The Woman’s Head Covering, 

what the Scriptures have to say…

Written by Diane Bills 2020

 

   I will start this article off by saying that I have prayed and asked the Father for help in putting all of this information together in a teaching to help assist women in their understanding of the head covering passage of Scripture. And, I believe He has answered my prayer by doing just that. Many don’t know about and have never even heard of it. After many, many, many countless hours (no exaggeration whatsoever) of searching the Scriptures and doing extra biblical research, and typing and tweaking in preparing this work, I have arrived at the completion of what I consider to be a work that, not only will help other sisters, but has also without a doubt, assisted me in grasping a better understanding of certain areas of this subject, specifically if I personally, as YHWH’s daughter, am commanded to wear a head covering.

     In this article, we will be studying a passage of Scripture in the Apostolic Writings (New Testament) from a chapter that, from what I’ve noticed, seems to only be used for the second part of the chapter for teaching on the Master’s Supper. The passage we will be studying is 1Corinthians chapter 11. We will be studying the first half of that chapter specifically in regards to women wearing head coverings. I may do a later work on the topic of men’s head coverings, but for now, this study is only regarding the women’s head covering.

     Using a few verses at a time, we will look at key words to get a better understanding from the original meaning what these specific Scriptures, at the time they were being written by the Apostle Paul, were conveying to the Corinthian ekklesia (called out ones) and be able to arrive at the proper biblical interpretation of this passage. Once we have arrived at the proper conclusion, we will also be able to determine if this letter was written only for the ekklesia in Corinth or if it applies to all of Messiah Yahushua’s ekklesia as a whole. Ok, Let’s get started. The passage in question is as follows:  

Main Passage: 1Corinthians 11:1-16

Main Verses: 11:5-6

11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of the Messiah.

11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is the Messiah; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of the Messiah is YHWH.

11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of YHWH: but the woman is the glory of the man.

11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.

11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in YHWH.

11:12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of YHWH.

11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto YHWH uncovered?

11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the assemblies of YHWH.

 

    Ok. Let’s start with the first 3 verses.

11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of the Messiah.

11:2 Now, I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

11:3 But, I would have you know, that the head of every man is the Messiah; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of the Messiah is YHWH.

 

     In his letter to the Corinthian believers, the Apostle Paul starts out the passage by telling the believers to follow his example as he follows Yeshua the Messiah’s example. Then, in verse 2, he praises them for keeping the ordinances as he had delivered them. From there, he goes into verse 3 referencing the creation order by stating that the Messiah is the head of every man, that the man is the head of the woman, and that YHWH is the head of the Messiah.

     The word head in verse 3 is the Greek word kephale, meaning: the head (as the part most readily taken hold of), literally or figuratively:--head. As we can see, it doesn’t take much thought to see that it is a figurative meaning being applied, since Messiah is not the physical head of the man and the man is not the physical head of the woman.

Now, we get to the specific part about head coverings. Verses 4-6 say,

11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

 

   The word head in verses 4 and 5 is the same Greek word kephale as in verse 3. Now, at this point, we need to determine whether or not it is a literal or figurative meaning for application just as we did for verse 3. But, in order to do that, we need to keep reading for more context. Verse 6 helps with that context. It states that if the woman’s head is not covered, she is to be shorn. The word covered in this verse is the Greek word katakalypto, meaning: to cover wholly, i.e. veil:--cover, hide (to cover up, to veil or cover one’s self).  So, we can conclude then that the word head in verses 4 and 5 are literal heads. The man is not to cover wholly or veil, cover, or hide his literal head and the woman is to cover wholly, veil, cover, or hide her literal head. Verse 4 is saying that if the man were to cover his literal head while praying or prophesying, he would be dishonoring his figurative head, Yeshua the Messiah.

     Ok. So, we see that Paul is specific about when the literal head is to be uncovered for the man and covered for the woman.  It is specifically during praying or prophesying as verse 5 tells us. In reality, praying can be done either in a congregational setting with other believers or in a private setting by ourselves. We will discuss at the end of this study whether this Scripture is saying that the covering is to be done in only a congregational setting or both, congregational and private. So, at this point, we can conclude that the man is not to have his head covered during times of prayer.  And, we can conclude that the woman is not to have her head uncovered during times of prayer.

     But, what about prophesying? Let’s define what prophesying really means in a biblical sense. The word prophesying in verse 4 is the Greek word propheteuo, meaning: to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office:--prophesy (a. universally b. with the idea of foretelling future events pertaining especially to the kingdom of God c. to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation d. to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels: — or, under the like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others e. to act as a prophet, discharge the prophetic office).

