Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun θριξ (thrix) means a hair (of a human, sheep, pig, and so on). In Homer, this word occurs only in plural, but later writers used the singular to denote one's whole head of hair. In Greek literature, the hair was often deployed to symbolize little significance, strength or value, and the proverbial width of a hair signified a tiny distance.
The Hebrew word for hair, namely שער (se'ir), is part of a cluster of words that all have to do with intense emotions and fear, which suggests that a single hair symbolized a single retained memory (Matthew 5:36, 10:30), and a head of white hair (Revelation 1:14) signified someone whose retained memories are of such a broad pallet that the whole of them adds up to a unified white. It's an admitted long shot, but the origin of our noun is obscure yet bears an obvious resemblance to the cardinal number τρεις (treis), meaning three. The familiar trident of many a god of subconsciousness (Shiva, Poseidon, Aquaman) may have to do with color vision, which did wonders for the development of consciousness in natural creatures.
Our noun θριξ (thrix), hair, is used 15 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- The adjective τριχινος (trichinos), meaning hairen, or made of hair, a relatively rare but not unusual word that described clothing made from hair (wool) rather than leather or some other material. It occurs in the New Testament only in Revelation 6:12 only, in the enigmatic statement of the sun becoming black as hairen sackcloth — obviously descriptive of a joyless mind rather than some woolen bag.
The noun κομη (kome) means hair in the sense of one's head of hair, coiffure and even beard: one's hairdo. It's unclear where this word comes from, but an excellent candidate is the verb κομεω (komeo), meaning to care of (see below), which in turn may have to do with κοπετος (kopetos), which describes a massive emotional reaction, from the verb κοπτω (kopto), to strike.
In the classics as in the New Testament, this word applies only to human hair (or even a wig), but could also be used figuratively to describe tentacles of fish, foliage of trees, and even the tail of a comet. It's used in 1 Corinthians 11:15 only, and from it derives:
- The verb κομαω (komao), meaning to grow and cultivate an elaborate hairdo. This verb occurs in 1 Corinthians 11:14 and 11:15 only, where Paul submits that nature teaches that a man should have short hair and a woman long. It's is a bit of a mystery what Paul meant with that since nature gives long hair to both men and women. But perhaps Paul utilized the Hebrew senses of both hair (namely that of retained memory), and that of the genders (in Hebrew, masculinity is the tendency to be an individual, whereas femininity is the tendency to be collective), which suggests that Paul meant to say that cultures should cherish their very long memories whereas individuals should not take in account a wrong suffered and be eager to move on. Here at Abarim Publications we don't have the answers either, but we've pondered the hair-aspect of this issue somewhat in an article on Hair in the Bible (this article is from 2008, when we still had hair ourselves).
The verb κομεω (komeo) means to take care of or tend, and in the classics applies to horses, men and children. It's not used in the New Testament but from it derive:
- Together with the noun γλωσσα (glossa), tongue (or reed of musical instruments): the noun γλωσσοκομον (glossokomon), which may have denoted a box in which reeds were stored, but which also may have described a medical instrument of some sort. It was an attribute of Judas Iscariot (John 12:6 and 13:29 only).
- The verb κομιζω (komizo), meaning to take care of, to carefully carry, to carry within oneself and hence to receive within oneself or within one's care. This verb is used 11 times; see full concordance, and from it in turn derive: