For some reason the LORD held great contempt for those who cut off their sideburns and plans them harm. In the list of the nations with whom he is angry about this is Judah:

NET Bible Jeremiah 9:

26That is, I will punish the Egyptians, the Judeans, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples. I will do so because none of the people of those nations are really circumcised in the LORD's sight. Moreover, none of the people of Israel are circumcised when it comes to their hearts."

Since when is the God of Israel incensed with Israel's neighbors for their grooming? Normally he only holds Israel to his standards. Or is this feature simply a convenient coincidental shortcut for the "gentiles" of the area?

I would think that it might simply be a shortcut except that the Judaeans are included and they aren't gentiles.

So what is the nature of this grooming offense and why is Judah misgrooming?

  • I am inclined to think that it is a matter of headship. If one separates one's own beard (on one's chin) from the hair of one's head (the 'head') then it is symbolic of asserting one's own humanity as separated from the humanity of one's 'head'. The anointing oil flowed down the head of Aaron, down his beard, Psalm 133:2 and to the skirts of the priestly garment (she touched the border of his garment and was made whole). So the manly humanity expressed on earth is to be connected (not severed) from the Head above. But I would need an Hebrew expert to verify the grammar for me.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 28, 2020 at 20:40
  • פֵאָה peat Strong 6285 - BDB : sides, edges, borders, boundaries.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 28, 2020 at 21:00

2 Answers 2


Great question.

Actually the denomination of קצוצי פאה or people who cut their hair short at the temples seems to target the Bedouins and nomads dwelling in the Arabisan desert. See for example Jeremiah 25:23 where the same expression is found in connection with the nomads and desert people: Dedan, Tema, Buz and kings of Arabia. There is no indication that Israel is included in the denomination of קצוצי פאה, or any of the other nations listed in the verse for that matter. This custom of cropping the edges of temples and forehead has been attested elsewhere:

those polled, cropped at the edges of the beard and sides of the head, are such as have the hair cut from off the temples and the forehead, observing a custom which, according to Herod. iii.8... was usual amongst some of the tribes of the Arabian Desert. The imitation of this practice was forbidden to the Israelites by the law, Leviticus 19:27; from which passage we may see that פאה refers to the head and the beard. (Commentary of K&D)

However, there is no reason to take this as an admonition directed at the Arabians for practicing this rite, although the epithet קצוצי פאה smacks of derision (or as you would have it "great contempt") and may have been intended as a denigratory denomination of the Arabian tribes (similar to the epithet ערלים "uncircumcised" which is derogatory of the pagan nations). However, your conclusion that the text indicates that the "God of Israel was incensed with Israel's neighbors for their grooming" is a little bit far fetched. Would you say that the phrase "for all these nations are really uncircumcised", in the end of that verse, indicates in any way that he God of Israel was incensed at the pagans for being uncircumcised?

But we mustn't get carried away with semantics, the essence of this prophecy is that all the nations including Israel, circumcised and uncircumcised, will be punished for their sins, "for all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart."

  • So are you suggesting that the LORD is angry because of other, unnamed sins and is only using the violation of the Torah's prohibition of cutting one's sideburns and being uncircumcised as a convenient way to identify the tribes whose unnamed sins are offending him?
    – Ruminator
    Aug 28, 2020 at 20:54

Many English bibles add the word "hair" but in the original Hebrew text is simply says "those who cut corners" , it may mean something to do with the symbolism of pagan hair or grooming practices for the dead such as is mentioned in the prohibition for cutting or tattooing oneself for the dead in Leviticus 20 But other than that its not very clear why God is angry about this, its mentioned also in Jeremiah 25:23 and 49:32 it comes across as a very negative thing, but hair is probably not the issue, even though Jewish Tradition indicates otherwise. What do you think?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.