Dreadlocks, also known as locs, are a hairstyle associated with spiritual practices and natural hair movement. This distinctive hairstyle formed by matting or braiding hair has a long history, including biblical mentions. Examining scripture provides insight into which biblical figures potentially wore their hair in locs.
Dreadlocks carry deep cultural and spiritual symbolism. In various religions, donning locs represents a commitment to faith. The natural, uncombed look allows hair to mat into permanent locks. While anyone can wear locs, they’re predominately associated with black identity and Rastafari. For Rastafarians, dreadlocks represent the Lion of Judah’s mane, a reference to Haile Selassie I and a symbol of strength.
Examining biblical texts with fresh eyes reveals that several prominent biblical figures likely wore dreadlocked hair. Their locs affirmed their spiritual calling, status, and vows. This characteristic connects to modern practices of wearing dreadlocked hair for religious reasons.
Here are key takeaways on who may have worn dreadlocks in the bible:
- Samson famously possessed seven locks that imbued him with superhuman strength. These were likely early dreadlocks.
- Nazirites who took vows to serve God wore their hair uncut. Over time, these uncombed locks potentially formed dreads.
- Egyptians, a powerful biblical people group, wore locked hairstyles. Important figures like Joseph probably donned Egyptian dreadlocked styles.
- God compares his own hair to wool in Daniel’s vision, potentially referencing dreadlocked texture.
- Loc hairstyles would allow biblical figures to symbolize their spiritual commitment through uncut, matted hair.
Examining relevant scripture passages, cultural contexts, and theological symbolism reveals that important biblical figures likely wore locked hairstyles. Their locs set them apart for spiritual service. This connects with modern practices of dreadlocks indicating faith and devotion.
Samson’s Seven Locks
One of the earliest potential biblical references to dreadlocks appears in the story of Samson. The famous strongman possessed distinctive hair that imbued him with supernatural power. As Judges 16:13-14 describes:
“Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web…” (NKJV)
Delilah cut Samson’s seven dreadlocked strands, leaving him powerless. This passage suggests Samson wore his hair in distinct locked portions, each imparting strength. If these locks were cut, Samson became weak.
Samson’s seven locks sound similar to modern dreadlocks. Like Samson, those who wear locs often grow out their naturally coiled or kinky hair without manipulation. The uncombed strands mat and lock together over time due to texture. If cut, this can symbolize a loss of spiritual strength and identity.
Samson’s seven locks were likely primitive dreadlocks. His power came from following his Nazirite vows, including avoiding razor cuts. Like modern Rastafarians, Samson gained identity and calling through locked hair. For Samson and modern believers, locs can represent spiritual devotion and separation for God’s purposes.
Nazirite Vows and Uncut Hair
In addition to Samson, the Old Testament mentions other who took special spiritual vows and grew their hair long. Numbers 6:5 states:
“All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.” (NKJV)
“Locks” here translates to pere, meaning uncut, coarse hair. Over time, this naturally formed locs. Those taking Nazirite vows to separate themselves unto God refrained from haircuts. Avoiding manipulation allowed their textured hair to knot into permanent locks as it grew.
Like modern dreadlocks, these represented holiness and spiritual devotion. Locked hair became outward symbols of internal vows and calling. Figures like Samson and Samuel likely wore dreadlocked hairstyles from following Nazirite practices. Their commitment produced both locs and spiritual power.
Egyptian Locked Hairstyles
In addition to those under Nazirite vows, Egyptians commonly wore locked hairstyles. Several significant biblical figures either were Egyptian or spent time in Egypt. Potiphar, Joseph, and Moses all potentially wore culturally appropriate Egyptian locs.
Egyptian art commonly depicts figures with chin-length, squared locs. This locked style indicated status and religious devotion. Egyptians viewed well-kept locks as orderly and beautiful. As in other cultures, Egyptian locs tied personal piety with appearance.
Since important biblical figures like Joseph served in high ranks in Egypt, they likely adapted local locked hairstyles. Genesis 41:14 describes Joseph’s preparation to see Pharaoh:
“Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.” (NKJV)
“Shaved” here may indicate Joseph cut his hair short or into squared locks rather than removing all facial hair. If Joseph wore standard Egyptian locks, he would need to trim and arrange them neatly before seeing Pharaoh.
Potiphar and Moses would have also worn Egyptian locked hairstyles, signaling their cultural integration. For these key biblical figures, locs fit within their African Egyptian context.
God’s Locks in Daniel’s Vision
The Old Testament also uses locks as a descriptor of God’s own hair. Daniel 7:9 describes:
“As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat…His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.” (NIV)
God’s hair is “white like wool.” Wool’s curl pattern naturally tangles into locs over time. White symbolizes purity and age. This description presents God’s dreadlocked hair as ancient and holy.
By comparing God’s hair to wool, the passage emphasizes textured locks. This texture echoes descriptions of other figures like Samson. As with other biblical refs, God’s locks symbolize divine power, wisdom, and separation.
This description propagated the image of God as an old man with a long white beard. But viewed through a black cultural lens, God having hair “like wool” implies sacred dreadlocked hair.
Cultural Symbolism of Dreadlocked Hair
Stepping back, wearing dreadlocked hair held great symbolic significance in biblical cultures. Egyptian, Hebrew, and Nazirite contexts all valued dreadlocked hair for its cultural and spiritual meanings.
- Membership in a religious community
- Separation for spiritual devotion
- Piety, wisdom, and closeness with God
- Connection with ethnic identity and tradition
- High social status and ranking
Biblical figures would value these associations. Figures like Samson and Joseph expressed their calling and devotion through locked hairstyles. Their locs demonstrated their set apart status in service to God.
This parallels how modern believers wear dreadlocked hair. Rastafarians, African Hebrew Israelites, and Christians with locs affirm their faith through hair. Creative expression through locs weaves together identity and spirituality.
Examining relevant biblical texts reveals that important figures like Samson, Joseph, and God himself may have had dreadlocked hair. In various cultural contexts, from Hebrew to African to divine realms, locs carried potent social and spiritual symbolism. Figures wore locs to represent their vows, status, and connection with God.
While the bible does not explicitly use the term “dreadlocks,” clues point to early Nazirites, Egyptians, and God wearing textured, uncut hairstyles. These locked strands held deep meaning. Loc hairstyles allowed biblical figures to manifest inward realities – like devotion, calling, and holiness – through their outward appearance.
This connects to modern practices of wearing locs for religious reasons. For Rastafarians and other spiritual communities, dreadlocked hair retains deep biblical echoes. Loc hairstyles continue to allow believers to embody their faith visually in hair untouched by razors, allowed to mat into locks. Through their locs, modern Christians can still represent sacred calling, identity, and beliefs.