     So, we see that not only does prophesying mean what most all of us think of immediately as to the foretelling of future events, but it also means to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise, to teach, refute, reprove, and admonish. These are things that are done with speaking the Scriptures. For myself personally, when I started wearing a head covering, it was only when I prayed. But, as I came to learn that prophesying can also mean to praise, teach, refute, reprove, and admonish, I started wearing a head covering all of the time because I praise the Father at times in an all of a sudden manner while going about my regular daily responsibilities and because I teach my son, Malachi, the Father’s holy Scriptures throughout our daily activities, so that he is learning wisdom by and through the Father’s Word and learning how the Word of YHWH applies to his life through specific times of application, not just times of prayer. I realized very quickly that only having my head covered part of the time wasn’t going to cut it because I was running all over the house looking for one of my head coverings all of the time, which just wasn’t realistic. It was quite ridiculous actually. We will come back to verse 6 a little later to study the words shorn and shaven. The definitions for those words will make more sense once we study verse 15.    

Ok. So, we are at verse 7, which says,

11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of YHWH: but the woman is the glory of the man.

 

     The man is the image and glory of YHWH. He is not to cover YHWH’s glory. Therefore, he is not to cover his head. But, the woman is man’s glory. So, she is to cover her head, covering herself as man’s glory, so that YHWH’s glory is the only glory being revealed when she is praying or prophesying.

 

Verses 8-9:

11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.

11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

 

     The woman was made from the rib of the man, which is a part of him. That appears to be what makes the woman the glory of the man. She was also created to be his help meet as the Scripture tells us in Genesis 2:18, which says, And YHWH Elohim said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. The words help and meet in this verse make a word phrase, which uses the Hebrew word, ezer, from azar meaning aid -- help. So, YHWH tells us that He created the woman as a helper to the man. A helper of what? Well, that would need to be a whole separate study at some time in the future so that we can stay on course with this current study.   

Verse 10:

11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

 

   The word cause in this verse is the Greek word dia, meaning: through, on account of, because of. So, because of the woman being created as a helper for the man, she is to have power on her head. Let’s look at the word power. It is the Greek word exousia, a noun, which means: power to act, authority. Something of interest is that it can also be a sign of regal authority, a crown. This reminded me of Proverbs 12:4, which says, A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. She is her husband’s crown. The word crown in this verse is the Hebrew word atarah, a noun, meaning: a crown. A crown is a sign of glory, of royalty, and of power. Isn’t that interesting. So, does that mean because she is the glory of man, she needs to have a crown of power on her head? That is what the Scripture says. But, why does the woman need to have power on her head because of the angels? What does this mean? I’m still not completely sure. It could just be due to order. The Scripture doesn’t say, It just says because of the angels. But, I was reminded earlier today, as I was thinking about this passage, that the angels cover themselves when in the presence of YHWH.

     We are told this in Ezekiel 1:5-11, Also, out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And, every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. So we see that two of the wings of each of the four creatures covered their bodies.

     The Scripture passage of Isaiah 6:1-2 also mentions seraphims covering themselves, In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also YHWH sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. Is it possible that the angels are looking and seeing whether the women are specifically covering their heads during praying and prophesying? It very well could be, but we don’t know for sure. Scripture doesn’t say why.

     In this exact same letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wrote the following in Chapter 4 verse 9,  For I think that YHWH hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. It looks like he may be referring to the apostles as the spectacles in the context, but they are human just as any other human. So, it’s quite possible that angels look on the human race as spectators. If this is true, going back to the head covering, they would be seeing if women were being obedient to the teaching of covering their heads as well as seeing if the men were obediently not covering theirs.

Onto verses 11 and 12:

11:11 Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in YHWH.

11:12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of YHWH.

 

In verse 11, the word without is the Greek word choris pronounced xōrís, a preposition, also used as an adverb which is probably derived from 5561 /xṓra, "an open or detached space") – properly, apart from, separated ("without"); (figuratively) detached, rendering something invalid or valid. Ok. So, it appears that Scripure is saying here that the man and the woman are not apart or separate from one another. They complement each other.

 

     Verse 12 is saying that the woman was taken from the man, ‘birthed’ if you will, by being formed from his rib. And, the man is likewise birthed (physically) of the woman. Every man comes into this world born from a woman. But, both originated from YHWH. Again, each one complements the other. We can see this especially in a marriage. Unfortunately, I’m not necessarily sure how to compare this to an unmarried man or an unmarried woman. So, is this passage in Corinthians only speaking to husbands and wives? I don’t believe so, since it is stated back in verses 4 and 5, “every” man and “every” woman, respectively. He did not differentiate between married or unmarried. The unmarried woman would, of course, be under the headship of her earthly father, but ultimately Yeshua Messiah (especially, if her earthly father was for some reason not present in her life). 

 

Now, we will take a look at verse 13:

11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto YHWH uncovered?

 

     The word Judge is the Greek word krinó meaning: decree, determine, judge. Properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish -- avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think. We know that the Scripture is not saying for each individual to decide for themselves on whether or not a woman should pray with her head uncovered. Otherwise, why would Paul even bother to spend half a chapter talking about head coverings? If each individual is suppose to decide for his or her self, he doesn’t even need to say anything. Just let them do whatever they want. He is most likely saying ‘to call into question’.

