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Women's Head Covering- 1Cor. 11:15 Never Before Understood- Clarified from the Aramaic


Shalom all,


I have recently been studying 1Cor. 11 and the issue of head coverings.  While seeking to understand Paul's halacha on the issue I began studying the text in detail in the original Aramaic.  In doing so I discovered that the Aramaic of verse 15 has been poorly translated in the past, even in the HRV (we will correct it in future editions).  The Aramaic itself reads:


ואנתא מא דמרב סערה תשבוחתא הי לה

מטל דסערה חלף תכסיתא הו אתיהב לה


Now the first phrase is simple enough:


"And [for] a woman, it is a glory to her when her hair is abundant..."


But the second phrase has presented some difficulty.  The following are some past translations from the Aramaic:


...because her hair for a covering was given to her.

...for her hair is given to her for a covering.

...for her hair is given her for a covering.

...for her hair is given to her for a covering.

...because her hair is given to her for a covering.


Now the Aramaic is :  

מטל דסערה חלף תכסיתא הו אתיהב לה


Lets break this down:

מטל דסערה

"because of her hair"


The next word is:



This word has been the difficult word to translate, in the past it has been translated as a preposition "for" however the word is generally a verb meaning "to exchange" or "to transform".  It is often used as if it was a make shift preposition in the sense of "instead of" "in place of" or "on behalf of" indicating that one thing is exchanged so that it stands instead of another.


The next phrase is  

תכסיתא הו אתיהב לה

"a covering is given to her"


I am convinced from the context, that the passage should be translated in one of the following ways:


...because of her hair, on its behalf, a covering is given to her.

...because of her hair, in its stead, a covering is given to her.

...because of her hair, in its place, a covering is given to her.


Meaning that the covering or veil is over her hair, so that the veil stands in place of her hair.  Instead of praying or prophesying with her hair flowing loose, in its stead is a veil over her hair.  


I am interested in your feedback as to which of the three above translations best conveys the idea, as we will be revising future editions of the HRV with this clarified translation.


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Views: 1372

Comment by James Trimm on October 26, 2011 at 10:35pm
The Hebrew cognate is Strong's 2498 and 2500 and the Aramaic is Strong's 2499.
Comment by GARY ATKINSON on October 27, 2011 at 11:06am
david bauscher "The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English"  has (1Cor 11:15) And whenever a woman grows her hair, it is a glory to her, because her hair is given to her in place of a covering. do not reject this because of your theology <grin>
Comment by Arleine vonWagner on October 27, 2011 at 12:56pm
I would like to know Torah/Tanak support for this - not just Jewish Tradition.  Thank you.
Comment by David L Johnson on October 27, 2011 at 1:09pm

Which one is more correct does not seem evidently clear to me, but it brings up all kinds of thoughts and feelings. 


It seems that the full meaning of this, is tied to the whole of the verses around it.      I have read that    the disgraceful conduct of the Corinthian women in cropping their hair, after the manner of the notorious Corinthian prostitutes has  influence in these verses. Paul seemed to be warning about the appearance of evil, but not sure how it really ties to the cover of a womens head.  We see it today, it seems that visual forms and actions of evil or wrong, soon are accepted by  the new  generations, as the newest fads and trends of behavior, dress and hair style to live by, normally from what I see, as acts of rebellion,  to some form or degree.

Over all, covering a womans head in prayer, was more about obedience and giving honor and respect to God and whom it was due. It seems to be a symbolic ritual to note line of authority and respect. As it says, Christ is the head of man, and women  taken from man, man is her head. Women have the same right to pray and received blessings, but in Gods Kingdom, God teaches there must be order or chaos results.


Women is man's; help mete, she walks along side him, not behind and definitely not in front. They are equal before God, and they work and council as one,  but  man is the head, so there is order in life and here after in God's Kingdom and the Priesthood and Patriarchal line back to Adam.  We each have our agency and weaknesses, but we need God's  help to help us remember our responsibilities and place in life, to be blessed, and so we can bless others.


