Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

sp spacer


The Headcoverings of Sisters;
A Response by Bro. David Murphy 



Dear Brethren,

The following letter is one which was graciously received from a brother in the United Kingdom, and is the first that we have received answering the questions we have posed in the article that we have written on the subject. It is our hope that many more will follow and the best of which we will place on our website just as we have done in this case, for it was indeed a very good and well-thought-out Biblical answer to our questions. Basically, it supports and adds to our understanding of 1 Cor. 11. We would like to add to what he has said the following so everyone can think about it. In his presentation he utilizes very accurate examples taken from the Old. However, while supporting what is contained in our huersistical (1) presentation on the subject which is based on the dispensation under the Lord Jesus Christ, it should not be used to further the case. For example, the Nazarite was a type of the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and has absolutely no specific application to the saints, since the coming of Christ. It is part of that schoolmaster aspect of the Law of Moses that Galations 3 describes. However, in spite of this, it is an excellent, nay, superb presentation of this brother's ideas on the subject. May we receive more just as good as this in the future.

We remain,
A Brother and Sister, In The Lord Jesus Christ
Julio B. and Kim Scaramastro

[[1) heuristic == adj. enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves : a "hands-on" or interactive heuristic approach to learning. • Computing proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined. ==noun a heuristic process or method.
• ( heuristics) [usu. treated as sing. ] the study and use of heuristic techniques. ORIGIN formed irregularly from Greek == heuriskein == 'find m.d.,ed.]


Dear Brother and Sister Scaramastro,

Re: your very interesting website article on headcoverings. My thoughts as follows:

Question #1.

I am of the opinion that Paul in 1 Cor.11 is not talking solely in connection with the Memorial Service, my evidence is that the words recorded in chapter 11 are simply a continuation of Paul's words to the Corinthians from the previous chapters and deal with divers subjects. How therefore, can it be said that verses 3-16 of 1 Cor.11 are specifically tied to the Memorial Service? Paul in the previous chapter had twice reminded the Corinthians that the scriptures in what we now call the Old Testament were "our examples" and "for ensamples", furthermore "they are written for our admonition". 1 Cor. 10:6,11. That being the case, Yahweh must have provided examples with which we can gain insight regarding Paul's words in 1 Cor.11: 3-16. I believe this to be the case.

Question #2.

The only example that I can find specifically mentioning uncovering of a woman's head is what is recorded in Numbers 5:18 and dealing with the law of jealousy. Is this a clue with which we can gain insight on the matter we are considering? The scripture says "And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, 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:" The Hebrew word used for "uncover" is PARA and according to Young's Analytical Concordance means to free, keep or make bare - it is used only 3 times, the other two instances are Lev.10:6 and 21:10 both used in connection with the Aaronic priesthood. I believe it is certain that both instances in Leviticus are using the word PARA or "uncover" with reference to the headgear worn by the Aaronic priesthood. This strongly suggests that in the only other use of PARA in Num.5:18 that when it says "uncover(PARA) the woman's head" it is referring to headgear of some kind. So what, you may ask? Well, consider that this is a LAW applying to ALL women throughout ALL generations up to the end of the Mosaic dispensation, some 1,500 years! Potentially, EVERY woman could be brought "unto the priest" Num.5:15 at anytime her husband had doubts as to her faithfulness. Why would Yahweh set in place a law lasting 15 centuries in which any woman brought before the priest under the law of jealousy, whereby the priest would "uncover the woman's head", UNLESS there was SOMETHING to "uncover"? Is this evidence that it was the norm for Israelite women to wear a headcovering? If so, it would surely be dishonouring her head (husband) to have her head uncovered even if she was later found to be innocent.The law of jealousy leaves absolutely no doubt that every woman's head was 'covered', if not, how could the priest "uncover the woman's head" whenever and wherever the law of jealousy should be applied? Yahweh would not give a law with no exceptions mentioned, demanding uncovering "the woman's head" if "the woman's head" was not already 'covered' in some way. Should the above reasoning prove to be the case it may at least shed some light on Paul's words to the women members of the ecclesia wearing a headcovering.This may well support your reasoning in Question #2 that the headcovering was for all occasions not just ecclesial gatherings.

