Top Knot Come Down!
I had come into the faith when I was 18 years old and the Pastor who baptized me felt obligated to keep me in the faith. He warned me about fanaticism and how easily someone could be "taken in" by a false doctrine through twisted scriptures. As I recall, there were some people in churches who believe that a woman dressing her hair in what some call a “top knot” was in some way evil. And to prove their point that the Bible itself warned against this supposed evil they used Matthew 24:17 which says, “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house!” How did this Bible verse justify the condemnation of a popular hair style? Well if you isolate the words “top not come down” you start to see where the fanaticism begins. The word “not” becomes a play on words! “Not” sounds like the word “knot” and by changing “not” to “knot” one manufactures the proof text needed to discourage women from wearing the “top knot”. As you can see, fanatics are converting Yeshua's warning about the end of the world to promote the idea that the “Top knot must come down.”
This is probably one of the most egregious, yet straight forward examples of Bible twisting I have ever seen. But this form of scripture manipulation is not isolated to the Christian Church alone. Many Jewish traditions have been formed in the same way. So when we look at the physical head coverings, we can see that Jewish society used biblical scriptures to justify their convictions. But were their convictions based upon thir ignorance and embellishment of unrelated scriptures? Is this is the case, is there a way or a place we can go to untangle these doctrines and and determine the truth? First of all, we need to consider whether or not it is important to resolve matters like these. Think about it, if we are in a church today that enforces head coverings as a commandment, we can always ago to another church where it is not an issue. But when the God of Israel takes the reins of government into His hands and the Laws of the Kingdom of Heaven are employed here on earth. Controversies within the community of believers at that time will be settled by the Law of Moses. Note the following scripture:
“If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place YHWH Elohiym will choose. Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the YHWH will choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to YHWH Elohiym must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.” (Deuteronomy 17:8-13) Note in this passage of the Law, that if there have always been issues designed to fragment the church. But for those who seek unity of the faith, there is a path of escalation that leads to the Priesthood. They are tasked by the God of Israel to settle the matters for the community once and for all. These Priests are not given the authority to settle matters arbitrarily; they will settle matters based upon the instructions given to Moses rather than their personal opinions. Are we preparing for these days that are certain to come? Do we know the instructions of Moses well enough that we will not rise up against their judgment should the standards we advocate be found unlawful?
Does the Law of Moses uphold the doctrine of physical head covers for a woman or does it find the doctrine unlawful?There is a commandment among the Israelites stating that a man suspecting that his wife has been unfaithful should be brought to the Priest to determine if the woman is guilty of adultery or not. “The priest shall set the woman before YHWH, and "uncover" the woman's head ... and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causes the curse: And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say to the woman, If no man has laid with thee, and if thou has not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of your husband, be you free from this bitter water that causes the curse”. (Numbers 5:18-19) The portion of the passage used by Rabbinic Jews to imply that women wore head coverings is at the very beginning of the passage where the Priest “uncovers the woman’s head”. If it was truly shameful for a woman to have her head uncovered, especially in the temple where the presence of YHWH dwelled, why is the Priest commanded to remove her head cover?
But even the matter of removing a physical head covering by the Priest is questionable as interpreted in some of our English translations. The English word “uncover” in the King James version comes from the Hebrew word “pawrah” (H6544). It means to “let down” or go free or wild. So rather than the Priest taking off a physical head covering, the priest is loosening the woman’s hair so that it falls wherever it pleases. This would indicate that it was not unlawful for a woman to have her hair covered since the Priest is letting her hair down instead of lifting off a physical head covering. We can be even more certain that the word “pawrah” does not refer to a physical head cover by looking at other portions of scripture to see how the word is used. Next we have a situation where a man or woman has contracted an infectious skin disease. If the person was unable to remedy the situation, a specific dress style was commanded so that the common people could detect that someone was contagious in their midst. “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45)
Note that the condition of the hair was to be unkempt. This is the same Hebrew word “pawrah” used when the Priest “let loose” the accused woman’s hair. Consider that the woman's hair was most likely bound in some way prior to the Priest loosening it. The “covering worn by the leper is (pronounced “atah” H5844). Note that this covering was not to be worn over the head; on the contrary, it was placed just above the upper lip to cover the face. The lepers of Israel were not necessarily condemned to be isolated forever. Should their condition improve and they were healed of their disease, they were commanded to go to the Sanctuary and present themselves before the Priests. The diseased man or woman would come to the sanctuary with their heads uncovered (pawrah). They could resume their former practice of wearing a head covering if they so desired, (A practice that was not unusual in Middle Eastern cultures)
Evidence shows the Law of Moses does not condemn a common man or woman who is not wearing a head covering even while in the presence of the God of Israel. Neither does He condemn a man or woman who chooses to wear some type of covering. How a man or woman dresses, provided they are dressed modestly, is a choice for each man or woman to make. If you feel you can improve the connection between you and your Creator by wearing a head cover, then wear a head cover. But if a person is teaching that the God of Israel commands the wearing of a physical head cover, then that person is taking the name of YHWH in vain and teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.