Shaving (properly גָּלִח, ξυράω). The ancient Egyptians were the only Oriental nation who objected to wearing the beard. Hence, when Pharaoh sent to summon Joseph from his dungeon, we find it recorded that the patriarch "shaved himself" (Ge 41:14). Shaving was therefore a remarkable custom of the Egyptians, in which they were distinguished from other Oriental nations, who carefully cherished the beard, and regarded the loss of it as a deep disgrace. That this was the feeling of the Hebrews is obvious from many passages (see especially 2Sa 10:4); but here Joseph shaves himself in conformity with an Egyptian usage, of which this passage conveys the earliest intimation, but which is confirmed not only by the subsequent accounts of Greek and Roman writers, but by the ancient sculptures and paintings of Egypt, in which the male figure is usually beardless. It is true that in sculptures some heads have a curious rectangular beard, or rather beard case attached to the chin; but this is proved to be an artificial appendage by the same head being represented sometimes with and at other times without it, and still more by the appearance of a band which passes along the jaws and attaches it to the cap on the head or to the hair. It is concluded that this appendage was never actually worn, but was used in sculpture to indicate the male character. SEE BEARD.
The practice of shaving. the beard and hair, and sometimes the whole body, was observed among the Hebrews only under extraordinary circumstances. The Levites on the day of their consecration, and the lepers at their purification, shaved all the hair off their bodies (Nu 8:7; Le 14:8-9). A woman taken prisoner in war, when she married a Jew, shaved the hair off her head (De 22:12), and the Hebrews generally, and also the nations bordering on Palestine, shaved themselves when they mourned, and in times of great calamity, whether public or private (Isa 7:20; Isa 15:2; Jer 41:5; Jer 48:37; Bar. 6:30). God commanded the priests not to cut their hair or beards in their mournings (Le 21:5). It may be proper to observe that, among the most degrading of punishments for: women is the loss of their hair; and the apostle hints at this (1Co 11:6): "If it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven," etc. SEE HAIR.
Modern Orientals shave the head alone, and that only in the case of settled residents in towns (Van Lennep, Bible Lands, p. 517). SEE BARBER.