My wife is making an entry into today’s blog post. Ladies, feel free to comment below the article.
Let me start by saying that I did not want to wear a head covering. It wasn’t something that my heart desired to do. I honestly had not done any research on the topic and did not want to. I had seen a few other women wearing different styles of covering, but I reasoned that it was something they wanted to do and not something they did because of spiritual reasons. I did not admit thinking it, but if I am honest, I thought it was being legalistic. Consequently, I had disregarded it.
But all that changed when a dear sister in Yeshua asked me what I thought about it. I had to tell her that I had not really thought much about it and didn’t even know anything in the Bible that spoke about it. She immediately directed me to I Corinthians 11. I read Paul’s instruction, seeming like for the first time. Why had I not read this before? There are a lot of things in the Bible that I feel like I am reading for the first time! Coming out of the Constantinian Church has been quite a journey. I have to be honest and say that I had never read the entire Bible. I picked out what I thought was relevant to me and my life and left the rest. Since understanding the truth of Torah and realizing that the ENTIRE Bible deserves my attention, I cannot overlook passages like I Corinthians 11 anymore. So, I began my study of head coverings…
After reading Paul’s passage several times, I felt a conviction that I know was from the Holy Spirit. It seemed obvious to me that he was talking about more than hair. Arguments against head coverings point to this passage and explain that a woman’s hair is her covering so there is no need for an additional covering. I read the passage as honestly as I could (without bias) and could not come to that conclusion. Verse 6 jumped out at me:
“For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.”
This seems to be talking about a covering in addition to a woman’s hair. I told my husband about it that evening and told him that if I was to do it, it would have to be a miraculous change in my heart because I honestly DID NOT want to. Through my initial study and testimonies of others I found online, it seemed that they were doing it out of submission to their husbands. Although I had never struggled with letting my husband be the leader of our home, I did struggle with the reality of the curse of the fall for women in the Bible, that men would have dominion over them. I was not willing to “seal the deal” in my heart by wearing a head covering and essentially saying physically that I am “less than” my husband. I felt that wearing one would be saying to my heart that YHVH loves me less than my husband and I am okay with that. I WAS NOT!
But I couldn’t get head coverings out of my mind. The Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something. The next day I started to honestly pray about it. I pulled out a piece of material and fashioned a scarf out of it. I tied it around my head and looked at myself in the mirror. I was struck! Who was this woman looking back at me? I didn’t recognize her. My heart struggled out a prayer to my Heavenly Father, asking him a short and simple question. “Who will I be if a do this?” In His faithfulness, I heard a reply in my spirit. “That’s the point.” And right then I knew that He wanted me to do this so that He could teach me my identity in Him. I already mentioned my struggle with seeing the treatment of women in the Bible and the seeming double standard and unfairness against women in the Torah. My heart was aching because I truly did not believe that He loved me as much as men. I knew that He was telling me in that moment that I had a lot to learn about His love for me as a woman. I have been wearing a covering ever since. My husband was very supportive and we settled on a style that we both liked.
And faithful to His Word, YHVH has begun to teach me through this. He loves our simple steps of obedience and blesses us beyond what we can imagine through them. However, we are also instructed to test the spirit and we do that by going back to His Word. I John 4:1,
“Beloved ones, do not believe every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of Elohim, because many false prophets have gone out in the world.”
So I wanted to determine what else His Word has to say about head coverings.
My first in depth study centered on Proverbs 31:22. My Bible (The Scriptures version) says, “She shall make tapestry for herself.” King James says, “She maketh herself coverings of tapestry.” When I did a Hebrew word study on this word (tapestry/coverings), I found that it is only used twice in the Scriptures. The other instance is in Proverbs 7:16: “I have spread my bed with coverings.” Many commentaries believe that the word refers to a quilt/bedspread. But, if the word really means covering for a bed, why add the clarification? Isn’t that redundant?
The Strong’s is 4765 and means a spread, a coverlet. The Hebrew is marvaddim (mem-resh-bet-dalet-yod-mem) and comes from the root rabad or ravad (resh-bet-dalet), Strong’s 7234 meaning to spread over, deck. We know that Hebrew is a picture language and by looking at the letters themselves, we can get a deeper meaning of the word. From the three Hebrew letters in rabad, we get “the head is inside the opening (hanging down).” Hmmm…sounds like a head covering to me. Looking at the additional letters in marvaddim, we add 2 mems and a yod. Yod means to work, to make and mem means water, blood, coming out of. Combining all the meanings of these letters we get a picture of “the head is inside/surrounded by the opening made of the water/blood.” Wow! This is a picture of baptism!
