fas: In Hebrew the translation of three expressions: (1) panim (2) `ayin, literally, "eye" and (3) 'aph, literally, "nose," "nostril," already noted under the word COUNTENANCE, which see. The first and second of these words are used synonymously, even in metaphorical expressions, as, e.g. in the phrase "the face of the earth," where panim is used (De 6:15 et passim) and `ayin (Nu 22:5 et passim). The third expression preserves more clearly its original meaning. It is generally used in the phrases "to bow one's self to the earth," "to fall on one's face," where the nose actually touched the ground. Often "my face," "thy face" is mere oriental circumlocution for the personal pronoun "I," "me," "thou," "thee." "In thy face" means "in thy presence;" and is often so translated. A very large number of idiomatic Hebrew expressions have been introduced into our language through the medium of the Bible translation. We notice the most important of these phrases.
"To seek the face" is to seek an audience with a prince or with God, to seek favor (Ps 24:6; 27:8 bis; Ps 105:4; Pr 7:15; Ho 5:15; compare Pr 29:26, where the Revised Version (British and American) translates "Many seek the ruler's favor," literally, many seek the face (Hebrew pene) of a ruler).
If God "hides his face" He withdraws His presence, His favor (De 32:20; Job 34:29; Ps 13:1; 30:7; 143:7; Isa 54:8; Jer 33:5; Eze 39:23,14; Mic 3:4). Such withdrawal of the presence of God is to be understood as a consequence of man's personal disobedience, not as a wrathful denial of God's favor (Isa 59:2). God is asked to "hide his face," i.e. to disregard or overlook (Ps 51:9; compare Ps 10:11). This is also the idea of the prayer: "Cast me not away from thy presence" (literally, "face," Ps 51:11), and of the promise: "The upright shall dwell in thy presence" (literally, "face," Ps 140:13). If used of men, "to hide the face" expresses humility and reverence before an exalted presence (Ex 3:6; Isa 6:2); similarly Elijah "wrapped his face in his mantle" when God passed by (1Ki 19:13). The "covering of the face" is a sign of mourning (2Sa 19:4 = Eze 12:6,12); a "face covered with fatness" is synonymous with prosperity and arrogance (Job 15:27); to have one's face covered by another person is a sign of hopeless doom, as if one were already dead. This was done to Human, when judgment had been pronounced over him (Es 7:8).
"To turn away one's face" is a sign of insulting indifference or contempt (2Ch 29:6; Eze 14:6; Sirach 4:4; compare Jer 2:27; 18:17; 32:33); on the part of God an averted face is synonymous with rejection (Ps 13:1; 27:9; 88:14).
"To harden the face" means to harden one's self against any sort of appeal (Pr 21:29; Isa 50:7; Jer 5:3; compare Eze 3:9).
See also SPIT.
In this connection we also mention the phrase "to respect persons," literally, to "recognize the face" (Le 19:15, or, slightly different in expression, De 1:17; 16:19; Pr 24:1-34; 23:1-35; 28:21), in the sense of unjustly favoring a person, or requiting him with undue evil. Compare also the Hebrew hadhar (Ex 23:3 the King James Version), "to countenance" (see under the word).
The "showbread" meant literally, "bread of the face," "of the presence," Hebrew lechem panim; Greek artoi enopioi, artoi tes protheseos.
H. L. E. Luering