 

     The word comely in the second part of the same verse is the Greek word prepó, a primary verb; to tower up (be conspicuous), i.e. (by implication) to be suitable or proper (third person singular present indicative, often used impersonally, it is fit or right) -- become, comely. Paul is calling into question if it is proper for a woman to pray unto YHWH with an uncovered head. The answer is obviously no, it is not. If it were proper, again, he would not have even needed to bring the subject up. Everyone could just do whatever he or she wanted to do, either cover or uncover his or her head.

 

Ok. Verses 14 and 15:

11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

11:15 But, if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

 

     The word nature in verse 14 is the Greek word phusis (foo'-sis), a noun, from phuo meaning: growth (by germination or expansion), i.e. (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension, a genus or sort; figuratively, native disposition, constitution or usage -- (man-)kind, nature(-al). In this context, the meaning is growth or natural production because it is speaking of hair length. Something of interest, it is a fact that the man’s natural hair production diminishes as he grows older. We typically see this by observing men in society who are bald. They have lost some, most, or all of their hair. Most women do not lose their hair to that extent as they grow older. Many women that do end up losing their hair, it is typically a result of biological issues, disease, the effects of chemotherapy, or other causes. But, what is interesting about those specific times is that all or most of them have an instinct to want to wear a wig or some sort of hat or cloth covering, which is evidence that women consider their hair as their ‘glory’. When there is no hair, they want something to replace it as such. So, we can clearly see by nature, a man’s hair is shorter than a woman’s. It is a possibility that this may have been what Paul was alluding to in verse 14.

 

     During my study of this passage, I encountered the following information regarding the subject of hair growth and hair loss in men and women that may help shed some light on the ‘nature’ of the hair part of this passage:

 

“Hair follicles undergo several phases... hair length is proportional to the duration of the anagen [growth] phase... Estrogens prolong the anagen phase.” (Fima Lifshitz, Pediatric Endocrinology (CRC Press, 2007), 329).

 

The male hormone androgen “shortens the duration of anagen” while estrogen “prolongs anagen” with the result that “a longer anagen phase = longer hair.” (Asra Ali, Dermatology: A Pictorial Review (McGraw Hill Professional, 2007), 3).

 

“The most common type of female hair loss is androgenetic alopecia... It is caused by an excess of male hormones.” (Barbara Seaman, Laura Eldridge, The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause (Simon and Schuster, 2008), 295).

 

     The following two comments go hand in hand regarding baldness: “The best-known example of a sex-influenced gene is the gene for pattern baldness.” (Daniel D. Chiras, Human Biology (Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2013), 380). And, “Geneticists tell us that it takes two genes in a woman to produce baldness, but only one in a man. Some women do get bald, but it is very rare. Here is a natural factor that has been functioning since the race began which does, indeed, display the very thing that Paul declares.” (Ray Stedman, What Is Headship? (December 3, 1978, sermon transcription).

 

     In verse 15, the word covering is the Greek word peribolaion (per-ib-ol'-ah-yon); neuter of a presumed derivative of G4016, something thrown around one, i.e. a mantle, veil:—covering, vesture. This is a different word from the word used for covered in verse 6, katakalypto, which we learned means to cover wholly, i.e. veil:--cover, hide (to cover up, to veil or cover one’s self). Ok. So, the hair, which was given to the woman for her peribolaion (mantle, veil) is to be katakalypto (covered wholly, hidden, covered up). She is to cover up or hide her hair.

 

     At this point, we will go back to study the words shorn and shaven in verse 6 and then be able to wrap this study up.

 

     Going back to verse 6, the word shorn is the Greek word keiro (ki’-ro), a primary verb; to shear -- shear(-er); to shear: a sheep, to get or let be shorn, of shearing or cutting short the hair of the head. This word was used in Acts 18:18 where Paul had shaved his head for a vow that he had made. The word shaven is the Greek word xyrao (xoo-rah-o), from the derivative of the same as 3586 (meaning razor); to shave or shear the hair:-shave.

     Now, we have a better understanding of what the Scriptures are actually speaking in regards to a woman wearing a head covering. Verse 6 is telling us that if the woman does not katakaloopto (cover wholly, ie veil:-cover, hide) her peribolaion (mantle, veil) that was given to her as her physical hair, she is to be keiro (sheared): but if it be a shame for a woman to be keiro (sheared), let her be katakaloopto (covered wholly, ie veil:-cover, hide). The woman is to cover wholly her physical hair. If the covering was the hair, how could she be sheared if she didn’t have any?

     Also, why would it be a shame for a woman to have her head sheared? Well, I did a search of the Scriptures to see if the Father has said anything specific regarding this, but did not find anything. Most of the references about shaving the hair was in reference to men. But, I did find one reference to women. Deuteronomy 21:12 says, Then, thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails… This was in the context of a woman being a captive of war and being brought home to be the wife of one of the men captors.

