Head Coverings and the Body of the Messiah
(Revised 2/15/08)


The subject of head coverings has been a source of much confusion for many believers in the Messiah. However, in this study it will be evident that the reason why it is a source of confusion is because of a lack of understanding as to its purpose. Many have written studies which examine historical data or various theories which attempt to explain the head covering issue. But we can learn why women should cover their heads and why men should not cover their heads simply by looking at the reasons given in 1 Corinthians and studying out those reasons in other scriptures. 

Introduction

Let's start with the first verse in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 11:1-2 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.

In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 11, we see that Paul encouraged the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Yahushua. Of course, there is nothing wrong with imitating anyone who is imitating Yahushua since anyone doing so is actually imitating Yahushua. 

In the second verse, the Corinthians are encouraged to keep the "traditions" that were delivered to them by Paul. Since a good portion of the following verses will be discussing the head covering, it is likely that the head covering is one of those "traditions." 

Some have suggested that since Paul chose to call it a "tradition" rather than calling it a "commandment," and we find no commandment in the law of Yahweh regarding the head coverings (with the exception of the priests), we are free to ignore the principles given in 1 Corinthians 11. However, there are several problems with this.

First of all, the Greek word translated "traditions" here is #3862 "paradosis" which literally means "transmission" or "something given over." There are some instances where it is used negatively, such as in Mark 7:9:

Mark 7:9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition.

But in other instances, this word is used very differently:

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Master Yahushua Messiah, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

Notice that Yahushua's name is invoked when commanding the Thessalonian brethren to withdraw from every brother who doesn't keep to the "paradosis" of the 1st century believers in Yahushua. The "paradosis" of the 1st century believers that Yahushua Himself sent out unto the world were not traditions of men that could be ignored and set aside. The "paradosis" of the body of Messiah were expected to be kept. 

So obviously, there was more to the "paradosis" of the early believers than just a commandment, idea or doctrine of men. So important was the need to keep the "paradosis" that was given by the apostles, anyone straying from them was cut off from the assembly.

The idea that we are free to ignore any commandment given in the "New Testament" is completely without basis. Those who choose to ignore the principles given regarding the head covering in 1 Corinthians 11 on the basis that these things were not covered in the Torah/'Old Testament'/Law of Yahweh are not being consistent in their belief. 

For instance, everyone agrees that we should obey the commandment to be baptized in Yahushua's name for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), but you won't find this specifically commanded in the law of Yahweh.

We also follow Yahushua's "new commandment" to "love one another as I have loved you" and follow Yahushua's admonitions to "Judge not, that you be not judged" and "do not cast your pearls before swine" along with Paul's admonitions to "pray without ceasing" and Kepha/Peter's admonition to "cherish and nourish" our wives. But I don't know of anyone who would argue that we shouldn't follow these things on the basis that we don't see an identical commandment in Yahweh's law. 

The truth is, we should obey all of scripture and not assume we can ignore any of it. Yahweh's word should be heeded regardless of what year Yahweh inspired the words.

Now in the case of the head covering, any man who chooses not to heed the "paradosis" of the head covering is not only ignoring scripture, they are also dishonoring Yahushua: 

1 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

So we need to be sure that we are not dishonoring Yahushua. Anyone who dishonors Yahushua is also dishonoring Yahweh the Father:

John 5:23b He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

But why does it dishonor Yahushua when a man covers his head while praying or prophesying? 

Finding out exactly why a man dishonors Yahushua by covering his head while praying/prophesying is very important. Thankfully, we don't have to look very far. We are given the reason why in verse 7:

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim; but woman is the glory of man.

So the reason why men should not cover their heads while praying/prophesying is because man is the image and glory of Elohim. Therefore, it is evident that Yahweh desires to see His own glory during the times that we pray or prophesy. This is given as the reason as to why a man "indeed ought not to cover his head"

Therefore, the principle given here is this: Do not cover up the glory of Yahweh while in His presence. Doing so dishonors Yahushua the Messiah.

Of course, none of us want to dishonor Yahushua. But in what way does a man praying or prophesying with a covered head dishonor Yahushua? This is an important question. 

The Image and Glory of Yahweh

It is important to concentrate on the words written in this portion of the study in order to grasp the full meaning of the head covering subject, and why a man should not cover his head but a woman should. We will work from this foundation to discover the reason why a woman should cover their head. Unless we really understand why a man dishonors Yahushua when covering His head, we will not really understand the purpose of the head covering.

