Physical descriptions Bible

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Published on January 13, 2008

Author: Donato

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What’s missing speaks as loudly as what’s there: physical descriptions in the Bible. :  What’s missing speaks as loudly as what’s there: physical descriptions in the Bible. Dr. Dave Unander Dept. of Biology, Eastern University St. Davids PA 19087-3696 dunander@eastern.edu Physical descriptions in the Bible: God’s general principle -:  Physical descriptions in the Bible: God’s general principle - The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7). Together for the first time! All the physical descriptions in the Bible! :  Together for the first time! All the physical descriptions in the Bible! There is a message here in how few descriptions there actually are… Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament Various women are said to be “beautiful”, but no details are given us (e.g., Gen. 29:17; II Samuel 11:2; Esther 2:7). Various men are described as “handsome”, but details are not given for the men either (e.g., Genesis 39:6; I Samuel 16:12; II Samuel 14:25). Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament The bride of the Song of Songs is described as having: beautiful eyes, nice breasts, nice teeth (and none of them missing), thick, descending hair, etc. In one of the very few references to skin color in Scripture, she tells us she is dark and lovely (Song of Songs 1:5). Could that be “I am black and beautiful”? Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament The bridegroom was “handsome” and “charming” (Song of Songs 1:16): he had eyes “like doves”, black wavy hair, and his body is described as “like polished ivory” (Song of Songs 5:19). Note that this suggests a lighter skin color than hers, but clearly it was not an issue to either of them. Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament Both Esau and David were said to be “red” or “ruddy” (Genesis 25:25; I Samuel 16:12). Note that the gene for red or auburn hair is independent of skin color. (For example, both Malcolm X and Redd Foxx were African-Americans with red/auburn hair.) Thus we may know what color hair Esau and David had, but not their skin color. Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament Canaanites were bigger than the Jews (Numbers 13:32-33). Saul, however, was tall (I Samuel 10:23). Goliath was even taller (I Samuel 17:4) and this was a family characteristic (II Samuel 21:15-22). One of Goliath’s relatives had polydactyly (extra fingers and toes), a known genetic trait (II Samuel 21:20-21). Eglon was fatter than the length of a foot-and-a-half long sword (Judges 3:16-17, 21-22). Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament Esau was a hairier man than his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:11). Absalom, David’s son, had exceptionally thick and long hair (II Samuel 14:26; 18:9). Samson’s hair was uncut until he got delilahed (Judges 16:13). Elisha was bald (II Kings 2:23). Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament One of the few references to the color of complexion is: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil”. (Jeremiah 13:23) Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament The skin color of an Ethiopian and the spots of a leopard are here used as a metaphor for something that is not changeable, to describe those so accustomed to doing evil that they have become incapable of doing good (Jeremiah 13:23). Thus Ethiopians on average had a different skin color than Jews, still generally true today. The metaphor is based on the fact that one cannot change one’s basic skin color, not that any particular complexion is superior or inferior. Physical descriptions in the Old Testament:  Physical descriptions in the Old Testament Isaiah prophesied about the suffering servant - the man Christians believe to be Jesus – as physically unattractive: “…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness”. (Isaiah 52: 14) “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him…like one from whom men hide their faces” (Isaiah 53: 3). Physical descriptions in the New Testament :  Physical descriptions in the New Testament The Roman Empire and adjacent regions at the time of Christ and the apostles were cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse. In the Gospels and Letters, however, there are even less physical descriptions than in the Old Testament. This further illustrates the irrelevance of appearance and ethnic heritage to receiving the Gospel. Physical descriptions in the New Testament:  Physical descriptions in the New Testament There are descriptions of infirmities that Jesus or his disciples healed (various references, especially in the Gospel of Luke), but these are independent of ethnic origin. Zacchaeus was short (Luke 19:3). Paul tells us that in person, he himself was physically unimpressive (II Corinthians 10:9), but no details are given. Physical descriptions in the New Testament:  Physical descriptions in the New Testament In the church at Antioch, one of the leaders who commissioned Paul and Barnabas on their first mission to the Gentiles was “Simeon called Niger” (Acts 13:1). This possibly was a nickname -“Black Simeon” - to differentiate him from another lighter-skinned Simeon, (but no one really knows). Finally, “black” has sometimes been used as an analogy for sin in some sermons and books.:  Finally, “black” has sometimes been used as an analogy for sin in some sermons and books. What is the color of sin in the Bible? The color of sin in the Bible is the color of fresh bloodstains:  The color of sin in the Bible is the color of fresh bloodstains Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together”, says the LORD - “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool”. (Isaiah 1:17-18)

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