Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

7/1/2005 - 6/30/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Hair as a Cultural Code in Ancient Israel

FAIN: FB-51554-05

Susan Ruth Niditch
Amherst College (Amherst, MA 01002-2372)

The body is a template; the body is a statement of rebellion or convention, individual attitude or group identity. I will study one feature of the body in Israelite tradition, hair. Drawing upon biblical and extra-biblical evidence and upon contemporary work concerning the body and hair by scholars in religious studies, women's studies, anthropology, and ancient Near Eastern studies, I will explore this complex symbol drawn from the body within a multi-disciplinary and comparative framework. Major foci are the trajectory shared by maleness, warrior status, charismatic holiness, and hairiness and the ways in which the cutting or loosening of women's hair by men reveals much about gender and the place of women in a world imagined by men.

Media Coverage

Date: 12/28/2011

Associated Products

"My Brother Esau Is a HAiry Man": Hair and Identity in Ancient Israel (Book)
Title: "My Brother Esau Is a HAiry Man": Hair and Identity in Ancient Israel
Author: Susan Niditch
Abstract: Hair plays an integral and intricate role in the way human beings represent and identify themselves. Treatments of hair have to do with aesthetics, social structure, religious identity, and a host of other aspects of culture. In the traditions of ancient Israel and its neighbors, hair relates to important aspects of identity concerning gender, ethnicity, holiness, and social and economic status. The goal of this monograph is to gain a deeper understanding of Israelite culture as expressed, shaped, and reinforced in images of hair, a complex symbol drawn from the body.
Year: 2008
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780195181142