     The word shave in this verse is the Hebrew word, galach (gaw-lakh'); a primitive root; properly, to be bald, i.e. (causatively) to shave; figuratively to lay waste:—poll, shave (off). She was to shave her head. It was a shameful, dishonoring moment of time for her. This was the only instance in Scripture that referenced a woman in regards to having her hair sheared. So, is this what Paul was alluding to about it being a shame or dishonor for a woman to have her head shorn or shaven? It is a very good possibility, considering he knew the Torah frontwards and backwards. It actually appears that way, considering it seems to fit. And, it would definitely be something the congregations would have known about because they would hear the book of Deuteronomy being preached according to Acts 15:21, which says, For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.  

Ok. We are at our final verse:

11:16 But, if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the assemblies of YHWH.

 

     The word contentious is the Greek word, philoneikos (fil-on'-i-kos), an adjective, from philos and neikos (a quarrel; probably akin to nikos); fond of strife, i.e. Disputatious -- contentious. The word custom is the Greek word, sunétheia (soon-ay'-thi-ah), from a compound of sun and ethos; mutual habituation, i.e. Usage -- custom. So, what we have here is the verse saying that if any man seems to be of a quarreling or disputing nature, the assemblies have no such custom. No such custom of what? This verse does not tell us what the custom is. Well, to find out what they have no such custom of, we need to go back to the previous thing Paul was speaking about, which is called the antecedent. An antecedent is what was talked about previously.

 

     So, if we go back to verses 14 and 15, the context there is hair. So, it must not be what Paul is referring to as the custom of not having because that would not make any sense. So, then we go back a little further to the verse prior to that, verse 13. What is the Scripture talking about in that verse? It is the question, “… is it comely that a woman pray unto YHWH uncovered? So, the custom then, that is being referred to is a woman praying unto YHWH with her head uncovered. But, wait. Verse 16 isn’t saying that the assemblies have the custom of a woman praying with her head uncovered. It is saying that the assemblies have no such custom as a woman praying with her head uncovered. Here it is again, but with the words placed paraphrasing for understanding as a whole: verse 16: But, if any man seem to be contentious (of a quarrelsome or disputing nature about a woman praying to YHWH with her head uncovered-which is the antecedent), we have no such custom, neither the assemblies of YHWH.  Isn’t that fantastic?! That is the correct interpretation. I hope you can see that.

 

     The conclusion of what this verse is telling us is that among the assemblies, the “practice” (not just the principle), was the standard for the entire body of believers as a whole, not just for the Corinthian believers. Women are still to practice the symbolic actions taught in Scripture because of two reasons. One, the symbolism is meaningful as it speaks of the creation order and of headship. And, two, the symbolism is commanded by YHWH. Does it make any sense for a woman to be ‘doing the Father’s business’ of praying or prophesying while she is in rebellion of acknowledging His creation order of authority? Now granted, many women don’t even know about this ordinance because they are not taught it by those, ‘pastors’, who are suppose to be feeding them the Father’s Word. Or, if they have been taught, it’s always in opposition to what Scripture says due to an erroneous interpretation of the passage. 

 

      I would venture that probably the reason why most of the ‘pastors’ skip this entire passage in 1Corinthians 11 is that they are more fearful of how the women will respond (which, I’m sure wouldn’t be very humble or with a very quiet spirit- their wives included), than being fearful of YHWH. They would quarrel about it. So, unfortunately, the ‘pastors’ avoid it like the plague, which leads to YHWH’s name being blasphemed because the women are not obeying what YHWH said to do.

 

 

 

 

                               Many Interpretations

               (But, there is only one true interpretation)

     There have been many interpretations of this passage. One in particular suggests that Paul was providing the head covering as a symbolic message to the Corinthian culture. Well, I would have to say that would not be the case. The only message that the Apostle Paul would’ve given to any culture is the message of Yeshua Messiah. A cultural message would have never even entered his thought process. Paul was not like a good majority of the modern day ‘pastors’, if you want to call them that. He didn’t sit around with the other Apostles and brainstorm on how they could drum up some fun and exciting things to cater to the flesh of the people in society as to not either offend them or to try to ‘bring them into the fold’.

     Why I have said that this interpretation would not be correct is because of the fact that this head covering teaching is being mentioned in the context of keeping the ordinances as Paul delivered them (stated in verse 2). The Greek word for ordinances in verse 2 is parádosis, a noun, meaning: tradition, ordinance from paradidomi; transmission, i.e. (concretely) a precept; specially, the Jewish traditionary law -- ordinance, tradition. Now, even though this word means tradition, it would not mean a manmade tradition in this context. Paul would not be handing down any instructions for a manmade tradition, since he taught against manmade traditions (i.e. Colossians 2:8 & 1Peter 1:18). The tradition in this context would be an instruction or ordinance from YHWH because the ordinances of the faith once delivered come from YHWH, not from Paul’s own theology. The times that Paul speaks by himself, he says so. But, this is not one of those times. He always says whether it is from YHWH or from himself. So, yes, that would not be an accurate interpretation, to insinuate that YHWH (the Originator of the ordinances) is concerned about sending a message to the culture other than Yeshua the Messiah. The fact is, the woman’s head covering DOES speak of Yeshua’s headship! So, if there was any message sent out to the culture, that was it.

