THE MEANING OF A HEBRAIC BEARD

July 23, 2019

 

 

In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam introduces us to Amram, her father’s business partner and her prospective father-in-law, by comparing him to her fiancé Noah:

 

Together Noah and Amram reminded me of a before-and-after picture. Both are lanky, their arms enclosing their body like a pair of parentheses, each face split by a narrow, hatchet-blade nose, the halves reunited by a span of long overlapping front teeth and a receding chin that makes you believe everything they say. But Noah is clean shaven, his sparse tawny hair as straight and stubborn as the bristles on a paint brush, whereas Amram’s hair is the color of mother-of-pearl, its untidy wisps extending from his pink scalp to his lacey Hebraic beard, which he twines when he’s deep in thought.

 

The custom of growing a beard derives from Leviticus 19:27. “You shall not round the edges of your head, nor shall you destroy the edge [meaning the corners] of your beard.” To round the edges of the head does not mean to cut the head itself but rather to cut the hair on the head. And so, in Miriam’s time, a long Hebraic beard was regarded as a sign of age, maturity, and wisdom.

 

In The Deadliest Sport, Miriam describes the changes in Amram after several calamities: Sadness has pinched his lips, yellowed his cadaverous face, and engraved deep lines in his forehead. His skin has withered like old parchment, and his once lacy Hebraic beard has dwindled to a tangle of errant whiskers spiraling out of his receding chin. 

 

Ten years have passed between The Deadliest Lie and The Deadliest Sport. The characters have aged, but each story is still independent of the others. So, you can read the books in any order. Click here to see the entire set.

 

 

 

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