1 Corinthians 11:6
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
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(6) Let her also be shorn.—The force of this argument depends on the fact that a woman’s head being uncovered would be regarded by others as implying the same shame as was indicated by a woman’s hair being cut short (i.e., shorn), or altogether removed (i.e., shaven). It is as if the Apostle said—If a woman insists on her right to pray and speak in an assembly with uncovered head, let her carry out this principle to its logical result; let her insist on her right to have her hair cut short, so as to show her equality with man—and what would be thought of her then! No woman with a spark of shame in her would think of doing that. Accordingly you admit that this principle of sexual equality does not apply in all such matters; and it is illogical to argue in favour of any general principle as if it were of universal obligation, when you yourselves admit that it is not applicable in some cases.

11:2-16 Here begin particulars respecting the public assemblies, ch. 1Co 14. In the abundance of spiritual gifts bestowed on the Corinthians, some abuses had crept in; but as Christ did the will, and sought the honour of God, so the Christian should avow his subjection to Christ, doing his will and seeking his glory. We should, even in our dress and habit, avoid every thing that may dishonour Christ. The woman was made subject to man, because made for his help and comfort. And she should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, which looked like a claim of being equal. She ought to have power, that is, a veil, on her head, because of the angels. Their presence should keep Christians from all that is wrong while in the worship of God. Nevertheless, the man and the woman were made for one another. They were to be mutual comforts and blessings, not one a slave, and the other a tyrant. God has so settled matters, both in the kingdom of providence and that of grace, that the authority and subjection of each party should be for mutual help and benefit. It was the common usage of the churches, for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was right that they should do so. The Christian religion sanctions national customs wherever these are not against the great principles of truth and holiness; affected singularities receive no countenance from any thing in the Bible.For if the woman be not covered - If her head be not covered with a veil.

Let her also be shorn - Let her long hair be cut off. Let her lay aside all the usual and proper indications of her sex and rank in life. If it is done in one respect, it may with the same propriety be done in all.

But if it be a shame ... - If custom, nature, and habit; if the common and usual feelings and views among people would pronounce this to be a shame, the other would be pronounced to be a shame also by the same custom and common sense of people.

Let her be covered - With a veil. Let her wear the customary attire indicative of modesty and a sense of subordination. Let her not lay this aside even on any pretence of religion.

6. A woman would not like to be "shorn" or (what is worse) "shaven"; but if she chooses to be uncovered (unveiled) in front, let her be so also behind, that is, "shorn."

a shame—an unbecoming thing (compare 1Co 11:13-15). Thus the shaving of nuns is "a shame."

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: nature itself teacheth, that it is a shameful sight to see a woman revealing the mind and will of God, by an extraordinary pretended revelation, in so indecent a manner, as with her hair all hanging down; let her hair be either shaven off, or at least cut after the manner of men’s hair, if she will neither tie it up artificially, so as to make it a covering for her head, nor put on a veil to cover her: for though a woman prophesying from an extraordinary impulse, be not under the common law of women not speaking in the public assembly, but keeping silence; yet she is under the law of nature to do no such grave and solemn actions in such a rude manner, that from the light of nature, or the common account of all that live in that place, she should be judged to be irreverent and brutish in her religious action. From this text a question hath been started: Whether Christian women may lawfully go without any other covering upon their heads than their hair? I must confess, I see not how such a question can have any bottom in this text, where the apostle is not speaking of women’s ordinary habiting themselves, but only when they prayed and prophesied, and (if I mistake not) when they ministered in prayer and prophecy (as was said before). We now have no such prophetesses; so as I think that question about the lawfulness of women’s going without any other covering upon their heads than their hair, must be determined from other texts, not this, and is best determined from circumstances; for God having given to the woman her hair for a covering and an ornament, I cannot see how it should be simply unlawful; accidentally it may, from the circumstances of pride in her heart that so dresseth herself, or lust and wantonness in others’ hearts; or other circumstances of ill designs and intentions in the woman so dressing herself.

But if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered; if nature teacheth us that it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, it also teacheth us that it is a shame for her to be uncovered, either with her hair, or some artificial covering; which latter seemeth rather to be meant in this place, because divines think, that the face is that part of the head which the apostle here intendeth should be covered in their religious actions, which is not covered with the hair, but with a veil, &c.

For if the woman be not covered,.... That is, if her head is not covered with some sort of covering, as is the custom of the place where she lives,

let her also be shorn; let her hair be cut short; let her wear it as men do theirs; and let her see how she will look, and how she will like that, and how she will be looked upon, and liked by others; everybody will laugh at her, and she will be ashamed of herself:

but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven: as it is accounted in all civilized nations: the very Heathens (a) speak of it as a thing abominable, and of which there should not be one single dreadful example: then let her be covered; with a veil, or any sort of covering in common use.

(a) Vid. Apul. Metamorph. l. 2. p. 21.

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
1 Corinthians 11:6 gives the ground of ἕν ἐστι κ.τ.λ[1768], 1 Corinthians 11:5. That ground is, that the step from not being covered to being shorn is only what consistency demands, while the dishonour again implied in being shorn requires that the woman should be covered; consequently, to be uncovered lies by no means midway between being shorn and being covered as a thing indifferent, but falls under the same moral category as being shorn. For when a woman puts on no covering, when she has once become so shameless, then she should have herself shorn too (in addition). A demand for logical consistency (Winer, p. 292 [E. T. 391]) serving only to make them feel the absurdity of this unseemly emancipation from restraint in public prayer and speaking (for 1 Corinthians 11:5 shows that these rules cannot be general ones, against Hofmann). To understand it simply as a permission, does not suit the conclusion; comp on the contrary κατακαλυπτέσθω.