Firstly, we know that Adam was created in the image and glory of Yahweh. 

Genesis 1:26 Then Elohim said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

At this time, all was perfect and Adam was indeed in the image of Elohim. However, as we all know, Adam sinned. Because of Adam's sin, man's image and glory is no longer the true image and glory of Elohim. After all, the image of Elohim is a righteous image, and His glory is a righteous glory. But since we are sinners, we are no longer in that image and glory: 

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim,

So how can a sinner be restored and once again become the image and glory of Elohim? Only through Yahushua the Perfect One who was indeed the image and glory of Yahweh:

Hebrews 1:1-3 Elohim, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

So Yahushua is the true image and glory of Elohim. Yahushua never sinned and fell short of His glory. For this reason, we need Him to restore us to the image of Elohim again.

Notice that Hebrews 1:3 said that Yahushua is the 'brightness' of Elohim's glory. There are also a number of places Yahushua is called "the Word."

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Revelation 19:13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of Elohim.

So He is the Word and He is also the glory of the Father. We see other parallels in scripture where the word of Yahweh is called a lamp, a light:

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

And continuing that thought we see Yahushua saying:

John 8:12 Then Yahushua spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

So Yahushua is the light, the brightness of Yahweh's glory. He is the "Word" and the express image of Elohim fully.

Adam, the first man, was created in the image of Yahweh but he sinned. Yahushua, who came into the world as the 'last' Adam did not sin. 

Romans 5:14-15 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of Elohim and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Yahushua Messiah, abounded to many.

Through Yahushua, it is no longer we (Adam) who live, but Messiah who lives in us. Thus, through Yahushua we are restored as the true, undefiled image and glory of Elohim:

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Messiah; it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of Elohim, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Since Yahushua is living in us, Yahweh does not see our own corrupted image when we pray or prophesy, but He sees "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person," Yahushua the Messiah IN US. 

So while praying and prophesying, the man must be sure not to cover his head, for in Yahushua he is the image and glory of Yahweh. When we pray, we need to let the image and glory of Elohim (Yahushua) be uncovered. Otherwise we are dishonoring our Head (Yahushua):

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

1 Corinthians 11:7 - For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of YAHWEH:

So we must not be in Yahweh's presence (during prayer and prophesying) without the image and glory of Elohim seen upon us. We need the glory of Elohim through Yahushua the Messiah, for it is through Him that we are saved and it is through Him we are restored to the righteous image of Elohim that was originally created. 

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yahushua, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of Yahweh, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Notice that it says we enter the holiest by the blood of Yahushua, through the veil, that is, His flesh. If we are looking for a veil to put on when coming to Yahweh in prayer, we need to look no further than Yahushua the Messiah. There is a reason that the veil to the holy of holies (wherein lies the mercy seat) was split in two. 

In light of these things, let's now review the verses which said a man should not cover his head:

1 Corinthians 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 YAHWEH.

1 Corinthians 11:4 - Every man praying or prophesying, having his (physical) head covered, dishonoureth his (Spiritual) head.

1 Corinthians 11:7 - For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of YAHWEH:

So it should be pretty clear as to why it dishonors Yahushua when a man chooses to cover his head. He is rejecting the work of the High Priest, Yahushua, who entered to holiest place in the heavens to atone for us with His own blood. Yahushua came to this earth and died for our sins so that He might be raised again, enter the Holiest place with His own blood and live in us, a people who don't even consider ourselves to be alive, but consider Yahushua to live and reign in us. To put some artificial cover on our heads is to disregard the work of Yahushua in us. That's how we are dishonoring Him. Yahushua's veil is all we really need. 

So, in conclusion, any man covering his head while in prayer or during prophesying is dishonoring Yahushua the Messiah, the One whose glory should be made manifest unto Yahweh. Many give their reasons as to why a man should or should not cover his head. But the scriptures give us the reason. We only need to dig a little deeper and then we can grasp the full meaning. 

What about the "Old Testament?"

Upon reading what is often called the "Old testament,", we see some examples of men covering their heads. 

On the surface, it might seem contradictory for 1 Corinthians to say that men ought not cover their heads, while it is written in the Law that the High Priests 'must' cover their heads. The law of Yahweh teaches that the High Priest wore a miter (Heb. #4701 mitsnepheth):

Exodus 29:6 (KJV) And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.

