Partial or complete inability to hear, often caused by disease, accident, or loud noise, either intense and sudden or prolonged. In some cases persons are born deaf. Another cause of deafness mentioned in the Bible is demon possession. (Mr 9:25-29) The root of the Hebrew term che·reshʹ (‘deaf one’; Isa 35:5) refers to either deafness on the part of the object or silence on the part of the subject and is variously rendered “be [or become] deaf” and “keep silent.”—Ps 28:1; 35:22, ftn; 50:3, ftn; Mic 7:16.
Jehovah, the Creator of the ear (Pr 20:12), required his people to show consideration for the deaf. The Israelites were not to ridicule or call down evil upon deaf persons, for the deaf could not defend themselves against statements they could not hear.—Le 19:14; compare Ps 38:13, 14.
The words at Exodus 4:11, where Jehovah refers to himself as ‘appointing the deaf,’ do not mean that he is responsible for all cases of deafness. However, Jehovah can cause a person to become literally deaf, unable to speak, or blind for a particular reason or purpose. The father of John the Baptizer was temporarily made speechless because of not believing. (Lu 1:18-22, 62-64) God can also “appoint” persons to be spiritually deaf by allowing them to remain in that state if they so choose.—Compare Isa 6:9, 10.
Jesus Christ, during his ministry, demonstrated miraculous curative powers by restoring the hearing of physically deaf individuals on several occasions. (Mt 11:5; Mr 7:32-37; Lu 7:22) This makes certain that under his rulership over the earth all afflictions, including deafness, will be eliminated.
The psalmist compared the wicked, who refuse to listen to direction, to a cobra that makes itself deaf to the voice of charmers. (Ps 58:3-5) Similarly, in Isaiah’s day, the Israelites, although having ears, were as though deaf because of being slow to listen and respond to Jehovah’s word. (Isa 42:18-20; 43:8) However, after the foretold restoration from exile, God’s people would cease to be deaf spiritually. They would hear the word of Jehovah, that is, pay attention to it. (Isa 29:18; 35:5) Jesus Christ, while on earth, opened many ears of understanding, enabling the cured ones to act upon what they heard.—Mt 13:16, 23.