τὸ κείρ ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι] “Plus est radi (ξυρ.) quam tonderi,” Grotius. Comp Valckenaer. Ξυρ. means to shave, with the razor (ξυρόν). The two words occur together in Micah 1:16, LXX. Note the absence of any repetition of the article in connection with the double description of the one unseemly thing.

[1768] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 11:6, with a second γάρ, presses the above identity; the Ap. bids the woman who discards the veil carry her defiance a step further: “For if a woman is not veiled, let her also crop (her head); but if it is a disgrace for a woman to crop (it) or to keep (it) shaven, let her retain the veil” (καλυπτέσθω, pr[1619] impv[1620], continuous). P. uses the modus tollens of the hypothetical syllogism: “If a woman prefers a bare head, she should remove her hair; womanly feeling forbids the latter, then it should forbid the former, for the like shame attaches to both.” The argument appeals to Gr[1621] and Eastern sentiment; “physical barefacedness led to the inference of moral, in a city like Corinth” (Ev[1622]). κειράσθω and κείρασθαι, aor[1623] mid[1624], denote a single act on the woman’s part, “to cut off her locks”; ξυρᾶσθαι, pres. mid[1625],—a shaven condition; the single art[1626] comprises the infs. in one view.—Paul’s directions do not agree precisely with current practice. Jewish men covered their heads at prayers with the Tallith (cf. the allusion of 2 Corinthians 3:14 ff.)—this custom, retained probably by some Jews at Christian meetings (1 Corinthians 11:4), P. corrects without censure; women were both veiled and kept behind a screen. Amongst the Greeks, both sexes worshipped with uncovered head, although women covered their heads at other times (see Hermann, Gottesdienstl. Alterthümer, § 36, 18 f.; Plato, Phœdo, 89B, ), while Roman men and women alike covered their heads during religious rites (Servius ad Æn., iii., 407). The usage here prescribed seems to be an adaptation of Gr[1627] custom to Christian conceptions. With us the diff[1628] of sex is more strongly marked in the general attire than with the ancients; but the draped head has still its appropriateness, and the distinction laid down in this passage has been universally observed.—The woman is recognised by the side of the man as “praying” and “prophesying” (see note on 1 Corinthians 12:10); there is no ground in the text for limiting the ref[1629] in her case to the exercise of these gifts in domestic and private circles (thus Hf[1630], Bt[1631], and some others); on the contradiction with 1 Corinthians 14:34, see note ad loc[1632] Under the Old Covenant women were at times signally endued with supernatural powers, and the prophetess occasionally played a leading public part (e.g. Deborah and Huldah); in the Christian dispensation, from Acts 1:14 onwards, they receive a more equal share in the powers of the Spirit (see Acts 2:17 f., Galatians 3:28). But in the point of ἐξουσία there lies an ineffaceable distinction.

[1619] present tense.

[1620] imperative mood.

[1621] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1623] aorist tense.

[1624] middle voice.

[1625] middle voice.

[1626] grammatical article.

[1627] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

difference, different, differently.

[1629] reference.

[1630] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1631] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1632] ad locum, on this passage.

6. but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven] i.e. with her hair either cropped close or shaven. This was considered a disgrace. It was the sign of a slave (see Aristophanes, Birds, 911), or of one in mourning and humiliation (Deuteronomy 21:12).

1 Corinthians 11:6. Κειράσθω, let her be shorn) As the hinder part of the head is by nature in the man and the woman respectively, so in general it is becoming the forehead to be in its mode of dressing: 1 Corinthians 11:14. The imperative here is that of permission, but a permission, which has in it mimesis, or a deduction to something unsuitable.[91] So shaving is unbecoming in nuns.—αἰσχρὸν, a shame) So 1 Corinthians 11:14. The opposite, comely, 1 Corinthians 11:13 : glory, 1 Corinthians 11:15.—τὸ κείρασθαι, ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι) the one is more than the other. Micah 1:16, ξύρησαι καὶ κεῖραι. ξυρᾶται, the back part of the head; κείρεται, the forehead. In Mic. already quoted, there follows a gradation in the enlargement of the baldness occasioned by shaving.

[91] A woman would not wish κείρασθαι. But if she wishes to be uncovered in front, let her also be uncovered behind, i.e., κειράσθω. This allusion to the supposed words of the woman, whom he refutes, constitutes the mimesis. See Appendix.—ED.

Verse 6. - Let her also be shorn. Not a command, but, a sort of scornful inference, or reductio ad absurdum. If it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven. When a woman was tried by "the ordeal of the water of jealousy," her head was uncovered by the priest (Numbers 5:18). To be shorn or shaven was a sign of mourning (Deuteronomy 21:12), and was a disgrace inflicted on adulteresses. 1 Corinthians 11:6Shorn or shaven (κείρασθαι ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι)

To have the hair cut close, or to be entirely shaved as with a razor.

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