Leviticus 16:4 (KJV) He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre (mitsnepheth) shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

So we see that the High Priest wore a type of head covering, (Heb. #4021 migba`ah). This was not commanded to be worn every time the priest would pray his personal prayers or prophesy, but it was commanded to be worn whenever he performs his priestly duties in the tabernacle/temple:

Exodus 28:43 "They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him. 

Scripture teaches us that Yahushua is also a high priest, but of the heavenly temple:

Hebrews 5:9-10 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by Elohim as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"

Hebrews 8:3-5 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."

Notice it says that if Yahushua were on the earth, He would not be a priest of the earthly tabernacle. This is because He is the High Priest of the heavenly tabernacle, "according to the order of Melchizedek." So the sons of Aaron are the priests of the earthly tabernacle, and Yahushua is the High Priest of the heavenly tabernacle. 

The priesthood and tabernacle on the earth are a "copy and shadow" of the heavenly priesthood and tabernacle. So as a part of Yahweh's desire for it to be a copy and shadow, the priests were commanded to wear linen garments--including a linen head covering. 

Leviticus 16:4 "He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on.

What did the linen represent? According to scripture, linen is a symbol for righteousness:

Revelation 19:7-8 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

A similar scripture is found in Isaiah 61:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, My soul shall be joyful in my Elohim; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

And earlier in the 61st chapter of Isaiah it says:

Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of Yahweh Elohim is upon Me, Because Yahweh has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh, And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty (Heb. #6287 Pe'er) for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of Yahweh, that He may be glorified."

When Yahushua returns, His bride will receive "beauty" for ashes, that we might be called "trees of righteousness" and glorify Yahweh. The Hebrew word translated "beauty" in this verse is "Pe'er." It's interesting that the same Hebrew word is used to describe Ezekiel's turban:

Ezekiel 24:17 "Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban (Heb. #6287 Pe'er) on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man's bread of sorrow."

We can gather from all of these scriptures that the linen turban specifically is a symbolic representation of having righteousness upon our heads. Ashes were often put upon the heads of those who were in great distress (2sam 13:19). Yahushua said that He would give us "beauty" instead. So rather than having ashes on our heads, we will have something glorious. Perhaps the ashes (created by burning) represent what we might have had without Yahushua the Messiah: death and damnation by burning. 

So it can be clearly seen that the priestly head covering represents righteousness. Because the priesthood and tabernacle on the earth is a "copy and shadow" of the heavenly priesthood and tabernacle, the linen garments were given to represent the righteousness of the heavenly High Priest, Yahushua the Messiah. Again, this was only necessary during the times that they functioned in the tabernacle or temple area:

Exodus 28:43 "They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him.

Thus when the High Priest entered the temple and went beyond the veil into the most holy place, he would need to have a representation of righteousness upon him or He would die.

So is there anything contradictory here? I don't see anything at all. If a temple were functioning today, the priests should indeed continue to obey what the law of Yahweh commands in regard to the head covering while ministering in the temple. This fulfills the function of the temple/tabernacle on the earth, to serve as a "copy and shadow" of the heavenly one. 

What about the "Kippah?"

Today, some are claiming to justify the Jewish tradition of wearing a kippa (a round skullcap), or covering your head with a Talit (a rectangular garment) while praying. The reasoning is that we are all "priests of our home" and should therefore wear a head covering just as the priests of Yahweh did who functioned in the tabernacle. 

But if this is the real reason, why stop with the head covering? With that reasoning, you would also need to wear the linen tunic & sash, the crown on top of your head covering, the breastplate with the 12 stones, and don't forget the blood of a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering when you enter the holy of holies (Leviticus 16)! Of course, this argument doesn't really hold water at all because we are not High Priests who are functioning in an earthly tabernacle. Still, many insist on it even though it is not commanded anywhere. 

So what do they do with the passage in 1 Corinthians? One of the main points made by those who hold to this belief is what they believe to be a mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 11:4. They believe the phrase "head covered" is a mistranslation of the Greek which has "Kata Kaphalay":

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered [Kata Kaphalay], dishonors his head.

They instead translate the Greek phrase "Kata Kaphalay" as having something "down over your head." They believe that this scripture is referring to a woman's head covering, not a man's head covering. Thus, they believe that Paul was simply pointing out that any man wearing a woman's garment is dishonoring the Messiah. 