     Due to lack of space and time, I will only list a few of the other interpretations and give a brief synopsis on why they appear to not be accurate interpretations of what the Apostle Paul was conveying in his letter.  

The hair is the covering-This interpretation has a huge hole in it. If the covering for the woman is hair, then you would need to apply that same interpretation to verse 4 about the man’s head not being covered with hair. So, are men to be bald? Are men to shave their heads before praying or prophesying and then put their hair back on when done? How does that work? This interpretation absolutely doesn’t make any sense.

It was due to the culture, whether because of prostitution, marital status, etc.-Paul referred back to creation, not the culture. He also mentions that this ordinance was being practiced in the other congregations, which were located in different cultural areas. To say that culture was the reason would be an inaccurate interpretation, since the text does not state it as the reason, but refers to the creation order.

It was for modesty-This may seem on the surface like a good reason, but looking closely at what was being said in the text, there is no mention of it being for that purpose. What was being said was about the creation order, not about how the women dressed. The reference to creation made it about a universal & perpetual application, not something that was merely cultural.

Here is just a side note about this specific interpretation (modesty), since the opportunity presented itself. If the Apostle Paul was here today in OUR culture, he would absolutely need to say something about how the women in the congregations should dress because too many of them don’t seem to know what modesty is! Sadly, many look like they just came from the club or just rolled out of bed with their nighties still on. Seriously, ladies! Cover up! And, I’m not speaking of a head covering here! I could go into so much here, just in this section alone about modesty in the congregations. But, because it would be fairly lengthy, I may compose a separate article in the future addressing that issue so that we can stay on course with the current topic at hand, the head covering. 

 

References to Womens Head Coverings in the Tanakh-The Law, The Prophets, and The Writings (Old Testament)

     Now, coming to the next area in this study, we will take a look at two references in the Tanakh (Old Testament) in regards to women’s head coverings and see what we discover. The first one is Genesis 24:65, which says, For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.

 

     This verse is from a passage of Scripture referring to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and a woman named Rebecca. For some reason, Rebecca felt compelled to cover her head when she saw the servant’s master walking in the field to meet them. She didn’t feel compelled to do so in the presence of the servant. What was the difference between the servant and his master? The difference is that his master was Isaac, Rebecca’s soon to be husband. Isn’t that interesting? Something I noticed in this example though, is she wasn’t praying or prophesying. So, I’m not quite sure why she covered herself then, unless somewhere along the line she was taught about what a head covering symbolizes. It makes me think of how the commandments existed prior to them being codified by Moses. A few examples of that would be Noah, Joseph, and Moses.

     (Just a quick side mini-study. Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean. Genesis 7:1-3, And YHWH said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. Joseph knew it to be wicked to have relations with Pharaoh’s wife (Genesis 39:7-9, And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against Elohim?) And, Moses made the children of Israel rest on the Sabbath. Exodus 5:4-5,  And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And, Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. The word rest in this passage is the Hebrew word ,shabath (shaw-bath'); a primitive root; to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causative, figurative or specific):—(cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away. It can literally mean keep Sabbath. WOW! So, Moses and the children were keeping the Sabbath PRIOR to Sinai. WHAT? But, I thought the commandments were given at Sinai? Hahahahahaha! These are great examples to use when speaking with others who say that the commandments weren’t given until Sinai. YHWH’s commandments obviously existed prior to that, just in oral form. Then, were codified (written down) at Sinai. Could it be the same with the woman’s head covering, that it was an oral ordinance prior to being codified by Paul? We don’t know. It seems it could very well be a possibility, considering women were wearing them prior to the codified ordinance in the Corinthian letter.)  

     Ok, back to our study of the woman’s head covering. The other verse I would like to mention is Numbers 5:18, which says, And the priest shall set the woman before YHWH, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse… Ok, so in context, we have a woman who has been brought to a priest by her husband who suspected her as committing adultery. According to the Law, the priest was to perform a ritual. I won’t go into detail here, but just wanted to point out that she had her head covered when she was brought to the priest because the Scripture said that he uncovered her head, which was very interesting.  

 

                           A Brief Historical Record

     In ancient times, a woman wearing a head covering was the norm. And, for the past nearly 2000 years, since Yeshua was here on earth, women wore head coverings. There is an abundance of historical writings that mention that the early ekklesia (‘church’) consistently practiced head covering for 1900 hundred years. Nineteen centuries of undisputed church history proves that women covered their heads.

     Then, just within the past 2-3 generations, we arrived at the 21st Century. Most women no longer wear head coverings. We do see some women wear hats, headbands, or wraps out and about, but most if not all, only do it for fashion or because they are having a bad hair day. But, referring to the women of the body of Yeshua, what happened? Why do most of them not wear a head covering? Enter the 1960’s, women’s liberation (or so it was called). That is what happened. Sadly, it infiltrated into the body of Yeshua.