We see the first picture of baptism of Noah and his family during the flood. Genesis 7:11
“…on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”
They were literally surrounded by the waters, above and below. We also see a picture of baptism when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. Exodus 14:21-22,
“And Mosheh stretched out his hand over the sea. And YHVH caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right and on their left.”
In both of these examples, we see a physical picture of baptism in the calling out, protection, and salvation of YHVH’s people. The letters of marvaddim give us this same picture, “the head is inside/surrounded by the opening made of the water/blood.” I came to see my head covering as a physical reminder of Yeshua’s blood shed for me, that I am set apart for Him. My identity is in Him. As I put on my head covering, I reminded that I am literally dying to self every day.
“I have been impaled with Messiah, and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. And that which I now live in the flesh I live by belief in the Son of Elohim, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I mentioned my struggle with feelings of inferiority as a woman because of how women are treated in the OT. Yesterday as I sat in Shabbat service, I looked around at all the other women. No one wore a head covering. I felt strange and out of place. I bowed in prayer and asked my Heavenly Father to show me His love and encourage my heart. Immediately I remembered a passage in Ezekiel 16, one that I had not read in a few months. I turned to it and read the beautiful words of YHVH to His Bride Israel. He describes His chosen people as a beautiful woman coming into the prime of her life and ready to be married. This woman is precious, beautiful and LOVED!
“Again I passed by you and looked upon you and saw that your time was the time of carnal-love. And I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. And I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” declares the Master YHVH.
“And I washed you in water, and I washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. And I dressed you in embroidered work and gave you sandals of leather. And I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, and I put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose, and earrings in your ears, and a crown of adorning on your head.”
“Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, and honey, and oil. And you were exceedingly beautiful, and became fit for royalty. And your name went out among the nations because of your loveliness, for it was perfect, by My Splendor which I had put on you,” declares the Master YHVH.
I was so encouraged by reading this again. YHVH loves women or He would have not used this picture to describe the giving of His Covenant to His chosen people. There is a lot described in this passage, but for the sake of head coverings, I decided to look at the Hebrew word for crown in verse 12. It is atarah, Strong’s 5850. The root is atar (ayin, tet, resh), Strong’s 5849, meaning to surround, to crown. When we look at the Hebrew letters, we get the picture of “revealing by surrounding the head.” I am so grateful to the Father for giving me this picture. To be clear, I am not saying that as women we are commanded to dress like the woman in the passage. For example, I do not plan to wear a ring in my nose. However, I take this passage as encouragement that head coverings are good things because YHVH Himself set a figurative crown on His Bride Israel.
Now let’s go back to I Corinthians 11. Before I state my conclusion, I’ll simply quote Andrew Gabriel Roth’s commentary in his AENT version and let you come to your own conclusion about this highly controversial passage.
The bottom line is, in light of what the Scriptures tell us, it would be very reckless to conclude that Rav Shaul (Paul) sent out blanket halakha for all men everywhere to stop wearing all manner of head coverings while praying. YHVH sanctified head coverings as part of man’s service (priests in YHVH’s temple; see Ex. 28:4; 29:6; 39:30,31; Lev.8:9) unto Him. If Rav Shaul’s directive (the Temple was in operation when he wrote this letter) was levied to “every man,” then he would have also had two or three witnesses to establish the matter as halakha (Matt. 18:20). In reality Rav Shaul would have appealed to Ya’akov HaTsaddiz and other Shlichim in Jerusalem to establish such a directive. But in fact just a few verses later Rav Shaul issues this statement: “But in any one is contentious about these things, we on our part have no such custom, nor has the assembly of Elohim” (I Cor. 11:16). In other words, whatever these people were doing it had not been a custom of the Jews, or any assembly of Elohim prior to this. Aramaic English New Testament, pg. 842-843
Some commentaries say that the women in Corinth were imitating pagan priestesses and that Paul was giving them instruction to not do what the pagans do! Whatever the reason, we do know that YHVH had commanded his priests in Torah to function in the Temple with their heads covered. If we use the Corinthians passage to say that all women are commanded to wear head coverings, we also have to say that all men are commanded NOT to wear head coverings. This obviously goes against Torah because we know Leviticus Priest are commanded to were head coverings. Therefore, it is obvious that he was not giving instruction for all women everywhere about head coverings. The conclusion I draw from Paul’s instruction is that head coverings for women are a good thing. I can’t see that he offers an instruction for all women for all time, but in the reading of the passage, head coverings are presented in a positive light.
I conclusion, I want to make absolutely clear that I DO NOT believe that wearing a head covering is a commandment. I think I have sufficiently proved that is not the case. However, I do believe that wearing a head covering is a good thing. It is a physical reminder of His love and an act of dying to self.