But is this true? Was Paul really only talking about a woman's head covering? 

To help us answer this question, let's look for other possible places where this same Greek phrase is used. One problem is that this phrase isn't used anywhere else in the "New Testament" scriptures. For this reason, what it really means might be up to interpretation. 

Thankfully, the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures dating to 200-300 BCE, uses the exact same phrase "kata kaphalay" in one place. It is used in the following scripture when referring to Haman's head covering: 

Esther 6:11-12 - So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!" 12 Afterward Mordecai went back to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered [Kata Kaphalay].

The phrase is also correctly translated "head covered" in various English translations of this Greek phrase. The context of this scripture is speaking of the time that Haman was humiliated by having to parade through town and honor Mordecai, his enemy. Obviously, after being totally humiliated, Haman wouldn't desire to humiliate himself even further by putting on a woman's head covering. Clearly, it can safely be concluded that "kata kaphalay" simply means "head covered." There is no need to add anything else to that.

The reason given in 1 Corinthians 11 as why men should not cover their heads has nothing to do with putting on a woman's garment. Paul didn't quote from the law and warn the Corinthians against putting on women's clothing. Instead, he says:

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim.

With all that we have read, comparing various scriptures on these matters, we can understand that in baptism, we died with Messiah and we are also raised with Him. 

Colossians 2:12 Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead.

Thus, it is Yahushua the Messiah who lives in us. The old Adam died and neither Adam nor his glory should be manifested in Yahweh's presence. 

Yahushua (the last Adam) needs to be what Yahweh sees while praying and prophesying. It is His image and glory that now dwells in us. We are His body, the body of the Messiah. The men who choose to wear a head covering are causing the image and glory of Elohim to be covered. Thus, scripture says they dishonor Him and are failing to give proper recognition to Yahweh's work in them through Yahushua the Messiah. We need to be a people who not only accept the good news that Yahushua lives in us, we need to be acting like it and proclaiming this good news to all the world. When a man obeys the principles of the head covering in 1 Corinthians 11, he is recognizing Yahushua's work in him and the heavenly High Priesthood of Yahushua the Messiah, a priest after the order of Melchizedek, the priest that gave us access to the true Holy of Holies: 

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yahushua, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of Yahweh, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This is a "new and living way," so let's not fear something that scripture teaches on the basis that it is new, or old. Let's learn to obey all of Yahweh's inspired words in the scriptures, no matter when they were written, or who happened to be holding the pen. Let's be like the wise scribes:

Matthew 13:52 Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."

Our participation in Messiah's death and resurrection is a new principle that was never directly taught in the law. 1 Corinthians 11 and other scriptures show that the head covering issue is directly connected to this. If He lives in you, don't dishonor Him in your prayers by covering the image and glory of Yahweh: Yahushua the Messiah living in you. 

Instead of trusting in our own glory to approach the throne of Yahweh (which would cause our sins to be made manifest), Yahweh desires that Yahushua, the High Priest of the heavenly tabernacle, is seen in each us. We are His body. With Him, we are declared righteous. Without Him, we cannot approach the Father. He is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, except by Him. 

We are ministers of the new covenant (2Cor 3:6). The promise of the new covenant was that the law of Yahweh would be placed in our hearts and minds. 

Jeremiah 31:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.

This is accomplished by His Spirit dwelling in us through Yahushua the Messiah, the "Word" which became flesh:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

It is His image and glory that dwells in us. This is the good news (gospel) that should not be rejected:

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the elohim of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of Elohim, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Messiah Yahushua the Master, and ourselves your bondservants for Yahushua' sake. 6 For it is the Elohim who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim in the face of Yahushua Messiah.

The word is a light, a lamp unto our feet. And now it is in our hearts through Yahushua.

Yahushua is the word made flesh who dwells within us. 

Thus, the light has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the "glory of Elohim in the face of Yahushua the Messiah." 

Therefore, let's not cover that glory. Let's allow this "image and glory of Elohim" to shine in His presence, giving thanks to Yahweh our Elohim for this awesome work in Yahushua! For it is this awesome work that enables us to be declared righteous before Yahweh. Let's rejoice over the treasure that Yahweh has given, Yahushua the Messiah living in us:

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of Elohim and not of us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed -- 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Master Yahushua, that the life of Yahushua also may be manifested in our body.