     Something interesting I had read at one point is that some of these same women, who support women’s lib, will be the first to reprimand a man if he doesn’t remove his covering (hat) from his head while praying at the dinner table or prior to entering a ‘church’ building! But, something even more interesting than that is that you rarely do see any man with his head covered while praying, as if they are obeying the command to not cover their heads. If they realize they have a hat on, they remove it. Even unbelieving men in society do. But, I can probably accurately guess that they don’t even know why they do. Now, if only the women would obey and cover their heads.

     There are quite a few early ‘church” writings regarding women wearing head coverings. But, of the few that I read, not one was in opposition to if a woman should cover her head. Some even mentioned that the head wasn’t covered enough. It was absolutely apparent to the early writers of our faith that a woman was to wear a covering over her head.

 

        An Argument Against Wearing A Head Covering

     Now, someone can (and, more than likely has) argue that the symbol is unnecessary and that only the principle counts by saying, according to their logic, “God looks at a person's heart, not their outward appearance” as it says in 1Samuel 16:7, But YHWH said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for YHWH seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but YHWH looketh on the heart. Ok, now. Yes, YHWH looks at the heart and not the outward appearance like man does, but using this verse for spiritualizing an ordinance would be taking it out of context. A command that is given to obey, is not to be spiritualized. It is to be obeyed in a literal fashion. But, yes, we are to obey not just in a literal sense, but above and beyond that, in the spirit of the law as well as the literal.

     The principles represented by the head covering symbolism are still valid today. Similarly to baptism and the Master’s Supper, the head covering symbolizes a condition of the heart just as the obedience to water baptism and partaking of the elements of the Master’s Supper. No one would say that those commands shouldn’t be observed. No one says, “In my heart, I’m keeping the baptism in Yeshua” or “In my heart, I’m keeping the Master’s Supper.” Why is the head covering command any different? I’ll tell you why they say it’s different. Because, then the women can’t curl their hair and make all the fancy braids and wear all the fashion barrettes, etc. That is their confidence. To look the way the world says to look. And, if they weren’t able to do those things very easily due to some head covering mandate, their confidence would be squashed. That is the false confidence the world gives. But, can I speak of a great truth? The women who don’t have their confidence in those things have the true confidence, the confidence that comes from the Father in Yeshua.

 

                                Just Some Questions

  1. What type of head covering should be worn while praying and prophesying?

 

Scripture does not say. It doesn’t give us any description of what it should be. It just needs to cover the head. I would think that it would be something of a modest nature, which means it shouldn’t be a fashion statement. Fashion is of the world and that is not something the daughters of YHWH are to be all caught up in. Whatever is used should not be geared towards the flesh. During my study of extra biblical sources, I ran across many women who had head coverings on, but they were dressed very provocatively and the head covering appeared to be just as well, which is really ridiculous. Covering the head is not to be a fashion show. And, it certainly is not to be done in a provocative way. It should be something that covers most or all of the head. For an example, headbands don’t. So, I would think that because of that reason, it would not be what should be the covering. Otherwise, why even bother. The whole purpose is to cover the head.

 

  1. Should young girls wear head coverings?

     Yes. And, I say this because of the word that was used for woman. The word woman in verse 5 of this passage is the Greek word gyne (goo-nay'); probably from the base of G1096; a woman; specially, a wife:—wife, woman. But, it can also mean a woman of any age, whether a virgin, married, a widow, or betrothed woman. Now, in looking to see if there were any instances of a different word being specifically used for ‘girl’ in any of Paul’s writings, since he was the one that penned this letter, I did come across a passage that I would like to note. It is Titus 2:3-4, which says, The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…

     Ok, now we have an excellent example of Paul referencing women that are specifically aged and young. Now, we just need to determine what words were used for this passage regarding the word women. In looking at the word used for the word phrase aged women, we find that it is the Greek word presbŷtis, pres-boo'-tis, of G4246; meaning an old woman. And, looking at the word used for the word phrase young women is the Greek word néos, neh'-os, a primary word; meaning "new", i.e. (of persons) youthful, or (of things) fresh; figuratively, regenerate:-new, young. These two words that the Scripture uses is specifically defined as old woman and ‘new’ or youthful. So, looking back to 1Corinthians 11:5, we already concluded that the word the Scripture used for woman can mean ‘of any age’. What we have here is, the word in the head covering passage encompasses all women, young or old. So, it appears that the command is for all women, whether younger or older. I hope I’ve explained that for proper understanding.

     Now, even if we didn’t have this fantastic example, I personally believe that it would be a great thing to have young girls do. And, I say this on the basis of two specific passages of Scripture. First, Proverbs 22:6, which says, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  In this verse, we clearly see that parents have an extremely important responsibility, the most important responsibility actually, to train their children up according to the ways of YHWH. So, that would mean that should be from a very young age, from day 1. That’s how disciples are made, starting with our own children. So, since we know that YHWH has instructed in His Word that women are to cover their heads while praying or prophesying, and we know that our daughters will one day be women, we should have them start learning that instruction from a very early age. Then, they will learn the significance of Yeshua’s headship as they grow into adulthood.