It seems that the covering of the womens hair, is a reminder that a Women's will, should not subvert her husbands will, if he is honoring Gods. Just as Christ and God is man's,  so with the women, man is hers. This process also helps man to be more responsible and accept his calling before God, to love and protect her. It teaches too, that we should love and respect Women as God respects and loves us all. To me it further implies that to in any way harm or hurt a women, is a very grave offense to God. We each have our stewardships in life, and should learn them, and be happy in them. God's will is not the Worlds way or will, we can only stand before him, by faith and obedience, and sometimes it is not always easy, but we should continue to learn and follow them.


It seems that the hair cover is symbolic of many things.


To me, a women covering her head, is a show of submission to God will, and that her Husband is the one in Authority in that relationship. He stands in God place in the home, if he is righteous.

Comment by James Trimm on October 27, 2011 at 1:37pm



He got it close, but it looks to me from the sentence structure that he got it backwards, it looks like the veil/covering is that which is given to her, in place of her loose, uncovered hair.

Comment by James Trimm on October 27, 2011 at 1:39pm



The point is that it is not in the written Torah, Paul is clearly citing the Oral Torah here:


“A woman goes forth without the payment of the Ketuvah…

If she goes out with her hair uncovered.” (m.Ketuvim 7:6)


 [This prohibition against going out with] an uncovered head is of the Torah;; for it is written, "And he shall uncover the woman's head," (Num. 5:18) and this, it was taught at the school of R. Ishmael, was a warning to the daughters of Israel that they should not go out with uncovered head? —  From the Torah it is quite satisfactory [if her head is covered by] her work-basket; according to traditional Jewish practice, however, she is forbidden [to go out uncovered] even with her basket [on her head].


R. Assi stated in the name of R. Johanan: With a basket [on her head a woman]

is not guilty of [going about with] an uncovered head. In considering this statement,

R. Zera pointed out this difficulty: Where [is the woman assumed to be]? If it be suggested, ‘In the street’, [it may be objected that this is already forbidden by]

Jewish practice; but [if she is] in a court-yard [the objection may be made that] if

that were so you will not leave our father Abraham a [single] daughter who could

remain with her husband! — Abaye, or it might be said, R. Kahana, replied: [The

statement refers to one who walks] from one courtyard into another by way of an


(b.Ketuvot 72a-b)

Comment by Steve & Kara on October 27, 2011 at 6:30pm

I prefer this translation: .because of her hair, in its place, a covering is given to her.

I am so glad you are studying this indepth, I have been covering for many years now and like to find teachings on the subject.


Comment by albert f green on October 27, 2011 at 9:38pm
james, help me out a little bit- in v.10 the part 'because of the angels' which seems to be in all the translations, seems to imply that the covering is more than just a head of hair. thanks for the study.
Comment by James Trimm on October 27, 2011 at 10:59pm

Yes, I am saying that the veil is the covering and it stands in place of her hair.


It is because we read in the Torah:

2 That the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men, that they were fair. And
they took
them wives, whomsoever they chose.
(Gen. 6:2 HRV)

And also as we read in the Book of Enoch:

1 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days
were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters.
2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and
said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of
men and beget us children.'…


1 And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives from all, and
each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile
themselves with them, and they taught them sorcery and spellbinding, and the
cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants.
2 And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants,
(1Enoch 6:1-2)

It is so that the angels should not be tempted.


Comment by GARY ATKINSON on October 28, 2011 at 9:13am
If growing or a abundance of hair is a glory to her because many pagan women were cutting their hair short like a man in that era; and if it is a blessing to grow it; to turn around and make this verse say hair is a woman's glory but cover hair up and make it the emphasis does not make good sense to me. Why would you cover hair if it is her glory? A lot of oral law is just bad commentary and one must eat meat and spit out the bones.


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