Yahushua is indeed a treasure in our otherwise weak earthen vessels to show forth Yahweh's AWESOME power in redeeming our souls. In our prayers, and in all that we do, let's cause the life of Yahushua be manifested in our body. 

Colossians 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of Elohim. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in Elohim.

So rather than bringing Him dishonor, let's honor and lift up the name of Yahushua the Messiah:

Revelation 5:11-13 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

John 5:23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.


Head Coverings for Women

The following section will require some humility on the part of those who read it, especially for women. Today, there is often a cultural stigma against head coverings for holy purposes, and a woman wearing a real head covering (and I don't mean the "bandanna" that seems to be in vogue lately) is often viewed as strange or unusual. I realize that a woman's appearance is often a very touchy subject because of the societal focus on the fleshly appearances. This kind of societal focus has brought a lot of pain and problems into the lives of women and this should not be. 

Proverbs 31:30 (ISR) Loveliness is deceptive And prettiness is vain, A woman who fears Yahweh is to be praised.

I would encourage everyone reading this section to mentally remove themselves from any concern about appearance and just let the holy scriptures to speak for themselves, asking Yahweh for guidance. 

It is necessary that the above section on the head coverings for men be fully understood before one can begin to understand why women must cover their head in prayer. So if you haven't read the first section of this study, please do so. 

Concerning the head coverings for women, let's first look at the principles involved in 1 Corinthians. The backdrop to the entire chapter is the following verse:

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim.

Why is this even mentioned? What does it have to do with the head covering? We will examine this at length and seek to understand why scripture says a woman should wear a head covering.

We saw in the former section of this study that man is the image and glory of Yahweh because he has the righteousness of Yahushua the Messiah upon him. But what about woman?

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim; but woman is the glory of man.

This scripture says that the woman is the glory of man. What might this have to do with the head covering?

We know from Genesis that Chawah (Eve) was taken out of Adam. 

Genesis 2:21-24 And Yahweh Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which Yahweh Elohim had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

In light of the fact that woman was taken out of Adam, we can see why woman would be the glory of man. The fact that woman was taken from man, and the fact that she was created for him, are the reasons given as to why she is the glory of man:

1 Corinthians 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

So the principle given here is that the image and glory of Elohim must not be covered, but the glory of man must be covered.

Another statement that should be addressed in this chapter is how the head covering relates to a woman's hair. :

1 Corinthians 11:3-7 I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim; but woman is the glory of man

Notice first of all that if a woman were to pray with her head uncovered, it would dishonor the man. How would it dishonor a man if a woman were to pray without a head covering? Somehow honor and dishonor is connected to headship and authority. And somehow the head covering are connected to both.

In the same way a man would dishonor the Messiah by not wearing a head covering because he ignoring the fact the he is not the Messiah and he needs the Messiah's image and glory within him, the woman would dishonor her head by ignoring the fact that she is not a man and "man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man." She is not recognizing that she is Adam's glory and instead trying to act as if she is the one who is the "glory of Elohim." This is why it says that if a woman prayed with her head uncovered, "that is one and the same as if her head were shaved." If her head were shaved, she would look more like a man. 

1 Corinthians 11:13-15 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to Elohim with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 

Here we see that Paul is further cementing his point that woman should cover her head while men should not by pointing out that even nature itself teaches the proper head covering principles. Typically, women will grow their hair long but men keep their hair cut short. The long hair is given to a woman "for a covering." The word translated "covering" is the Greek word "peribolaion." (#4018). This word is found in one other verse of the 'New Testament:

Hebrews 1:10-12 And: "You, Yahweh, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak "peribolaion." (#4018) you will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail."

Since this verse in Hebrews is a quote from the book of Psalms, we can learn more about it by looking up this verse in the Psalms:

Psalm 102:26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed.

So we gather from these scriptures that the long hair of a woman is is given to her for a cloak or garment. 

Some have suggested that a woman can cover her head by simply growing her hair long and a man can keep his head uncovered by keeping his hair cut short. The reasoning is that since long hair is likened unto a garment, a woman only need to grow her hair long and her head will be covered. But there are at least 7 reasons why this cannot be:

1.     Long hair doesn't actually cover the head. It only covers the back of someone's neck and a part of their back at best. So whether one has short hair or long hair, their hair still covers the same region of their head. Long hair doesn't cover a woman's head any more than a man's short hair does.