     The other passage is the one I just previously referenced in Titus. This passage teaches that wives are to be obedient to their husbands (as unto YHWH), that the Word of YHWH be not blasphemed. The husband is the head of the home (although, under Yeshua). Since, the head covering is a physical symbol of headship, by the woman wearing it (if she is married), she is showing that she is submitting to (or arranging under the proper order of) her husband’s leadership and authority (under Yeshua). So, let’s take this concept/principle to the young girl/daughter. By her wearing a head covering, she is showing that she is submitting to her father’s leadership and authority. So, in both instances, Yeshua is glorified, and ultimately, so is YHWH. And, that should be our goal, to glorify them.

  1. Do I need to wear a head covering all of the time?

 

Looking again at verse 5, we see that Scripture specifically says while praying or prophesying. And, as I previously mentioned, we learned that not only does prophesying mean what most of us think of immediately as foretelling future events, but it also means to teach, refute, reprove, and admonish. These are things that are done with merely speaking the Scriptures, not just while praying. So, that being said, it appears that the answer would be yes. Now, if you’re not doing those things, I would conclude that you wouldn’t be required to wear one until you were. But, then what happens when at any particular moment you start to do those things? Will you remember at that moment you need to put one on and then run all over the house looking for a head covering? Even if you were to have one in each room of the house, wouldn’t it be kind of ridiculous to need to grab it and put it on each time rather than just already having it on? I think so, but that’s just me. I can say that from experience. What is that famous saying, ‘been there, done that’. That’s what I did. And, after doing that only a few times, I came to the quick realization that it was actually quite ridiculous to say the least. So, that’s when I started wearing a head covering all of the time.

 

A Scripture verse that comes to mind that is rightly fitting for further explanation is 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which says, Pray without ceasing. We are to always be in a state of prayer worship to the Father. So, being prepared to be able to do that (pray or prophesy) at any moment by having the head covered seems extremely logical to me. In addition to that, since we are teaching and training our children throughout the day with the Father’s Word, it is an ongoing work. I use Scripture in the milieu, moments throughout the day’s activities with my son, Malachi. So, it definitely seems logical for me to wear one at all times. That is what I have chosen to do and for that specific reason. And, if a woman decides differently for herself, then that is ok too, since the Scripture specifically says while praying or prophesying. We need to do the things we do because of what Scripture says, not because of someone else’s opinion or for the reasons they do.

 

  1. Do I need to wear a head covering in private or just in a congregational (public) setting?

 

The context of this passage appears to be in reference to a congregational (public) setting. We can see this by looking at the next part of the same chapter when it is speaking of the Master’s Supper. But, my question would be, why would it not be proper to pray with my head uncovered in a public setting, but then be proper to pray with my head uncovered in private? Each of those times, I am still before YHWH in prayer. Shouldn’t I have my glory covered so that His glory would be the only glory that is being shown? Prophesying is done publicly. But, I have learned that prophesying is also speaking YHWH’s Word and I do that in times of prayer. This is really a tough question to answer actually. For me, because I don’t know for sure and I do know that the Scripture says that it is not proper for a woman to pray with her head uncovered, I make sure that I cover my head in private prayer as well. That’s just my own thought.

 

      

                                   Closing Thoughts 

     Well, it looks as though we have arrived at the end of our study of the head covering passage of 1Corinthians 11:1-16. I know it has been an extremely long study, but I hope that by it, you have come to the same conclusive biblical interpretation that I have. That being, that the woman’s head covering is still valid for today, in all cultures and to the ends of the earth, where YHWH’s daughters have been scattered. I would’ve liked to have gone further into detail about some other aspects of this topic, but with time constraints and additional things to consider, I thought it best for me to end things right here. So, I will close out this study by leaving below some interesting comments from others about their thoughts on this passage of Scripture of what I believe to be excellent thoughts to ponder about the subject at hand.

     I also want to thank you for taking the time to read this study. I hope it has blessed you as much as it has me. Praise be unto YHWH and His Son, Yeshua the Messiah.

 

   Interesting comments from others about Head Coverings

  1. “It is one thing to seek a more lucid understanding of the biblical content by investigating the cultural situation of the first century; it is quite another to interpret the New Testament as if it were merely an echo of the first-century culture... For example, with respect to the hair-covering issue in Corinth, numerous commentators … [state] the reason why Paul wanted women to cover their heads was to avoid a scandalous appearance of Christian women in the external guise of prostitutes. What is wrong with this kind of speculation? The basic problem here is that our reconstructed knowledge of first-century Corinth has led us to supply Paul with a rationale that is foreign to the one he gives himself. In a word, we are not only putting words into the apostle’s mouth, but we are ignoring words that are there. If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale which is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisogesis.” (R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977), 110).

  2. “If there's ever an indication of a perpetual ordinance in the church, it is that which is based on an appeal to Creation. I'm persuaded that the principle of covering the head is still in effect. (R. C. Sproul, Now, That's a Good Question! (Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), 348).

