FaceAid to Bible Understanding
(Ps. 24:6; 27:8, 9; 105:4; Prov. 29:26; Hos. 5:15) The Hebrews spoke of ‘lifting up another’s face,’ thereby meaning to ‘show consideration for’ such one.—1 Sam. 25:35.
To ‘soften another’s face’ indicates an allaying of his anger or a gaining of his favor and goodwill.—Ex. 32:11; Ps. 119:58.
‘Making one’s face to shine’ toward another expresses favor (Num. 6:25; compare Psalm 80:7), and ‘setting a person before one’s face’ denotes favorable attention.—Ps. 41:12; compare Psalm 140:13.
‘Face to face’ may denote intimate association or communication. Thus, Moses was privileged to have such a close relationship with God and be used so powerfully by God that he is referred to as a prophet “whom Jehovah knew face to face.” (Deut. 34:10-12) While it is said that Moses beheld “the appearance of Jehovah,” and that Jehovah spoke to him “mouth to mouth,” yet Moses never saw Jehovah’s face literally. Rather, as the context shows, it was God’s speaking through angelic spokesmen to Moses in open, verbal communication (rather than by visions or dreams) that gave the basis for such expression. (Num. 12:6-8; Ex. 33:20; Gal. 3:19; compare Genesis 32:24-30; Hosea 12:3, 4.) Moses recalled to Israel that God spoke “face to face” with them, since they heard the loud voice at Sinai, though none of them actually saw Jehovah.—Deut. 5:4; 4:11-15; Heb. 12:19.
By contrast, Jesus, in his prehuman existence, had personally been with the Father and he pointed out that angels, spirit sons of God, also behold the “face” of God, serving in his heavenly courts. (John 1:18; 8:57, 58; Matt. 18:10; compare Luke 1:19.) So, too, those called to be joint heirs with Christ in the heavens, in due time, see Jehovah God.—1 John 3:1-3.
Comparing the understanding of God’s purpose that the early Christian congregation had with the fuller understanding to be had in the latter days, the time of the congregation’s maturity, the apostle Paul said: “For at present we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face to face.”—1 Cor. 13:12; compare 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6.
To say or do anything ‘to one’s face’ indicates directness, an open confrontation (Deut. 7:10; Job 21:31), and, in an unfavorable sense, may imply audacity and disrespect. (Job 1:11; Isa. 65:3) A related expression is ‘the rebuke of the face.’—Ps. 80:16.
To ‘set or direct one’s face’ has the sense of looking toward some goal, purpose or desire (Gen. 31:21; 1 Ki. 2:15; 2 Ki. 12:17), and carries the thought of strong intention and determination. (2 Chron. 20:3; Dan. 11:16-19; Luke 9:51-53) Daniel ‘set his face to Jehovah’ in that he earnestly sought him, looking to him for help. (Dan. 9:3; compare 2 Corinthians 1:11.) Strong determination is often reflected in the countenance by the firm set of the lips and jaw, and the steadiness of the gaze. Isaiah ‘set his face like a flint’ in his determination not to let enemy attempts turn him from his assigned ministry. (Isa. 50:7) Rebellious Judeans “made their faces harder than a crag” in their obstinacy and refusal to accept correction. (Jer. 5:3) On the other hand, Jehovah’s ‘setting his face against’ the violators of his righteous law meant their rejection and condemnation, resulting in calamity or death.—Lev. 17:10; 20:3-6; Jer. 21:10; compare 1 Peter 3:12.
To ‘conceal the face’ has a variety of meanings, depending on the circumstance. Jehovah God’s concealing his face often signifies a withdrawal of his favor or sustaining power. This may be as a consequence of the disobedience of the individual or body of persons involved, such as the nation of Israel. (Job 34:29; Ps. 30:5-8; Isa. 54:8; 59:2) In some cases it may denote that Jehovah refrains from revealing himself by action or reply, awaiting his own due time. (Ps. 13:1-3) David’s request, “Conceal your face from my sins,” petitioned God to pardon or set aside such transgressions.—Ps. 51:9; compare 10:11.