2.     If a man took a Nazirite vow (as Paul did in Acts 18:18 and four brethren did in Acts 21:23) then they would at some point not be permitted to pray because a Nazirite vow involved growing your hair long (Num 6:5). If a man prayed while having long hair as a result of taking a Nazirite vow, he would be dishonoring the Messiah because his long hair is supposedly a "covering." 

3.     Whether a man has short hair or long hair has nothing to do with him being the image and glory of Yahweh through Yahushua the Messiah.

4.     If long hair were the head covering, consider the convoluted statement that would come out of verse 5:

1 Corinthians 11:5-6 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered (wears short hair) dishonors her head (the man), for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered (wears short hair), let her also be shorn.

    We see here that shaven hair is not the same as short hair because (by this interpretation) it says if she wears short hair, "let her also be shorn." So they are not the same. But since they are different, why would Paul say they are 'one and the same'? 

    The truth is he's not comparing a woman with short hair to a woman with even shorter hair. He's comparing a woman with no head covering (trying to be a man by refusing to accept that she came from Adam) to a woman with shaved hair (again trying to look like a man).

5.     Scripture says in 1Cor 11:10 that the covering is a "sign of authority because of the angels". How could a woman's hair length (her own glory) be a sign of authority? It doesn't make any sense.

6.     If a woman's long hair were a proper "head covering" to cover the glory of Adam, why would the glory of Adam need to be covered in the garden of Eden before sin ever came?

7.     Even if the hair were given as a head covering to cover the glory of Adam, the hair itself is "a woman's glory." It is the glory of Elohim that should be manifest during prayer and prophesying, not our own glory.

So what was Paul talking about here? Let's read it again for clarification:

1 Corinthians 11:13-15 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to Elohim with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 

So nature itself teaches the need for some kind of covering for a woman, but not for a man. A man doesn't have long hair so he doesn't have a natural garment attached to their head. A woman does have long hair and so she does have a natural garment attached to her head. For the unconvinced, Paul used this illustration to demonstrate that even nature itself parallels the need for a woman to have a head covering attached to their head while men do not. He asked them the question of "Is it proper for a woman to pray to Elohim with her head uncovered?" and answered it with an illustration from nature. We can even judge for ourselves that a woman praying with an uncovered head is improper because there is no shame in a woman having long hair but it is a shame for man to have long hair. 

Nevertheless, Paul quickly points out in the next verse that a man having short hair and a woman having long hair is not necessarily a custom of the assembly:

1 Corinthians 11:16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the assemblies of Elohim.

If it were an official custom of the assembly that men must have short hair and women must have long hair, Paul himself would have violated that himself it when he took the Nazirite vow (Acts 18:18, 21:23) which required one to let their hair grow long. Paul was simply using the long hair/short hair illustration to further demonstrate that women should wear head coverings and men should not. Women naturally wear a type of garment but men naturally generally do not. 

Some have suggested that the "custom" spoken of in this verse 16 refers to the head covering. In other words, the assembly doesn't actually teach that women should cover their head and men should keep their head uncovered so don't make it a matter of contention. 

1 Corinthians 11:4 - Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

This is either true, or it isn't. I believe it is true. So if it is really the head covering issue spoken of in verse 16, then Paul would basically be saying "If anyone chooses to dishonor Yahushua, don't contend with him because we have no such custom of honoring Yahushua, nor do the assemblies of Elohim." Clearly, this would be double talk. It absolutely is a custom in the body of Messiah to honor the Messiah and refrain from dishonoring him. How could it ever be otherwise?

Keeping ourselves from dishonoring Yahushua is certainly an important issue, so the head covering cannot be what verse 16 was talking about. It makes much more sense if we understand that he is speaking of long/short hair not being a custom in the assembly, for Paul himself took a Nazirite vow which would require him to grow his hair long. There were also situations where even a woman might need to shave their head, such as for the cleansing of leprosy (Lev 14:9).

Because of the Angels?

1 Corinthians 11:10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Concerning this phrase "Because of the angels", there have been many interpretations. It seems to come out of nowhere and has caused much conjecture as to its meaning. Of course, this is where the belief that a woman's hair is an adequate covering starts to really fall apart. How could a woman's long hair give her the authority to come to Yahweh in prayer? 

