Israel’s head. He apparently refers to the subjection under which God’s people were brought by mere worldly men (the Hebrew word used is ʼenohshʹ, “mortal man”) who were powerful, cruel and haughty. (Ps. 66:12; compare Isaiah 51:23.) The Jews developed a custom of swearing by their heads, a practice Jesus condemned.—Matt. 5:36, 37.
REPRESENTING THE PERSON
The head as the governing member of the body was also used to represent the person himself. The head of a Nazirite was under a vow, his long hair attesting to the fact. (Num. 6:5, 18-20) The sins or errors of a person were spoken of as being over his head. (Ezra 9:6; Ps. 38:4; compare Daniel 1:10.) When judgment catches up with the wicked one he is said to be recompensed by having his evil or his punishment come upon his own head. (Judg. 9:57; 1 Sam. 25:39; Jer. 23:19; 30:23; Joel 3:4, 7; Obad. 15; compare Nehemiah 4:4.) One’s bloodguilt or blood being on his own head meant that an individual pursuing a wrong course of action worthy of bringing the death sentence was personally responsible for the loss of his life. (2 Sam. 1:16; 1 Ki. 2:37; Ezek. 33:2-4; Acts 18:6) To bring back on his head the blood of those a person killed would be to bring him to judgment for bloodguilt. (1 Ki. 2:32, 33) With similar significance, the sins of the people were confessed by Israel’s high priest, with his hands on the head of the goat for Azazel (transferring the sins to the goat), after which the animal was led into the wilderness to carry these errors off into oblivion. (Lev. 16:7-10, 21, 22) As other texts show, Jesus Christ personally ‘carried our sicknesses and bore our pains’ and ‘bore the sins of many.’—Isa. 53:4, 5; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24.
EXALTATION, HUMILIATION, CONTEMPT
God’s favor, guidance and wisdom are likened to a lamp shining on the head and a wreath of charm on the head. (Job 29:3; Prov. 4:7-9) The wise man’s “eyes are in his head,” that is, he sees where he is going. (Eccl. 2:14) King David, bowed in humiliation and trouble, looked to Jehovah as his Shield and the One ‘lifting up his head,’ enabling him to hold his head high again. (Ps. 3:3; compare Luke 21:28.) He also showed appreciation for reproof from the righteous, calling it oil which his head would not want to refuse. (Ps. 141:5) To bow down the head was a sign of humility or mourning (Isa. 58:5), and to wag or shake the head was symbolic of derision, contempt or astonishment.—Ps. 22:7; Jer. 18:15, 16; Matt. 27:39, 40; Mark 15:29, 30.
KINDNESS TO ENEMIES
The Bible recommends that one treat his enemy kindly, “for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head.” (Rom. 12:20; Prov. 25:21, 22) This metaphor is drawn from the ancient process of smelting, where coals were heaped on top of the ore as well as being underneath. So exercising kindness will tend to soften the person and melt his hardness, separating evil impurities and bringing out the good in him.
“Head” could refer to the chief member of a family, tribe, nation or government. (Judg. 11:8; 1 Sam. 15:17; 1 Ki. 8:1; 1 Chron. 5:24) “Patriarch” (Gr., pa·tri·arʹkhes) is, literally, “family head.” (Acts 2:29; 7:8, 9; Heb. 7:4) Hence, “at the head” was used in the sense of leading. (Mic. 2:13) Israel itself, if obedient to God, was to be at the head of the nations, on top, in that the nation would be free and prosperous, even having the people of other nations in their debt. (Deut. 28:12, 13) If the Israelites disobeyed, the alien resident would lend to them, becoming head over them.—Deut. 28:43, 44.
Seven heads of the dragon
The “dragon” seen in heaven in the apostle John’s vision had seven heads. It is identified as the Devil. (Rev. 12:3, 9) Additionally, the “wild beast” on earth, which receives its power from the dragon, and also the “scarlet-colored wild beast” are both depicted as having seven heads, and these heads are clearly used to represent world powers. (Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 9, 10; compare Daniel 2:32, 37, 38, where King Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty is called a “head.”) Hence, the seven diademed heads of the Dragon would evidently point to Satan’s headship over the seven world powers of Bible prophecy.—Eph. 6:12; see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC; GOG No. 2.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST
TO THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
In the Christian congregation Jesus Christ is the Head of the congregation, which is his “body,” of 144,000 members. (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18; Rev. 14:1) Having immortality, he is the ever-living liaison member of the body of spirit-begotten Christians on earth at any given time, supplying all necessary things for them to grow spiritually and function to God’s glory. (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:15, 16; Col. 2:18, 19) As the material temple had a “headstone” (Zech. 4:7), so Jesus is the Headstone of the spiritual temple (Acts 4:8-11; 1 Pet. 2:7) and the Head of all government and authority under God, who is the Head over all. (Col. 2:10; 1 Cor. 11:3) The Bible likens Christ’s position as Head of the congregation to that of a husband toward his wife, to impress upon human married couples the direction, love and care the husband must exercise and the subjection that the wife must manifest within the marital union.—Eph. 5:22-33.
The apostle Paul, drawing on the principle of the primary headship of God, the Head of Christ, and the relative headship of the man over the woman, sets forth the principle governing the Christian congregation, namely, that the woman should recognize the God-ordained headship of man by wearing a head covering, a “sign of authority,” upon her head when praying or prophesying in the congregation.—1 Cor. 11:3-16; see HAIR; HEADDRESS; HEADSHIP.
The Hebrew word for “head” is used to refer to the tops of pillars of the tabernacle, the courtyard and the temple (Ex. 36:37, 38; 38:17; 1 Ki. 7:16), as well as to the tops of mountains (Gen. 8:5), of bushes or trees (1 Chron. 14:15), of a ladder (Gen. 28:12) and of a scepter (Esther 5:2), to cite a few examples. It is also applied to that which is the head of or the beginning of something, such as the first month (“the start [head] of the months” [Ex. 12:2]). The Jewish name for their new year’s day is Rosh Hashana, meaning, literally, “Head of the Year.” Roʼsh is also used to refer to the head of rivers and of roads.—Gen. 2:10; Ezek. 21:21; see ATTITUDES AND GESTURES; HAND.
Aside from being an item of dress, head covering has a spiritual significance among God’s servants, as a symbolic figure in connection with headship and subjection. The apostle Paul sets forth the God-ordained principle of headship operative in the Christian congregation, saying: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Paul points out that a head covering is a “sign of authority” that the woman should wear in acknowledging the headship of the man, submitting herself to proper theocratic authority, when she is praying or prophesying in the congregation.—1 Cor. 11:4-6, 10.
The apostle shows, conversely, that the man should not wear a head covering when taking the lead before the congregation, such as praying or prophesying. It is his normal position under God’s arrangement. For