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Should a woman cover her head?

Posted by Stephen Pidgeon on Friday, January 22, 2016 at 12:00 AM

 

We begin with an inquiry about that passage found in Qorintiym Ri’shon (1 Corinthians) 11.

What's the context of Qorin'tyim 1 chap 11:6? Anyone pls. Todah!

Qorintiym Ri’shon (1 Corinthians) 11:1-15

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of HAMASHIACH. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is HAMASHIACH; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of HAMASHIACH is YAHUAH. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 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. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of ELOHIYM: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in YAHUAH. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of YAHUAH. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto YAHUAH uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Many commentators who discuss these writings often resort to extra-scriptural references, whether it be the practices of the rabbis at that time, the historical setting, the geography of the region, the words of Josephus, and so forth.  It is the contention here, that the scripture itself must interpret itself, and nothing further.

There are also those who say that the scripture must be placed in context.  For instance, this passage is often pointed to as an example of an instruction that was specifically limited to the people of the church in Corinth.

Under that reasoning, all of the teachings in Romans is limited to people in Rome, Ephesians to people in Ephesus, Philippians to people in Phillipi, and so forth. Again, the context of the passage should be taken exclusively from the record found in scripture.

The record in Ma’aseh (Acts) shows that Sha’ul (Paul) took the naziyr (Nazarite) vow twice. 

Ma’aseh (Acts) 18:18

And Sha’ul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

Ma’aseh (Acts) 21:15-24

And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Yerushalayim. 16 There went with us also certain of the Talmidiym of Qeycaryah, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old Talmidiy, with whom we should lodge. 17 And when we were come to Yerushalayim, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the day following Sha’ul went in with us unto Ya`aqov; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly את eth what things YAHUAH had wrought among the other people by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified YAH, and said unto him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Yahudiym there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the Torah: 21 And they are informed of you, that you teach all the Yahudiym which are among the other people to forsake Mosheh, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that you are come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and guard the Torah.

Let’s take a look and see how this vow works:

Bemidbar (Numbers) 6:1-8

And YAHUAH spoke unto El-Mosheh, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Yisra’el, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Naziyr, to separate themselves unto YAHUAH: 3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. 5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separates himself unto YAHUAH, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separates himself unto YAHUAH he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his ELOHIYM is upon his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto YAHUAH.

When you look at this passage, you don’t see the head being shaved; instead, you see the hair and the beard growing without being cut.  No razor shall come upon his head.  How does this comport with the instruction in Qorintiym Ri’shon: Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Let’s continue to review this naziyr vow:

Bemidbar (Numbers) 6:9-12

And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he has defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. 10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the Tabernacle of the assembly: 11 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow את eth-his head that same day. 12 And he shall consecrate unto YAHUAH את eth-the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.

Okay, well this is the exception, not the rule.  If any man dies by (near) him and he has defiled his consecration, then he shall shave his head. There is nothing in the scriptures which show that Sha’ul (Paul) had defiled his consecration.  Therefore, the remainder of the vow is applicable.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 6:13-21

And this is the Torah of the Naziyr, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the Tabernacle of the assembly: 14 And he shall offer את eth-his offering unto YAHUAH, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings, 15 And a basket of matstsah, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of matstsah anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before YAHUAH, and shall offer את eth-his sin offering, and את eth-his burnt offering: 17 And he shall offer את eth-the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto YAHUAH, with the basket of matstsah: the priest shall offer also eth-his meat offering, and את eth-his drink offering. 18 And the Naziyr shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the Tabernacle of the assembly, and shall take את eth-the hair of את eth-the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 19 And the priest shall take את eth-the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one matstsah cake out of the basket, and one matstsah wafer, and shall put them upon את eth-the hands of the Naziyr, after the hair of his separation is shaven: 20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before YAHUAH: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Naziyr may drink wine. 21 This is the Torah of the Naziyr who has vowed, and of his offering unto YAHUAH for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the Torah of his separation.

So, Sha’ul declared that he had completed the days of his separation twice. This means that before he shaved his head, no razor had touched his head.  How long did this go on?  Did it carry on for such a time that Sha’ul ended up with long hair?  It’s a question.

However, Bemidbar tells us that this unshaven head under this vow is a sign that the person is holy and set apart. 

Bemidbar (Numbers) 6:5

All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separates himself unto YAHUAH, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

Not only did Sha’ul believe in this, he practiced it twice!  Further, the second time he shaved his head, he did so at the instruction of the leadership in Yerushalayim.  There is no question that the leadership in Yerushalayim were practicing Torah and were Torah observant, and given the passage in Acts 21, it is clear that they understood the vow of the naziyr, and recommended it to Sha’ul and his companions. 

How does all of this comport with this head covering instruction in Qorintiym Ri’shon chapter 11?  One thing that we discover is that the naziyr vow was available to both men and women.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 6:1-2

And YAHUAH spoke unto El-Mosheh, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Yisra’el, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Naziyr, to separate themselves unto YAHUAH:

This, of course, means that when the vow of separation was over, the woman too would shave her head as part of this vow.  Consider our verse now in this respect:

Qorintiym Ri’shon (1 Cor.) 11: 5-6

But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 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.

Let’s take a look at the Greek:

1Co 11:5 πασα (Every) δε (not) γυνη (woman) προσευχομενη (prayerful) η (or) προφητευουσα (prophesying) ακατακαλυπτω (uncovered) τη (the) κεφαλη (head) καταισχυνει (disgraces) την (the) κεφαλην (head/capita) εαυτης (himself) εν (in) γαρ (but) εστιν (theirs is) και (and) το (the) αυτο (this) τη (the) εξυρημενη (shaven)

1Co 11:6 ει (Where) γαρ (for) ου (the) κατακαλυπτεται (cover wholly) γυνη (woman) και (and) κειρασθω (shear) ει (where) δε (not) αισχρον (obscenely) γυναικι (women) το (the) κειρασθαι (shearing) η (or) ξυρασθαι (shaven) κατακαλυπτεσθω (wholly covered).

5 Not every woman who prays or prophesies with an uncovered head disgraces the head itself; but it is a disgrace for those who are shaven. 6 For where the woman is sheared, yet wholly covered, such women are not obscene when wholly covered.

How about a quick review of 11:4?

1Co 11:4 πας (Every) ανηρ (man) προσευχομενος (prayerful) η (or) προφητευων (prophesying) κατα (according to) κεφαλης (head) εχων (has) καταισχυνει (disgraced) την (the) κεφαλην (head) αυτου (his).

11:4 Every man praying or prophesying according to his head has disgraced the head.

Now, let’s see how this passage reads:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of HAMASHIACH. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is HAMASHIACH; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of HAMASHIACH is YAHUAH. 4 Every man praying or prophesying according to his head has disgraced the head. 5 Not every woman who prays or prophesies with an uncovered head disgraces the head itself; but it is a disgrace for those who are shaven. 6 For where the woman is sheared, yet wholly covered, such women are not obscene when wholly covered. 7 For a man ought not to cover the head, which is the existing image and glory of ELOHIYM: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in YAHUAH. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of YAHUAH. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto YAHUAH uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

So, what is really being said here?  The practice among many women of the Jewish faith even today is to maintain a shaved head.  Sha’ul is saying that if that is your condition, the head, particularly when praying or prophesying, should be covered.  In that case, it is not obscene.  However, if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, and her hair is given to her as a covering (meaning, no additional covering is necessary). 

This is just a little bit different than expected, isn’t it?

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