Leviticus 19:27
You shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shall you mar the corners of your beard.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) Round the corners of your heads.—That is, they are not to shave off the hair around the temples and behind the ears, so as to leave the head bald except a dish-like tuft upon the crown, thus imparting to their heads the form of a hemisphere. This was done by the Arabs, and other worshippers of the god Orotal. Hence the Arabs are ironically called “those with the corner of their hair polled,” as it is rightly rendered in the Margin (Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32).

Mar the corners of thy beard.—The beard was regarded by the Hebrews and other eastern nations as the greatest ornament of a man, and was as dear to them as life itself. It was the object of salutation (2Samuel 20:9), and the mutilation of it was looked upon as the greatest disgrace and most degrading punishment (2Samuel 10:4; Isaiah 7:20; Ezra 5:1-5, &c.). It was only in seasons of sorrow that the Hebrews neglected their beards; and sometimes, to show how deeply they were afflicted, they covered them up, or even cut them off, or tore them out (2Samuel 19:24; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 41:5, &c.). Because it was so precious a treasure, it was customary among some of the ancients to present to their gods the firstlings of their beards. The prohibition before us alludes to this practice.

Leviticus 19:27. The corners of your heads — That is, your temples; ye shall not cut off the hair of your heads round about your temples. This the Gentiles did, either for the worship of their idols, to whom young men used to consecrate their hair, being cut off from their heads, as Homer, Plutarch, and many others write; or in funerals or immoderate mournings, as appears from Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:37. And the like is to be thought concerning the beard, or the hair in the corner, that is, corners of the beard. The reason then of this prohibition is, because God would not have his people agree with idolaters, neither in their idolatries, nor in their excessive sorrowing, nor so much as in the appearances of it.19:1-37 laws. - There are some ceremonial precepts in this chapter, but most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are explanations of the ten commandments. It is required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God, ver. 2. To teach real separation from the world and the flesh, and entire devotedness to God. This is now the law of Christ; may the Lord bring every thought within us into obedience to it! Children are to be obedient to their parents, ver. 3. The fear here required includes inward reverence and esteem, outward respect and obedience, care to please them and to make them easy. God only is to be worshipped, ver. 4. Turn not from the true God to false ones, from the God who will make you holy and happy, to those that will deceive you, and make you for ever miserable. Turn not your eyes to them, much less your heart. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor, ver. 9. Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. We are to be honest and true in all our dealings, ver. 11. Whatever we have in the world, we must see that we get it honestly, for we cannot be truly rich, or long rich, with that which is not so. Reverence to the sacred name of God must be shown, ver. 12. We must not detain what belongs to another, particularly the wages of the hireling, ver. 13. We must be tender of the credit and safety of those that cannot help themselves, ver. 14. Do no hurt to any, because they are unwilling or unable to avenge themselves. We ought to take heed of doing any thing which may occasion our weak brother to fall. The fear of God should keep us from doing wrong things, though they will not expose us to men's anger. Judges, and all in authority, are commanded to give judgment without partiality, ver. 15. To be a tale-bearer, and to sow discord among neighbours, is as bad an office as a man can put himself into. We are to rebuke our neighbour in love, ver. 17. Rather rebuke him than hate him, for an injury done to thyself. We incur guilt by not reproving; it is hating our brother. We should say, I will do him the kindness to tell him of his faults. We are to put off all malice, and to put on brotherly love, ver. 18. We often wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in like manner we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour. Ver. 31: For Christians to have their fortunes told, to use spells and charms, or the like, is a sad affront to God. They must be grossly ignorant who ask, What harm is there in these things? Here is a charge to young people to show respect to the aged, ver. 32. Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to honour those to whom honour is due. A charge was given to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, ver. 33. Strangers, and the widows and fatherless, are God's particular care. It is at our peril, if we do them any wrong. Strangers shall be welcome to God's grace; we should do what we can to recommend religion to them. Justice in weights and measures is commanded, ver. 35. We must make conscience of obeying God's precepts. We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the gospel.Round the corners of your heads - This may allude to such a custom as that of the Arabs described by Herodotus. They used to show honor to their deity Orotal by cutting the hair away from the temples in a circular form. Compare the margin reference.

Mar the corners of thy beard - It has been conjectured that this also relates to a custom which existed among the Arabs, but we are not informed that it had any idolatrous or magical association. As the same, or very similar customs, are mentioned in Leviticus 21:5, and in Deuteronomy 14:1, as well as here, it would appear that they may have been signs of mourning.

27. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, &c.—It seems probable that this fashion had been learned by the Israelites in Egypt, for the ancient Egyptians had their dark locks cropped short or shaved with great nicety, so that what remained on the crown appeared in the form of a circle surrounding the head, while the beard was dressed into a square form. This kind of coiffure had a highly idolatrous meaning; and it was adopted, with some slight variations, by almost all idolaters in ancient times. (Jer 9:25, 26; 25:23, where "in the utmost corners" means having the corners of their hair cut.) Frequently a lock or tuft of hair was left on the hinder part of the head, the rest being cut round in the form of a ring, as the Turks, Chinese, and Hindus do at the present day.

neither shalt thou mar, &c.—The Egyptians used to cut or shave off their whiskers, as may be seen in the coffins of mummies, and the representations of divinities on the monuments. But the Hebrews, in order to separate them from the neighboring nations, or perhaps to put a stop to some existing superstition, were forbidden to imitate this practice. It may appear surprising that Moses should condescend to such minutiæ as that of regulating the fashion of the hair and the beard—matters which do not usually occupy the attention of a legislator—and which appear widely remote from the province either of government or of a religion. A strong presumption, therefore, arises that he had in mind by these regulations to combat some superstitious practices of the Egyptians.

The corners of your heads; i.e. your temples: Ye shall not cut off the hair of your heads round about your temples. This the Gentiles did, either for the worship of the devils or idols, to whom young men used to consecrate their hair, being cut off from their heads, as Homer, Plutarch, and many others write; or in funerals or immoderate mournings, as appears from Isaiah 15:2 Jeremiah 48:37. And the like is to be thought concerning the beard or the hair in the corner, i.e. corners of the beard. The reason then of this prohibition is, because God would not have his people agree with idolaters, neither in their idolatries, nor in their excessive sorrowing, no, nor so much as in the appearances and outward significations or expressions thereof. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads,.... The extremities of the hairs of the head, round about, on the forehead, temples, and behind the ears; this is done, as Jarchi says, when any one makes his temples, behind his ears, and his forehead alike, so that the circumference of his head is found to be round all about, as if they had been cut as with a bowl; and so the Arabians cut their hair, as Herodotus (b) reports; see Gill on Jeremiah 9:26,

neither shall thou mar the corners of thy beard; by shaving them entirely; Jarchi and other Jewish writers say, there are five of them, two on the right, as Gersom reckons them, one on the upper jaw, the other on the nether, and two over against them on the left, and one in the place where the nether jaw joins the right to the left, the chin; the same observes, that it was the manner of idolaters to do the above things; and Maimonides (c) is of opinion that the reason of the prohibition is, because the idolatrous priests used this custom; but this law does not respect priests only, but the people of Israel in general; wherefore rather it was occasioned by the Gentiles in common cutting their hair, in honour of their gods, as the Arabians did, as Herodotus in the above place relates, in imitation of Bacchus, and to the honour of him; and so with others, it was usual for young men to consecrate their hair to idols; but inasmuch as such practices were used on account of the dead, as Aben Ezra observes, it seems probable enough that these things are forbidden to be done on their account, since it follows,

(b) Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 8. (c) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 37. Hilchot Obede Cochabim, c. 12. sect. 1.

Ye shall not {k} round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.

(k) As did the Gentiles in sign of mourning.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. round the corners of your heads] i.e. cut off the hair from the temples. Cp. Jeremiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32. According to Herod. (iii. 8) it had a religious significance with certain Arab tribes. The belief that the hair was specially fitted to mark union with the Divine being, seems to have arisen from its continuous growth so long as life continues. See Rob.-Sm. Rel. of the Sem.2. 323 ff., 481 ff.

28 cuttings in your flesh for the dead] Another practice common among half-civilized races. It represented the custom of human sacrifices (see e.g. Herod. 4:71) as a propitiation to the spirit of the departed. Cp. Jeremiah 41:5, and perhaps (C.B.) Hosea 7:14. A. R. S. Kennedy, on the other hand (HDB. i. 172), considers that the original idea was to make an enduring covenant with the dead. He quotes Rob.-Sm. Rel. Sem.2 p. 305. For the prohibitions in this and Leviticus 19:27, cp. Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1.Even the personal rights of slaves were to be upheld; and a maid, though a slave, was not to be degraded to the condition of personal property. If any one lay with a woman who was a slave and betrothed to a man, but neither redeemed nor emancipated, the punishment of death was not to be inflicted, as in the case of adultery (Leviticus 20:10), or the seduction of a free virgin who was betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23.), because she was not set free; but scourging was to be inflicted, and the guilty person was also to bring a trespass-offering for the expiation of his sin against God (see at Leviticus 5:15.). נחרפת, from חרף carpere, lit., plucked, i.e., set apart, betrothed to a man, not abandoned or despised. הפדּה redeemed, חפשׁה emancipation without purchase, - the two ways in which a slave could obtain her freedom. בּקּרת, ἁπ. λεγ., from בּקּר to examine (Leviticus 13:36), lit., investigation, then punishment, chastisement. This referred to both parties, as is evident from the expression, "they shall not be put to death;" though it is not more precisely defined. According to the Mishnah, Kerith. ii. 4, the punishment of the woman consisted of forty stripes.
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