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So David's son had some pretty awesome hair:

2 Samuel 14:25-26 ESV Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king's weight.

200 shekels is about 5 pounds. That's crazy. It's also crazy that Absalom could get suspended from tree branches by his hair apparently long enough for Joab to have a conversation and then kill him.

2 Samuel 18:9,14 ESV And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on ... Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.

Is this possible? Can hair get that heavy and strong? This has bothered me for a while because I've wondered if this could be some figure of speech even though it's written so plainly.

I feel like the best and most obvious way to answer this would be to just find someone with equivalent hair structure. Whether through an article or picture or anything else.

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closed as off-topic by maj nem ɪz dæn, David Stratton Aug 1 at 0:14

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It's quite speculative, but he may have had localized hypertrichosis. –  bruised reed Jul 31 at 14:09
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I love crazy, interesting questions +1. –  gideon marx Jul 31 at 17:44
    
I'm going to vote to leave this open because the answer is good. Still technically off-topic, but I like it anyway. –  fredsbend Jul 31 at 21:49
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I take it we're discounting the possibility of poetic expression and insisting on a hyper -literal view here. –  David Stratton Jul 31 at 22:50
    
A lot of my friends are hippies with dreadlocks, I've seen people with more than 5lbs of hair for sure. There's some speculation as to whether Nazarites like Sampson and John the Baptist wore dreadlocks, there is a reference in Judges to Sampson having "7 Locks of hair," though locks could mean braids. –  Andrew Aug 1 at 3:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Healthy human hair can absorb 30% of its weight in water. This gal's hair weighs 25lbs when wet.

This analysis by a skeptic offers some details about average human hair. (Read the comments, too.) According to his calculations, 29 years' growth of hair (for an "average" human) could weigh that much. If Absalom was indeed unusually locked, his numbers could be even smaller.

On a side note, one human hair can support 3.5 oz, so, if the average person has 100K hairs, it wouldn't be too much for Absalom's to get tangled in a tree and hold him off the ground.

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It's worth mentioning that it would not be entirely unheard of for someone of royalty to use some sort of hair product (such as fragrant oils, since bathing was less frequent back then), which could, as you mentioned, add considerable weight. –  Steven Doggart Jul 31 at 14:50
    
Lovely answer +1. –  gideon marx Jul 31 at 17:44

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