2 KINGS 1:8  


2Kings 1:8

There are many reputable authorities that view Elijah's "hairiness" as a reference to his garment or the mantle that is mentioned in 2kings 2:8 and 1 Kings 19:13, 19.
The men or rather (probably) the spokesman who reported to Ahaziah simply described what was seen as making a visible impact on them. It seems that there would be many men who were visibly hairy on arms and legs. This would not make an impact. But a unique garment of animal hair would make an impact on the observer.
Now unless Elijah was wearing a minimum of garments there is no way to determine for certain whether he is actually "a hairy man." It certainly would not characterize a beard since "everyone" sported a beard.
Of course, since the leather girdle MIGHT imply a minimum amount of clothing, then "hairy" legs and/or arms would certainly be visible. And yet, as mentioned, "hairy" men would probably not be uncommon.
It is interesting that the Hebrew construction here simply says, "a man of owner of hair (characterized by hair). A rare use of the word baal (lord, master, owner). Thus, ish (man of) baal (owner of) sear (hair).
True, it could refer to real hair all over his body, but it could also characterize his appearance if he was wearing a large HAIRY cloak.
Ahaziah was pretty certain after hearing this description that this was the prophet, Elijah.
It is a safe assumption that there would be many men who were hairy all over their body (arms and legs). This would not necessarily get any one's attention. So it seems that Ahaziah recognizes Elijah based on a familiar hairy garment.
It was a characteristic GARMENT of  prophets as is seen at Zech. 13:4. The false prophets in view will put on the hairy garment in order to present themselves to the people as bona fide prophets, thus deceiving them into listening.
There is significant symbolism involved with the hairy garment, and even the leather girdle. It did not HAVE to be worn for ascetic reasons, but was a symbol of the harsh message of judgment that would come on the nation if they did not recover from their spiritual and moral errors.
When the man describes Elijah as "characterized" by hair and wearing a leather girdle, the king would probably picture the characteristic garment of the prophet, and make the correct guess that it was Elijah.
At Matthew 3:4 (Mark 1:5) John the dipper's garment of camel hair and leather belt (girdle) would certainly provide an IMMEDIATE reminder to the Jews of what they knew of Elijah's attire, and make the prophetic connection between John and Elijah much more concrete and impacting.
And John's message, quoting Isaiah would (or rather SHOULD) remind the Jews of Malachi's prophecy, that Yahweh's messenger will "prepare the way before Me." Mal. 3:1a; 4:5-6.
And of course, it would make a strong impact on the disciples as well.

Heb. 11:37 might be telling us that the characteristic garb of the prophets was some kind of garment of hair ("sheepskins, goatskins") - although camel is not mentioned.
"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented."
However, context suggests that this is a reference to general deprivation and limited clothing options.
It also might simply indicate a convenient attire for desert and wilderness wandering, which the persecuted believers were forced into.



Questions and comments are always welcome

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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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