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Easton's Bible Dictionary


Jezebel "painted her face" (2Ki 9:30); and the practice of painting the face and the eyes seems to have been common (Jer 4:30; Eze 23:40). An allusion to this practice is found in the name of Job's daughter (Job 42:14) Kerenhappuch (q.v.). Paintings in the modern sense of the word were unknown to the ancient Jews.

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


pant (from Old French peinctre, frequentative of peindre, Latin pingo, "to paint"):

(1) From Hebrew verb mashach, "to smear," "to anoint," "to paint," describing the painting of interiors with vermilion, perhaps resembling lacquer: "ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion" (Jer 22:14). The shields of the Ninevite soldiers were red, presumably painted (Na 2:3).

(2) From noun pukh, "paint," "antimon," "stibium," "black mineral powder" used as a cosmetic, to lend artificial size and fancied beauty to the eye, always spoken of as a meretricious device, indicating light or unworthy character. Jezebel "painted her eyes, and attired her head" (2Ki 9:30, literally, "put pukh into her eyes"). To the harlot city Jerusalem, Jeremiah (4:30) says, "deckest thee...., enlargest thine eyes with paint" (pukh). the King James Version renders "rentest thy face," as if the stain were a cut, or the enlarging done by violence.

(3) From verb kachal, "to smear," "to paint." Ezekiel says to Oholah-Oholibah (Judah-Israel), "didst wash thyself, paint (kachal) thine eyes," as the adulteress prepares herself for her paramour (Eze 23:40). The antimony, in an extremely fine powder (Arabic kuchl, from kachal), is placed in the eye by means of a very fine rod, bodkin, or probe, drawn between the edges of the eyelids. This distends the eye, and also increases its apparent size, the effect being increased by a line of stain drawn from the corner, and by a similar line prolonging the eyebrow.

Written by Philip Wendell Crannell



Smith's Bible Dictionary


(as a cosmetic.) The use of cosmetic dyes has prevailed in all ages in eastern countries. We have abundant evidence of the practice of painting the eyes both in ancient Egypt and in Assyria; and in modern times no usage is more general. It does not appear, however, to have been by any means universal among the Hebrews. The notices of it are few; and in each instance it seems to have been used as a meretricious art, unworthy of a woman of high character. The Bible gives no indication of the substance out of which the dye was formed. The old versions agree in pronouncing the dye to have been produced from antimony. Antimony is still used for the purpose in Arabia and in Persia, but in Egypt the kohl is a root produced by burning either a kind of frankincense or the shells of almonds. The dye‐stuff was moistened with oil and kept in a small jar. Whether the custom of staining the hands and feet, particularly the nails, now so prevalent in the past, was known to the Hebrews is doubtful. Painting as an art was not cultivated by the Hebrews, but they decorated their buildings with paint.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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