Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

A List of the Beautiful People in the Hebrew Bible

Here is a list of the 9+ men and 15+ women described as beautiful (masculine: yāp̄eh; feminine: yāp̄āh), or good looking (masculine: ṭōwḇ; feminine: ṭōwḇaṯ), or something similar in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). I’ve provided this list as a quick resource.

Human Daughters
Genesis 6:2
good [looking]
ṭōḇōṯ
טֹבֹ֖ת

Sarah
Genesis 12:11
beautiful in looks
yəp̄aṯ-  mar’eh
יְפַת־מַרְאֶ֖ה

Genesis 12:14
that beautiful she was very
kî- yāp̄āh hî mə’ōḏ
כִּֽי־יָפָ֥ה הִ֖וא מְאֹֽד

Rebekah
Genesis 24:16
that good looking very
kî- ṭōwḇaṯ  mar’eh mə’ōḏ,
כִּֽי־יָפָ֥ה הִ֖וא מְאֹֽד

Rachel
Genesis 29:17
beautiful in form and beautiful in looks
yəp̄aṯ-  tō’ar  wîp̄aṯ  mar’eh
יְפַת־תֹּ֖אַר וִיפַ֥ת מַרְאֶֽה

Joseph
Genesis 39:6
Beautiful in form and beautiful in looks
yəp̄êh-  ṯō’ar  wîp̄êh  mar’eh
יְפֵה־תֹ֖אַר וִיפֵ֥ה מַרְאֶֽה

Moses
Exodus 2:2
good [looking]
ṭōwḇ
ט֣וֹב

Samson’s SIster-in-law
Judges 15:2
[more] good [looking]
ṭōwḇāh
טֹובָ֣ה

Saul
1 Samuel 9:2
and good [looking] … good [looking]
wāṭōwḇ … ṭōwḇ

David
1 Samuel 16:12
beautiful eyes and good looking
yəp̄êh  ‘ênayim  wəṭōwḇ  rō’î

1 Samuel 16:18
and a man with a fine figure
wə’îš  tō’ar

1 Samuel 17:42
beautiful in looks
yəp̄êh  mar’eh

Abigail
1 Samuel 25:3
Beautiful in form
wîp̄aṯ  tō’ar
More on Abigail here.

Bathsheba
2 Samuel 11:2
good looking
ṭōwḇaṯ mar’eh
More on Bathsheba here

Tamar (Daughter of David and sister of Absalom)
2 Samuel 13:1
beautiful
yāp̄āh

Absalom (Son of David)
2 Samuel 14:25
Absalom is especially praised for his good looks:
“Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his beauty (yāp̄eh). From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25).

Tamar (Absalom’s daughter)
2 Samuel 14:27
beautiful in looks
yəp̄aṯ-  mar’eh

Abishag (David’s Nurse)
1 Kings 1:3-4
beautiful … beautiful very
yāp̄āh … yāp̄āh  mə’ōḏ

Adonijah (Son of David)
1 Kings 1:6
good looking very
ṭōwḇ  tō’ar  mə’ōḏ

Vashti
Esther 1:11
The king wanted to “show off her beauty (yāp̄əyāh) because she was good looking (ṭōwḇaṯ mar’eh).”
More on Vashti here.

Girls for Xerxes Harem
Esther 2:2
good looking
ṭōwḇōwṯ  mar’eh.
More on these girls here.

Esther
Esther 2:7
beautiful in form and good looking
yəp̄aṯ  tō’ar  wəṭōwḇaṯ  mar’eh
More on Esther here.

Job’s Daughters
Job 42:15
beautiful
yāp̄ōwṯ

The Lovers
In Songs, the man is called beautiful (masculine: yāp̄eh) in Songs 1:16. The woman is called beautiful (feminine: yāp̄āh) in Songs 1:8, 15; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:9; 6:1, 4, 10; 7:1.

Daniel and other Jewish men chosen for Persian training
Daniel 1:3-7, 4.
and good looking
wəṭōwḇê  mar’eh

King of Tyre
Ezekiel 28:12
perfect in beauty
ūḵəlîl  yōp̄î

See also Psalm 45:2 and 45:11, and Isaiah 33:17 which is about the Messiah.

More than Skin Deep?

In the Hebrew Bible, beauty was a desirable quality in men and in women. But was there something more behind the idea of being beautiful than just superficial appearances?

For some, like Moses and Saul, their good looks apparently signified that they were special. For others, like Joseph and Esther, being beautiful is an important element of their stories. For still others, their outward beauty may also have been an indication of character.

In some societies in the ancient world, a person’s looks was thought to indicate character traits. We do this a bit too (e.g., “beady eyes”). However, people are seldom described by their looks in the Hebrew Bible, one way or the other, so I have doubts the Israelites did this.

Note also that several people on the list are royalty and attached to David’s family.

What seems obvious is that, like today, natural good looks were considered an advantage from a human perspective. However, quite a few of the beautiful people on this list were taken advantage of and exploited, even abused.

Thankfully, God does not operate like us. “Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7b CSB.

Related Article: Beauty, Marriage, Motherhood, and Ministry

 

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