The concealing or covering of the face by a human or an angel may express humility or reverential fear and respect. (Ex. 3:6; 1 Ki. 19:13; Isa. 6:2) It may also be a sign of mourning. (2 Sam. 19:4) By contrast, Eliphaz falsely intimated that Job’s prosperity had made him arrogant, so that, in effect, he was ‘covering his face with his fattiness.’ (Job 15:27) As in Haman’s case, for another to cover one’s face could represent shamefulness and possibly doom.—Esther 7:8; compare Psalm 44:15; Jeremiah 51:51.
‘Turning the face away’ may display insulting indifference or contempt. (2 Chron. 29:6; Jer. 2:27; 32:33) God manifests his disdain for those who reject his counsel by showing them “the back, and not the face,” in their day of disaster.—Jer. 18:17.
To ‘spit in the face’ of another was a particularly significant act of reproach or humiliation.—Num. 12:14; Deut. 25:9; Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67.
ONE’S PERSON, OR PRESENCE
Since the face is the most distinctive part of a person, identifying him more than any other feature of the body as well as being most expressive of his personality, the word “face” at times was used metonymously for one’s own person or self. See, for example, 2 Samuel 7:9; 17:11 and Acts 3:19, where the expressions “before you” (in the phrase “from before you”), “your own person,” and “person” come from the original Hebrew or Greek words for “your face” or “face.” In other cases the “face” may refer to the person’s presence, as at Acts 3:13.
The “showbread” of the tabernacle is literally called “the bread of faces” in Hebrew (Ex. 25:30), that is, it was the bread of Jehovah’s presence. This expression emphasized his closeness to the people as represented in the sanctuary.
OTHER USAGES AND TERMS
The Greek term for “face” at times denotes the appearance a person presents, as by reason of wealth or poverty, high rank or lowly position, and similar things.—Matt. 22:16; 2 Cor. 5:12; Gal. 2:6.
ʼAph (Heb.), literally, “nose,” “nostrils” (dual), where translated “face,” usually has reference to the literal physical face, and appears often where an individual is bowing, inasmuch as the ancient custom was to bow with the nose touching the ground.—Gen. 19:1; 1 Sam. 20:41; 1 Ki. 1:23.
ʼAʹyin (Heb.), “eye,” is used in the sense of “aspect” or what is viewed by the eye, such as the earth’s “face” or surface (Ex. 10:5, 15; Num. 22:5, 11), or in speaking of Jehovah as appearing to his people, figuratively, “face to face.”—Num. 14:14.
Fair HavensAid to Bible Understanding
A harbor near the city of Lasea identified with the bay on the S coast of Crete that still bears the same name in modern Greek, Kalous Limionas. (Acts 27:7, 8) This bay is located about five miles (8 kilometers) E of Cape Matala, the southernmost point of Crete.
In 58 C.E. the apostle Paul, as a prisoner, was sailing from Myra (on the southern coast of Asia Minor) via Cnidus en route to Rome. The more direct way from Cnidus to Rome would have been to the N of Crete. But evidently adverse winds, probably from the NW, forced the mariners to take a southerly course from Cnidus to Crete and then sail under the shelter of the island’s S coast, finally reaching Fair Havens with difficulty.—Acts 27:5-8.
When consideration was given to leaving Fair Havens “considerable time had passed,” perhaps in waiting there for the wind to abate or due to the slow and difficult journey. It was already past the atonement day fast (late September or early October) and hence navigation was hazardous.—Acts 27:9.
Paul, who had often been in dangers at sea and had personally experienced at least three previous shipwrecks (2 Cor. 11:25, 26), wisely recommended that the boat winter at Fair Havens. (Whether his advice was inspired on this occasion is not revealed in the account.) However, the army officer, evidently