Why did Joseph shave before standing before Pharaoh when it was Jewish practice to keep a beard?

'Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.'

One of the many laws the Creator God gave to Israel that had to do with holiness was the law requiring men to wear beards. Leviticus 19:27 and 21:1-5 are the only two texts that give clear instructions concerning the wearing of a beard by Israelite males.

There is little doubt that most adult males of ancient Israelite, as well as the Jews of Christ's time wore full beards in compliance with the law regarding beards noted in Leviticus 19:27.

So why did Joseph need to break Jewish law and shave before seeing Pharaoh?

Genesis 41:14

MODERNHEBREW - 14 וישלח פרעה ויקרא את יוסף ויריצהו מן הבור ויגלח ויחלף שמלתיו ויבא אל פרעה׃

Clarify Share Report Asked June 21 2016 Mini Ken van Zyl

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84924d6f 9be5 4261 9e07 ab5f6a8c5842 Lena Wms Student @Christ Gospel Church, S.S.Teacher, Observer
First, I must start with this disclaimer, I have never heard a teaching on this that I can recall. These are just my own thoughts based on previous teachings.

Joseph had lived appox 15 years with Potiphar, the Chief Steward to Pharaoh. He knew the customs of the Egyptian people from Potiphar. He knew the things that they liked, what they disliked, what they considered an abomination, (If you will remember, Joseph advised his own father, Jacob not to tell Pharaoh that he was just a shepherd because this was an abomination to the Egyptians. Gen 46:34) 

Looking back in time, to all of the artifacts that have been unearthed from the land of Egypt, all of the hieroglyphics, the tomb capsules, everything we see from that era shows men with shaved faces except for a small goatee. 

Joseph, in Potiphar's home would have been required to shave his face in this manner in order to be head of all Potiphar had. Gen 39: 5-6

When Joseph was placed in prison, there was no need for him to shave, we know that he was recognized as a Godly man for the keeper of the prison turned the prison over to him. 

However, when Joseph was sent for by the Pharaoh, he knew that he must look like the part. The part he learned in Potiphar's home. While it took a moment, he bathed, shaved, washed off the filth of the prison and changed into clean clothes. 

This is something to really think about: Joseph knew, He had great faith that this was his deliverance call! The Pharaoh desires to see you. Joseph flew into action! He knew that he was about to be delivered from the prison. That is Faith in God! He had been in prison for almost 20 years. For a supposed crime, something that would have angered God against him. Yet look how God prospered him! Joseph had such great Faith. He bathed, set off his prison clothes, and shaved to look like the Egyptians. 

Off to see Pharaoh, to his new life, the new path that God had set for him.

Joseph played a role with the Egyptians, in many ways he had to go against the faith of his fathers. (dress, shaving, food, touching the dead etc) Think of all the customs of the Pharaohs and Egypt at that time versus what God told Abraham, Issac, and Jacob to do. 

HOWEVER, Jacob remembered that Joseph was separated from them and gave Joseph a double portion blessing. To this day, Joseph's descendants through his son's, Manasseh and Ephraim enjoy and will continue to further enjoy their father's Joseph blessing. 

I hope this has helped..

Be Blessed

June 25 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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