One interpretation states that the angels would again 'see that the daughters of men were fair' and would be tempted to sin like the fallen angels of old (Gen. 6:2). One problem with this is that the angels are present at any given time, not just praying and prophesying. What if she's in the shower? Obviously this could be a problem at any time. 

Another interpretation says that the angels of Yahweh would be shocked at the conduct of the women when they are uncovering their heads in prayer or prophesying. But it seems to me that there are a lot of behaviors more shocking than a woman not covering their head and there aren't any other verses in scripture saying "Don't do this because of the angels." The fact that it says women ought to have the 'sign of authority on her head BECAUSE of the angels' seems to indicate that the whole purpose of the head covering is because of them. This doesn't really line up with the reasoning given in rest of the chapter.

So what might it mean? It is important to understand that unlike the English language where "angel" always refers to a spiritual being, in both Hebrew and Greek there is a dual meaning. 

The Greek word used for 'angel' (#32 angelos) here is most often translated 'angel' but it is also translated 'messenger' 7 times in the KJV. In each case it is translated 'messenger,' it is referring to a person, not an angelic being. Here is an example:

Luke 7:24 When the messengers (#32 angelos) of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

The word 'messengers' here is the word in question. It is the Greek word most often translated "Angel" (angelos, #32). So we can see that in Greek, this word has a dual meaning. What about Hebrew?

In Hebrew, the word has the same basic dual meaning only with even greater variation. The Hebrew word "Malak" (#4397) is translated "angel" 111 times and "messenger" 98 times. Here is a great example of this:

Malachi 2:7  "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts.

So Yahweh calls the priest a "malak" because from his mouth the people would learn the instruction and teaching of Yahweh. 

In the body of Messiah, men have been given this responsibility. As it is written:

1Timothy 2:12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

We often refer to a scripture study as a "message." Messages are given by messengers. So with this in mind, let's read the verse in question again. This time we will insert the alternative translation:

1 Corinthians 11:10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the messengers.

It makes far more sense in my view to say that a woman wears a head covering "because of the men/messengers." This is more in line with the other scriptures in this chapter such as:

1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head

It is because a woman should not dishonor her head that she is told to wear a head covering. Therefore, it makes more sense that she is wearing the head covering "because of the men (messengers)." A husband is the teacher of his wife and is commanded to "cleanse her with the washing of water by the word" in Ephesians 5:26. 

The word translated "authority" in verse 10 is #1849 "exousia" and means "Power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases" in the Thayer's Greek lexicon and "(in the sense of ability); privilege" in the Strong's Greek Lexicon. So with a head covering, a woman has the ability, liberty and privilege of coming to Yahweh in prayer. Therefore the head covering is referred to as an "exousia" on her head, which she wears "because of the messengers" (men) who will be dishonored if she chooses not to wear it. 

1 Corinthians 11: Verse by verse

Up to this point in the study I have chosen to address each of the verses in an order that I believe will best help to explain the principles given in each verse. For instance, I desired to address the men's and women's head coverings separately even though Paul mentions both of them together. I felt this was needful in order to understand the reasons given in scripture as to why a man should not cover his head but a woman should. 

But now that we have carefully examined each principle in detail, let's now go through each of these verses in 1 Corinthians 11, in their original order.

1 Corinthians 11:1-4 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

Men do not cover their heads because man was created in the image and glory of Yahweh. Even though man was created in His image and glory, we have all fallen short of the glory of Yahweh. Therefore, we all need to receive the good news of Yahushua the Messiah, cleave to the new covenant promises, and be "crucified/impaled with Messiah" so that He might live in us:

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Messiah; it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of Elohim, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We need Yahushua in us as the "brightness of the glory of Yahweh" and the "express image of His person" (Heb 1:3). If we, who receive the heavenly High Priest (Hebrews 7:21) as the One dwelling within us, choose to cover our heads in prayer, then we are in essence doubting that "Yahushua dwelling in us" is adequate as the glory needed to approach the Father. 

Over and over again (particularly in Hebrews) it is written that the priesthood of Yahushua the Messiah is a spiritual one. The sacrifices are spiritual, the temple is spiritual, everything is spiritual. This why men also only need the spiritual covering of Yahushua the Messiah upon their head when we spiritually come into the presence of Yahweh. We already have the veil needed to appear righteous unto Yahweh while in His presence:

When Yahweh sees us...He must see Yahushua and His righteousness in us. We dishonor our head (Yahushua) by not recognizing that it is He who dwells in us through the promises in the new covenant, a covenant we receive by faith. 

