What did the people talked about in the Bible look like?
The Bible does not go into much detail regarding the physical appearances of the people it talks about. Many of the central figures were from the Mid-East, so we assume they had features characteristic of Middle Eastern descent, such as olive-toned skin, dark hair, and dark eyes.
Some general descriptions of a few people are given. For example, some women are described as "very beautiful" such as Sarah, Rebekah, Bathsheba, Abishaq, Tamar, Vashti, and Esther. In Genesis 29:17, Rachel is described as "beautiful in form and appearance" and her sister Leah was described as having weak eyes. We are told that Esau was red and hairy at birth (Genesis 25:25). Samson had long hair and strength (Judges 16:17). Absalom also had long hair (2 Samuel 14:26). King Saul was tall (1 Samuel 10:23). David "was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome" (1 Samuel 16:12). Zacchaeus was short, which explains why he had to climb a tree to see Jesus in a crowd (Luke 19:1–10).
As for Jesus, the central Person of the Bible, Isaiah foretells that "… he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). There is real reason for this. If we knew was Jesus looked like, in our human nature we would idolize His features, His physical appearance, His look. Instead of wanting to become like Him in character, we would strive to look like Him physically. We would also tend to want to worship or idolize images of Him, instead of Him. Even without knowing what He looked like, we create images of Him to focus upon because we tend to focus on external features rather than internal character.
When Samuel was sent to anoint David as king, he first thought that Eliab, one of David's brothers, would be the anointed. But God told Samuel, "… Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Proverbs 31:30 tells us "beauty is fleeting" (NIV). First Peter 3:3–4 says, "Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." Isaiah 57:15 says God dwells "… in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite." Second Corinthians 5:7 tells us we "walk by faith, not by sight." Over and over, the Bible emphasizes that God is most interested in our hearts and the state of our spirit. When the physical details were necessary to convey a narrative or other biblical point, God shared them. Otherwise we know much more about who people were and what they did than about what they looked like.
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