Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of scholarly interest in the relationship between culture and the body. One topic that has emerged is the role of hair in the presentation of the body. Hair plays an integral and intricate role in the way human beings represent and identifythemselves. The way we treat our hair has to do with aesthetics, social structure, religious identity, and a host of other aspects of culture. In societies both modern and ancient, the hairdo is one of the keys to a group's cultural code. In the traditions of ancient Israel, hair relates toimportant aspects of identity concerning gender, ethnicity, and holiness. In this book, Susan Niditch seeks a deeper understanding of Israelite culture as expressed, shaped, and reinforced in images of hair - a complex symbol drawn from the body. Among the examples she considers is the tradition'smost famous long-haired hero, Samson. The hair that assures Samson's strength is a common folktale motif, but it also represents his ritual consecration as a Nazirite. Niditch examines the meaning of the Nazirite status - held by Samuel and Elisha as well as Samson - in detail, arguing that longhair is involved in a complex set of cultural assumptions about men, warrior status, and divine election. In addition to the biblical texts, Niditch looks at pictorial representations of hair and other material evidence. Her final chapter turns to the troubling passages in which men impose haircutting or loosening upon women which, she argues, reveal much about attitudes to women and the place of women in Israelite culture.