There is nothing about this that changes any of the laws given in the old covenant. The laws of the old covenant are silent about whether or not one should be baptized in Yahushua's name, and whether the common people needed to wear a head covering or not. Both baptism and the head covering issue are interconnected because baptism represents the death of the old man (Adam) and the new man (Yahushua) dwelling in us. Therefore we ought not cover the glory of the new man and we ought to cover the glory of the old man (woman).

1 Corinthians 11:5-9 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of Elohim; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

Because woman was created for man (Adam) she ought to cover the glory of Adam. Our glory is a lesser glory...and an unworthy glory. The only glory that should be uncovered is Yahushua the Messiah, the glory of Yahweh!

If a woman were to uncover her head, then it would dishonor her head (the man) because she is trying to bypass him and act as a male. Man was not created for the woman but the woman was created for the man. This concept is what is behind the principles of authority in this chapter and in the other scriptures as well.
 

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

Since we must come to Yahweh in reverence for authority, it is the head covering that gives the woman the ability/privilege/authority to come to Yahweh. Without the glory of man (Adam) man being covered, she should not come to Yahweh because she is not respecting Yahweh's order. 

11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in Yahweh' 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of Yahweh.

This acknowledges that although woman is from the man, man cannot now exist without the woman for she gives birth to the man in childbearing....however all things are of Yahweh.

13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto Yahweh uncovered? 14 Doth 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. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the assemblies of Yahweh.

For the unconvinced, Paul used this illustration to demonstrate that even nature itself parallels the need for a woman to have a head covering attached to their head while men do not. He asked them the question of "Is it proper for a woman to pray to Elohim with her head uncovered?" and answered it with an illustration from nature. We can even judge for ourselves that a woman praying with an uncovered head is improper because there is no shame in a woman having long hair but it is a shame for man to have long hair. Since the long hair functions as a type of garment for covering, the natural thing would be for a woman to be covered and a man uncovered. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this so it is not an official custom of the assembly.

But it is always a custom and principle in the assembly that we ought to honor Yahushua. Respect and honor for authority is very important in the eyes of Yahweh. He included the principle of honoring our Father and Mother in the Ten Commandments. 

We must inherently honor the one who took part in bringing us life. Were it not for our parents, we would have no life, therefore we must honor them. 

Woman was taken from man, therefore woman must honor the man. 

Were it not for Yahushua, none of us would have eternal life abiding in us, therefore we must all honor Him. 

And it is the Heavenly Father who is the giver of all life, therefore all (including Messiah) must honor Him. 

So as a token of honor, let's heed the principles of the head covering given in this chapter of scripture. When we examine the reasoning given for the head covering in 1 Corinthians, and compare it to the rest of the holy scriptures, it all lines up and makes perfect sense. Let's set aside societal pressures and efforts to justify Jewish traditions, and let's pick up the scriptures and learn to accept whatever it has to teach us, no matter where it says it.

Some questions answered:

A common question I have received is whether or not an unmarried person is supposed to wear a head covering. From what I see in scripture, it is more so a man-woman issue (though it is ultimately fulfilled in the husband and wife). In fact, Paul never specifically says "husband and wife" in 1 Corinthians 11. In a general sense women are under the authority of men. For this reason, I believe that all women -- including divorced, widowed and even young girls -- who are essentially women in training -- ought to wear the head covering. 

Another question I often receive is whether a woman should wear a head covering at all times. According to scripture, it is only needed when praying or prophesying. However, there is a scriptural principle of "praying without ceasing" (1Thess. 5:17). In other words, keep the lines of communication with Yahweh always open. Having to locate and put on a head covering every time can be a hindrance to that. As believers, we will often say short little prayers during the day as various circumstances arise. A spiritually minded woman could hardly go an hour without praying. Also, we do want to follow the principle of "praying in secret" that Yahushua shared (Mat 6:6). If a woman wore a head covering always, she could pray often in secret and only her and Yahweh would know. Then our Father, who sees in secret, will reward her openly. May it be so!

Through all of this, let's not lose sight of the real purpose in prayer, and that is to communicate with the Heavenly Father. We want to always approach Him in reverence, and with respect. His hand is not too short to accomplish anything that we ask in faith, and He loves it when we speak to Him, and about Him in truth.


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