Question #3.

I take it you are referring to verse 4 of 1 Cor.11 "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head". Again I believe it is without question that scripture is abundant in showing that prayer in every location and at any time of day is possible - therefore, clearly the answer is no to question #3.

Question #4

. "Is there any time at which it is appropriate for a man to cover his head?". 2 Sam. 15:30 recording King David's flight from Absalom says "And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had HIS HEAD COVERED, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him COVERED EVERY MAN HIS HEAD,and they went up, weeping as they went up". Was this to make their identification more difficult? Were there other reasons? Whatever, here is a scriptural example showing there may be circumstances where a man can cover his head.

Interestingly, so far as I am aware, the following is true - in the entire O.T. WHERE COVERING OF THE HEAD IS CONCERNED, the only reference to women (Num. 5:18) speaks of UNCOVERING, references to men (2 Sam. 15:30, Jer. 14:3,4) speak of COVERING, [ there is also a mention in Psalm 140:7 of David saying of "GOD the Lord....thou hast covered my head in the day of battle"], this being figurative or symbolic.

Questions #5 - #14.

Clearly to arrive at a correct judgment we need to examine the words chosen by the spirit to convey its message to the Corinthians and believers thereafter.In describing the hair of the woman as "given her for a covering" 1 Cor.11:15 the word for "covering" is PERIBOLAION which Young's gives as - something cast around, what is thrown round one. This same word is used only one other time in Heb. 1:12 where it is translated as vesture in the A.V. clearly indicating a veil, clothing, garment type of meaning. In 1 Cor. 11: 6 and 7 the words "covered" and "cover" are translated from the original Greek word KATAKALUPTO (used only 3 times in the above 2 verses) which Young's gives as to cover fully. Indeed looking at the other verses 4,5 and 13 of 1 Cor. 11 the original of "covered" and "uncovered" all give the sense of a covering OTHER THAN the natural hair of the man or woman. This I believe ties in with the examples which Paul reminded the Corinthian ecclesia as follows, in what is now 1 Corinthians 10:11 "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition". These "ensamples" include the following scriptures which to my mind leave no room for the natural hair of man being the "covering" that Paul is speaking of - 2 Kings 2:23 talking of Elisha, "And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head". This scripture raises the valid point of, if hair really were the "covering" reflecting the glory etc. how would it be fair and just to punish a man or woman for not reflecting that glory due to baldness over which they had absolutely no control whatsoever?

In Job 1:20 it says "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped". Would Job have uncovered his head if his hair was a "covering" in the sense that Paul is speaking of? Regarding hair length what are we to learn from Num. 6:5 which shows that Yahweh allowed men to grow their hair long in special circumstances? Judges. 16:17 re Samson. Hence I believe that a woman's natural hair is her glory but not the "covering" - and that the above scriptural testimony may help us to arrive at a better understanding of Paul's words in 1 Cor. 11:3-16. Hope these thoughts may help to throw some light on this important topic you bring to our attention. I look forward to the outcome of our brethren's scriptural input, in helping us all to understand fully what is pleasing to Yahweh in line with His Word.

Bro. David Murphy
March 9, 1999


Contents--Head Coverings for Sisters
The Hats of Christadelphian Sisters - A Biblical Consideration, Ron Abel spacer A response to "The Headcovering of Sisters: by Bro. David Murphy
"Let Her Be Covered", C.C. Walker, The Christadelphian, Feb. 1, 1900   Women's Hats and Churches, Bro. John Carter, The Christadelphian, December 1942, page 345
Headcovering: Letter to the Editor, The Christadelphians Magazine, Aug. 1983 Bro. Dennis and Sis. Iris Adey   Headcovering: Letter to the Editor, The Christadelphians Magazine, July 1983, Sis. Iris Clarke
The Headcoverings of Sisters   Does Bro. Roberts Give Sound Advice On The Headcovering Question in 1 Cor. 11?