The Beautiful People of the Bible

In his study of 1 Samuel 25, “Ancestral Motifs in 1 Samuel 25: Intertextuality and Characterization,” Journal of Biblical Literature 121 (2002), p. 627, Mark E. Biddle wrote: “Hebrew narrative does not often describe people of either gender in terms of their physical beauty.”

Although narrative texts do not offer much detail about the physical characteristics of individuals, the biblical writers declare that several people were either beautiful, handsome, good-looking, and had other attributes that express human beauty.

This characterization of individuals is not unique to the Hebrew Bible.  For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of the “beauty of Gilgamesh” (VI:6). Zenobia, the Queen of the East,” who ruled in the ancient city of Palmyra, was know for her incredible beauty. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of beauty.

Below is a list of the beautiful people of the Bible. The list, however, does not include much detail about the physical characteristics of the men and women who were called beautiful by the biblical writers.  Maybe each one of these individuals should be studied in detail.  This study would reveal that most of the beautiful people of the Bible were either kings, queens, or descendants of royalty.

These are the beautiful people of the Bible.

Women

Sarah

“When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance’” (Gen. 12:11).

Rachel

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful and lovely” (Gen. 29:17).

Tamar, Absalom’s Sister

“David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar” (2 Sam. 13:1).

Tamar, Absalom’s Daughter

“There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman” (2 Sam. 14:27).

Bathsheba

“It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman [Bathsheba] bathing; the woman was very beautiful” (2 Sam. 11:2).

Abigail

“The man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name, Abigail. The woman was intelligent and beautiful” (1 Sam. 25:3).

Abishag the Shunammite

“So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king” (1 Kings 1:3).

Vasti, Queen of Persia

“King Ahasuerus . . . commanded . . . the seven eunuchs who attended him to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful” (Esth. 1:10-11).

Job’s Daughters

“In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters”(Job 42:15).

The Royal Princess (Jezebel? See here)

“Then the King will desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him” (Psa. 45:11).

The Beloved

“I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon” (Song 1:5).

Esther

“Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she didn’t have a father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking” (Esth. 2:7).

Kings

Saul
“ [Kish] had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else” (1 Sam. 9:2).

David

“One of the attendants spoke up, ‘I have observed a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilled in music; he is a stalwart fellow and a warrior, sensible in speech, and handsome in appearance, and the LORD is with him’” (1 Sam. 16:18).

Ahab? (See here).

“You are the most handsome of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever” (Psa. 45:2).

The King of Tyre

“Son of man, lament for the king of Tyre and say to him: This is what the Lord GOD says: ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty’” (Ezek. 28:12).

The Messianic King

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty” (Isa. 33:17).

Other Individuals

Moses

“Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he [Moses] was beautiful, she hid him for three months” (Exod. 2:1-2).

Joseph

“Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking” (Gen. 39:6).

Eliab, David’s Brother

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart’” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Absalom, David’s Son

“Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25).

Adonijah, David’s Son

“Neither did his father rebuke him at any time, saying: Why hast thou done this? And he also was very beautiful, the next in birth after Absalom” (1 Kings 1:6).

A brief survey of the beautiful people of the Bible will reveal that out of the twenty-two people mentioned in this list, fifteen of them are either directly or indirectly associated with the royal household.  They are either kings or queens, or wives, sons, or daughters of kings.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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6 Responses to The Beautiful People of the Bible

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing! Also, I was excited to see you cited Mark Biddle. He was my OT prof at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. I find it interesting that beauty in scripture seems to be connected with people of wealth and/or influence. Ecclesiastes is right-nothing new under the sun.

    Like

    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Jonathan,

      Thank you for your comment. I think Mark is a good scholar and I like reading his work. You are right: it seems that the rich and famous are the better looking people after all. We have to agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  2. Wellington King says:

    Might Eliab’s “appearance” have been not one of handsomeness or beauty but of tough, rugged manliness? Does the text require that he be handsome or beautiful?

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  3. Pingback: Beautiful People in the Bible [part 2] | Beauties over Beasts

  4. Pingback: Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder Bible | beauty nr

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