Last week, my lovely Bride took our youngest granddaughter to a local production of Rapunzel. Apparently it was a big hit with her, because she wanted to meet all the cast members following the curtain call. Being just shy of three years old, she wouldn’t speak with them, but she did want them to speak to her. I guess that’s an early form of being star struck.
When I saw her upon her arrival at our home, I immediately said to her, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!” She just gave me a blank stare like her Papa was losing it. Maybe the new version is different than the one I read sixty-five years ago. People have a way of messing with these Grimm things. It was apparent, however, that Rapunzel’s hair still plays an integral part in the play.
The whole Rapunzel thing got me thinking about the importance of hair in history—particularly, Biblical history. With the big to-dos we make about our own coifs these days (Rogaine and all that), I’m surprised Rapunzel hasn’t made a comeback long before now. I, myself, still have a bunch of it—albeit gray and thinning. A lot of my friends are follically challenged, so I sort of stand out in that arena (everyone should be good at something).
In Bible times (as we like to say in the trade), there were some folks whose hair was their claim to fame. Samson was probably the most famous (or infamous) one. You may remember him. When his locks were lengthy, he had enormous strength. When his gal, Delilah, gave him a clip job, he was weakened to such a point that it led to his demise. It was quite gruesome, so I won’t get into it any further. Still, we should take note of it at this juncture.
Then there was Absalom. Absalom was King David’s rebellious son. He was known for his long, thick mane of hair. He would get it all chopped off once a year simply because it got too heavy for him. Apparently, once when he was shorn, someone weighed it—five pounds. That’s quite a mane. His good hair and striking appearance were the talk of the town.
Like Samson, however, his cephalic mop did him in. Unlike Samson, though, it was because he had too much hair rather than too little. He was riding his trusty mule one day and got his do tangled in the low-hanging branches of an oak tree. As he hung there, David’s army surrounded him and made quick work of him. I’ll spare you the old “hair today, gone tomorrow” quip, but you get the picture.
When I was young and had heavy hair (not as heavy as Absalom’s mind you, but dark, thick, and wavy), I used to kiddingly tell people I couldn’t get it cut off or I’d lose all my strength. I have no excuses now. I’m old and weak despite the hair. Now it’s merely a habit.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]