  3. “The lack of covering for men and the covering for women [as Paul described] has often been very counter-cultural... Men in the Greco-Roman world did just the opposite of the Christian custom. When the men of Corinth went into the temples to pray, they covered their heads with a scarf or the well-to-do would pull their toga up over their heads... The culture’s norms were opposed to God’s, but that’s what we should expect.” (William Klock, Headship and Its Symbols (British Columbia: Living Word Reformed Episcopal Church, October 2009). Sermon transcription).

  4. “The old view that made Corinth almost synonymous with prostitution should be abandoned... [These references are] to Greek Corinth, destroyed in 146 B.C., not in Corinth after it had been resettled and rebuilt as a Roman colony. It is anachronistic to apply the epithets to the Corinth of Paul's day.” (David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians (Baker Academic, 2003), 240).

  5. “The sexual vice of Corinthian life, however, has tended to be overplayed by most NT scholars... It was commonly suggested that short hair or a shaved head was the mark of the Corinthians prostitutes... But there is no contemporary evidence to support this view. It seems to be the case of one scholar's guess becoming a second scholar's footnote and a third scholar's assumption.” (Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1987), 2-3, 511, 496).

  6. “One singular thing may be noted in this history – that with all the vagaries of fashion, woman has never violated the Biblical law that bade her cover her head. She has never gone to church services bareheaded.” (Alice Morse Earle, American historian & author; 1851 – 1911, In her 1903 book entitled Two Centuries of Costume in America).

  7. “The church has rejected this practice in the last thirty or forty years, not because of new interpretive insights, but because of pressure from the world.” Generally, “until 50 years ago, every woman – in every church – covered their head... What has happened in the last 50 years? We've had a feminist movement.” (R.C. Sproul, Jr., theologian and author, Should Christians Only Sing Psalms in Local Churches? Christianity.com).

  8. “There has been a change in practice, if not in Bible interpretation, within the living memory of millions of people; women attend church ... and almost never wear a hat or other head covering.” (Robert Culver, college & seminary professor, author (Clouse & Clouse, ed.), “A Traditional View” in Women in Ministry: Four Views (InterVarsity Press, 1989), 29).

  9. “Chinese Christians in the underground church...are following the head covering teaching.” (Warren A. Henderson, Glories Seen and Unseen (Scroll Publishing, 2007), 33).

  10. “God has sovereignly willed that...the head of woman is man, and so woman should have the sign of obedience on her head... There are many who like to argue that it is not necessary for woman to have her head covered. They withstand Paul’s word and oppose what he has received from the Lord and delivered to them. What does Paul reply? 'We have no such custom.' …There is no such custom among the apostles that the sisters are not covered. This is a matter which is non-negotiable.”(Watchman Nee, influential Chinese church leader; 1903 – 1972, Love One Another (Christian Fellowship Publications, 1975), 87).

  11. The practice of “head covering is definitely in the Bible... we have to stand on the side of what is in the Bible.”(Watchman Nee, Further Talks on the Church Life (Living Stream Ministry, 1997), 60-61).

  12. “It [the head covering] expresses a profound principle... the sign of submission... We ask all the sisters in the church to cover their heads in the meetings when a message is given or when they pray... The sisters are declaring to the world the proper standing that everyone should take before Christ... Head covering may appear to be a small thing; yet it is a great testimony!” (Watchman Nee, Head Covering, Living Stream Ministry (Anaheim, CA: 2003)).

  13. “It is important to care for the matter of head covering because it is related to the headship of Christ.” (Witness Lee, Chinese preacher closely associated with Watchman Nee; 1905 – 1997, A Brief Presentation of the Lord's Recovery (Anaheim CA: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), 54).

  14. “The head covering “involve[s] great principles of Divine order” and Paul “bases it upon the primacy [supremacy] of God Himself.” “It may be asked why have these ordinances or traditions not been preserved and come down to us?” Even though it is now contrary to “modern religious sentiment,” “the direction in which the Church was to sail must have been given from the first [that is, the beginning]. (Michael Ferrebee Sadler, British theologian; 1819 – 1895, The First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians (George Bell, 1897), 166-167).

  15. “Paul teaches the subordination of the woman to man by going back to creation. This should forever lay to rest any idea that his teaching about women's covering was what was culturally suitable to his day but not applicable to us today.”(William MacDonald, Bible college president & author; 1917-2007, Believer's Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 1786).

  16. “We are persuaded that the biblical mandate is still in effect... If there's ever an indication of a perpetual ordinance in the church, it is that which is based on an appeal to Creation... I don't think it matters one bit whether it's a babushka, a veil, or a hat, but I think that the symbol should remain intact as a sign of our obedience to God.”(R. C. Sproul, Now, That's a Good Question!, 347-348).

  17. The head covering is “in itself a very small thing… that which it signifies [is] not small at all.” The head covering and what it symbolizes “has reference, of course, to [the] present... It is God's order as He has instituted it, and which we are bound to respect. There is meaning in it also, and we shall suffer if we refuse it.” (F.W. Grant, Anglican priest; 1834-1902, The Numerical Bible, Vol. 6 (Loizeaux Brothers, 1902)).