:

because the hair was heavy upon him, and therefore he polled it; it grew so very thick and long in one year's time, that he was obliged to cut it; and what might add to the weight of it, its being oiled and powdered; and, as some say, with the dust of gold, to make it look yellow and glistering:

he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels, after the king's weight; and a shekel being the weight of half an ounce of avoirdupois weight, as Bishop Cumberland (x) has shown from various writers, the weight of his hair must be an hundred ounces; which was a very great weight indeed on his head. Some think that the price it was sold at, and not the weight of it, is meant; which they suppose was sold to women for ornament about their temples, and the money given either to the poor, or for the use of the sanctuary; and reckoning a shekel at two shillings and sixpence, as some do, the value of it came to twenty five pounds of our money; but the above mentioned writer (y) reduces it to about two shillings and four pence farthing; which makes the value somewhat less; but inasmuch as it is not so probable that a person of such rank should sell his hair, nor does it appear that any, such use was made of hair in those times as suggested; and this being said to be according to the king's weight or stone, by which all weights were to be regulated, it is best to understand this of the weight, and not of the price of his hair; which, according to Josephus (z), was five pounds; but, according to the above account, it must be six pounds and a quarter. The Jews say (a) this weight was according to what the inhabitants of Tiberias and Zippore used, but do not tell us what it was.

(w) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Nazir, c 1. sect. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 194. 3. Gloss. T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 10. 2.((x) Scripture Weights and Measures, ch. 4. p. 103. (y) Ibid. p. 104. (z) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 8. sect. 5. (a) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 10. 2.

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 {p} shekels after the king's weight.

(p) Which weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces after half an ounce the shekel.

25–27. Absalom’s person and family

26. polled] From poll, the head, comes the verb to poll, to cut the hair.

two hundred shekels after the king’s weight] If the royal shekel was the same as the sacred shekel, two hundred shekels would be about six pounds, an extraordinary weight. But perhaps the royal shekel was smaller, or as is so often the case with numbers, there may be some error in the text. It was not considered effeminate for men to wear their hair long: the Nazarites did so (Numbers 6:5), and Josephus says that Solomon’s body-guard had long flowing hair. Modern Arabs frequently allow the hair to grow to its natural length.

Verse 26. - Two hundred shekels after the king's weight. Unless the royal shekel was smaller than the shekel of the sanctuary, the weight of Absalom's hair would be six pounds. But we cannot believe that the king's shekel was not full weight; for to imagine this is to suppose that the king had tampered with the coinage; for the shekel was a coin as well as a weight, being originally a fixed quantity of silver. As a matter of fact, David had amassed too much silver to have need of resorting to what is the expedient of feeble and impoverished princes. Nor can we grant an error in the number; for the versions all agree with the Hebrew, so that any mistake must, at all events, be of great antiquity. Josephus says that Solomon's body guard wore long hair powdered with gold dust, and undoubtedly Absalom's hair was something extraordinary (2 Samuel 18:9). But six pounds is so enormous a weight that it is just possible that some ancient copyist has enlarged the number, to make it accord with a legend current among the people, in which this feature of Absalom's beauty had been exaggerated. 2 Samuel 14:26"When he polled his head, and it took place from year to year that he polled it; for it became heavy upon him (too heavy for him), and so he polled it: they weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king's weight." A strong growth of hair was a sign of great manly power, and so far a proof of Absalom's beauty. The statement as to the weight of the hair cut off, viz., two hundred shekels, is in any case a round number, and much too high, although we do not know what the difference between the royal and the sacred shekel really was. According to the sacred reckoning, two hundred shekels would be about six pounds; so that if we were to assume that the royal shekel was about half the other, the number would be still much too high. It is evident, therefore, that there is an error in the text, such as we frequently meet with in the case of numbers, though we have no means of rectifying it, as all the ancient versions contain the same number.
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