This study has been done by several brethren, many times, and yet I would like to offer a different starting point for our journey – the Beginning (Beresheit).
Beresheit (Genesis) 1:26 -27:
(26) And Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
(27) So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim created he him; male and female created he them.
Beresheit (Genesis) 9:6: Whoever sheds a man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of Elohim, He made man.
– I have heard several brothers explain, and read several studies, on the reasons why beards are not necessary: beard growth is not “commanded” in the Torah; or certain scriptures citing beards are taken out of context; and on and on! And yet, if we start at the beginning, Beresheit, we find out that one of the greater contexts of creation is that – we were created in the image of Yahweh our Elohim! Our physical form is made in the image/shadow of Elohim is has been made for His esteem. Let me reiterate that for everyone – we were made to give Him honor and esteem, not ourselves. We were made perfect in His eyes – “Tov” (translated as “good” in the KJV) meaning “functional and complete.” In other words, men, if your body is capable of growing a beard then you are to let it do so – you were made tov and in the image of Elohim.
What do the Scriptures say about beards:
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 19:27: “Do not round the corner of your head, nor destroy the corner of your beard.”
– The word beard comes from the Hebrew word “zaqan זקן (zaw-kawn)” H2206 meaning “the beard (as indicating age): – beard.” It comes from the 3 letter Hebrew root “zaqen זקן (zaw-kane)” meaning “to be old: – aged man, be (wax) old (man) – ELDER.” It was a physical symbol of a man’s maturity, wisdom, and longevity. Much like the Tzitzit was a physical symbol of set-apartness to others (as well as reminder to us of the Torah), the beard gave a physical symbol for guidance and wisdom in the set-apart ways and reminder that we are made in the image of Elohim. While the statute here does not “command” a man to grow a beard, it is pretty impossible to shave what you do not have, thus you are “indirectly” commanded to have a beard if your body is able.
– The word corner comes from the Hebrew word is “pe’ah פּאה (pay-aw)” H6285 meaning “mouth in a figurative sense, which is, direction, region, extremity: – corner, end, quarter, side.” Similarly, we were also commanded to leave the “corners” of the fields and vineyards for the poor and the foreigner, because Yahweh’s loving-kindness extends to the four corners of the Earth:
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 19:9-10:
(9) ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
(10) You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your Elohim.
– Here we are commanded to preserve the beard and not cause baldness to be upon our heads. While it is true that much of the pagan worship surrounding the children of Yisra’el (Egyptian deities, Molech, Milcom, Dagon, Mithras/Nimrod, Eôstre, etc.) incorporated shaving of the beard and baldness into worship, class/status, and mourning/dead worship, and were not supposed to pattern themselves after the peoples of the lands:
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 18:3: You shall not do as they do in the land of Mitzrayim, where you lived: and you shall not do as they do in the land of Kena`an, where I am bringing you; neither shall you walk in their statutes.
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 18:26: You therefore shall keep my statutes and my ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations; neither the native-born, nor the stranger who lives as a foreigner among you.
It is not the context of the passage (sorry 119 Ministries)! The context of the entirety of Vayyikra (Leviticus) 19 is written in verse 2:
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 19:2: “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Yisra’el, and tell them, ‘You shall be set-apart (kodesh); for I, Yahweh your Elohim, am set-apart (kodesh).
– You are to be set-apart because of 2 main factors: 1.) Yahweh made you in His image – nothing else under the heavens was made in His express image, and 2.) Yahweh alone declares what is set-apart and what is not – you are to be set-apart because He says so. So how do you be set-apart as He is – keep His loving statutes and commands as He expounds upon, through word of Mosheh, in Vayyikra 19.
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 21:5: They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
– This command is slightly different than the previous, in that it specifically addresses the set-apartness of the priests. Just as the priests were not allowed to shave the hair of their faces or heads for mourning of dead love ones, they were also not to rent/tear their garments either, nor fail to perform their service to the tabernacle.(Vayyikra (Leviticus) 10:6-8) The totalilty of Vayyikra 21, like Vayyikra 19, addresses what it means to be “holy” or set-apart unto Elohim. The priest were to be the mediators between the Children of Yisra’el and Yahweh and were to be examples of a life of righteousness unto Him. As discussed in the previous excerpt, they were to exemplify the “image” of Elohim and His loving-kindness, preserve the statutes, laws, and right-rulings as commanded, and also be zealous in their service of Yahweh.
– Here is why I listed this one regardless of the direct implication of the priesthood:
Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 2:9-10:
(9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for Elohim’s own possession, that you may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
(10) who in time past were no people, but now are Elohim’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
– By dying in Messiah, we have become new men, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation unto Yahweh our Elohim. You may consider it a stretch, and I understand if you do, but if we are “priests” and you believe that Yahweh’s statutes are “not done away with,” then this may very well apply to you. I ask that you search the face of Elohim and pray on it. In addition, if we are to be like Messiah to our brothers and sisters and to the nations, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan, our Messiah was the made in the “physical image” of Elohim and so we must be also made in the image of Elohim!
Tehellim (Psalms) 133:2: It is like the precious oil on the head, That ran down on the beard, Even Aharon’s beard; That came down on the edge of his robes;
– Aharon (Aaron) here exemplifies not only his ordination as High Priest, but all Hebrew men by allowing His beard to grow as Yahweh made it to.
Reproach of Beardlessness:
– Most often, as recorded in the Scriptures, it was a shame and reproach to a man who was found without a beard. The hair of the beard may have been plucked or shaved to humiliate/shame Hebrew men so much so that even the Messiah had His beard plucked in order to humiliate him. Here are some of the Scriptures that display that point:
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 7:20: In that day will יהוה shall shave that is hired in the parts beyond the River, even with the king of Ashshur, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard.
(2) He has gone up to the house and Dibon, to the high places to weep. Mo’av is wailing over Nebo and over Mĕydeba; on all their heads is baldness, and every beard is cut off.
(3) In their streets they shall put on sackcloth; on the tops of their houses and in their streets everyone wails, weeping bitterly.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 50:6: I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard, I did not hide My face from humiliation and spitting.
– This is a Messianic prophesy that was fullfilled during the beating and impaling of Our Messiah in the Gospels.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 41:5: That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the Elohim.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 48:37: “For every head is bald, and every beard clipped – cuts on all the hands, and sackcloth on the loins.
Ezra 9:3: And when I heard this word, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.
Shemu’el Beyt (2 Samuel) 10:4-5:
(4) Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.
(5) When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Yericho until your beards be grown, and then return.
Q’orintiyim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:3-6:
(3) But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Messiah; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Messiah is Elohim.
(4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his Head.
(5) But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
(6) For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
– If man should pray/prophesies with his “physical head” being covered, it shames/dishonors his “spiritual head” which is Messiah Yahushua. If a woman prays/prophesies with her “physical head” uncovered, she shames her “head” being her husband. The shame on her husband is the same as if he were shaved, replying to the shaving off his beard as a symbol of shame.
It is my sincerest hope that the scriptures presented here given enough evidence for the growth and preserving of beards. Men, I challenge you to read through the scriptures and search the face of Elohim for the truth of the matter. He asks us to hear and obey – love through obedience. I pray this study blesses you and enriches your spiritual walk.