"The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair."
Hair, according to the Bible
The hair happens to be an important element of beauty and strength in the bible times thus it is littered with various descriptions of the hair.
Long hair was admired in young men and some like Samson was injuncted never to cut their hair. Shaving off the hair indicated suffering and having unkempt hair meant that a person was grieving.
The prominent hair color seemed to be black for the young people and white hair usually indicated old age, associated with wisdom, as well as divinity.
An example of someone who had white hair in the bible is Moses. Although there is no such record in the bible, other writers have suggested that Moses had white hair.
Who is Moses?
40 years leading a group of people through the wilderness, Moses is recorded to have begun this journey on Mount Horeb in a burning bush encounter.
The bible's record of Moses before the exodus describes how he was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter from the Nile river where his mother had 'abandoned' him, even though she kept his sister Miriam close by. Pharaoh's daughter adopted Moses but gave him back to his mother to nurse and return him to the palace.
Moses grew up in the Egyptian royal palace, however, he fled Egypt after he killed an Egyptian slave master who smote an Israelite. He fled to Midian where he met the Lord speaking to him in a Burning Bush experience on Mount Horeb. There he was appointed to go to Egypt and deliver the people of Israel.
Moses is believed to have started this mission at the age of 80, eventually wandering in the wilderness with the Israelites for 40 years. He died at the age of 120 having gotten a peek at the promised land from Mount Nebo.
His physical appearance. Did Moses really have white hair?
It would be easy to believe that Moses was, among other things, a brilliant and well-built man. As a baby, he must have been chubby and smooth so much that he attracted and kept the attention of Pharaoh's daughter.
The only record of Moses' physical appearance in the bible refers to the time when his face shone brightly because he had been with God for 40 days and nights. The passage declared "and when Moses came down from Mount Sinai...he was unaware that his face had become radiant from speaking with the Lord."
Apparently, the tone of his skin changed because of his contact with the Lord but it says nothing about his hair.
However, other literature exists which tries to explain the person of Moses from varying perspectives. Some even try to bestow on him the nature of a deity as opposed to the bible which recognizes him as a mortal man, fallible in his ways.
The Jewish Encyclopedia describes Moses' as unique and well known because of strength and beauty. Other historical citations talk about his beauty in old age as an 80-year-old man who was tall, ruddy, dignified and had long white hair.
He is further described as the "father of wisdom" because of his great wealth of wisdom. He did not feel burdened with piety and his authority equaled the authority of a seventy-one member Sanhedrin.
The question becomes, "what link could Moses' white hair have with all of the wisdom and abilities he possessed?"
What causes white hair?
Often the world relates white hair to old age. Whenever a person appears with white hair people assume that he must be advanced in age. Furthermore, this age is believed to be associated with wisdom.
But what really causes white hair?
Studies show that each hair strand has two parts: the shaft and the root.
The shaft is visible to all, the colored part of the hair which is combed, dyed, and styled.
The root is at the bottom, holding the hair down to the scalp.
Each strand's root has a tube of tissue buried in the skin, called the follicle, which contains the pigment cells that produce a chemical called melanin.
Melanin gives the hair shaft its color — red, black, blonde, brown — as it grows.
However, as people get older, pigment cells in each follicle die off bit by bit. When a follicle no longer has enough pigment cells, the melanin in it becomes drastically reduced so that the strand becomes discolored. The more pigment cells die, the more strands are discolored so that after a while the entire hair becomes white or gray.
White hair may begin to show up in some people as early as 20 years or even 30 years. Genes also determine how early white hairs spring upon a person. White hairs take their time to develop. It might take as long as 10 years for a person's hair to turn entirely white from the time they notice the first strand of white hair.
Moses and white hair
"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life."
The bible is replete with citations of white hair being a symbol of glory obtained from a life well-lived. Moses must have deserved gray hair judging from his life and services to the God who called him.
Encountering God one on one must have also conferred the legendary white hair on him since his encounter caused him to glow.
Other people who had white hair in the bible
- Prophet Samuel. He once announced to the Israelites, "...now here is the King walking before you, while I'm old and gray"
- David. In a desperate prayer, David said to God "...even when I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God." It's safe to assume that he attained gray since he died at 70.
- Jesus. Revelation seems to explain the divine nature of Jesus when it states "His head and his hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire."
The Bible is very clear on its position of the hair as an object of beauty and personality.
As an older person, you can find out ways to rock your graying hair instead of hiding it behind colors.
Your hair rocks!