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 the man to wear a head covering in these instances would indicate disrespect, not only for Jesus Christ as his head, but also for the Supreme Head, Jehovah God, for man is “God’s image and glory,” originally made as God’s representative on earth. He should not obscure this fact by wearing a head covering. The man was created first, prior to the woman; the woman is “out of man” and was created “for the sake of the man.” Her qualities are an expression of the man’s honor and dignity, just as the man’s qualities are a reflection of the honor and dignity of God. Therefore the Christian woman should be happy to acknowledge her subordinate position by the modesty and subjection she displays, and she should be willing to represent this visibly by wearing a veil or other material as a head covering. She should not try to usurp the man’s place, but should, rather, uphold his headship.—1 Cor. 11:7-10.
Paul calls attention to the naturally long hair of the woman in the congregation to which he wrote as a continuous God-given reminder that the woman is by nature subject to the man. She should, therefore, acknowledge this when performing what are customarily the man’s duties in the Christian congregation, and she should wear some form of head covering besides her hair, which she normally always has. She will thereby show that she recognizes the God-ordained headship principle, and that she makes a distinction between her normal daily activities and the performing of special duties in the congregation when, for example, there is no qualified male member present, or when teaching other individuals in the presence of her husband or a male member of the congregation.—1 Cor. 11:11-15.
As a powerful reason for the congregation of God to follow this procedure, the apostle points to the angels of God, who are “sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation.” (Heb. 1:13, 14) These mighty spirit persons are interested in and concerned with Christians keeping their places within God’s arrangement, so that theocratic order and pure worship are maintained before God.
The need for this counsel to the congregation at ancient Corinth is better understood when we realize that it was the general custom then for women always to be veiled in public. Only those of loose morals went unveiled. And the pagan priestesses at the temples evidently followed the practice of removing their veils and letting their hair hang disheveled when claiming to be under divine inspiration. Such a practice in the Christian congregation would be disgraceful and a flouting of Jehovah God’s arrangement of headship and subjection. Paul concluded his argument by saying that, if anyone disputed for any custom other than what he set forth, the congregation should nevertheless follow the apostle’s counsel regarding the wearing of a head covering. This makes such instruction applicable at all times and places in the Christian congregation.—1 Cor. 11:16.
The Hebrews in ancient times, aside from wearing a headdress as an article of apparel, would cover their heads to signify a condition of mourning. (2 Sam 15:30; Jer. 14:3) Women also showed modesty in this way. When Rebekah was about to meet Isaac, “she proceeded to take a headcloth and to cover herself,” evidently as a symbol of her subjection to him as her husband.—Gen. 24:65; see HEADDRESS; HEADSHIP.
The Hebrews apparently placed little emphasis on a covering for the head as a regularly worn article of clothing. When necessary the common people may at times have used the mantle or the robe for this purpose. Ornamental headdress, however, was often worn by men in official positions and by both men and women on festive or special occasions. The priests of Israel had their prescribed form of headgear.—Ex. 28:4, 39, 40.
TYPES OF HEADDRESS IN THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
The head covering first mentioned in the Bible is the headcloth that Rebekah put on when she met Isaac. (Gen. 24:65) The Hebrew word used here is tsa·ʽiphʹ, elsewhere translated “shawl.” (Gen. 38:14, 19) The wearing of this “headcloth” evidently signified Rebekah’s subjection to her betrothed Isaac.
The turban (Heb., mits·neʹpheth) of the high priest was of fine linen, wrapped around the head, having a gold plate tied to its front with blue string. (Ex. 28:36-39; Lev. 16:4) The ornamental headgear of the underpriests was also “wrapped” around the head, but a different Hebrew word (migh·ba·ʽahʹ) is used for their headdress, indicating that it was different in form and perhaps not as elaborate as the high priest’s turban. Nor did the underpriests’ headgear have the gold plate.—Lev. 8:13.
Job mentions the turban in a figurative sense, likening his justice to a turban. (Job 29:14; compare Proverbs 1:9; 4:7-9.) Women sometimes wore this form of headdress. (Isa. 3:23) Here the Hebrew word is tsa·niphʹ. It is used in the expression “kingly turban” at Isaiah 62:3, and, at Zechariah 3:5, for the high priest’s headgear.
The peʼerʹ, evidently turbanlike, was worn by a bridegroom (Isa. 61:10), and was a symbol of joyfulness. (Isa. 61:3; compare Ezekiel 24:17, 23.) This word is also used for the headdress of women (Isa. 3:20), and for that of the priests. (Ezek. 44:18) The headbands (Heb., shevi·simʹ, literally, “little suns”) seem to have been made of network. (Isa. 3:18) The “pendant turbans” (Heb., tevu·limʹ) described by Ezekiel as being on the heads of Chaldean warriors may have been highly colored and decorated.—Ezek. 23:14, 15.
Daniel’s three young Hebrew companions, fully dressed and even wearing caps, were thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. The caps may have been worn to denote their title or rank. Some believe that they were conical in shape.—Dan. 3:21.
ANCIENT AND MODERN NEAR EASTERN HEADGEAR
Most of the representations on monuments and reliefs of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria depict scenes of war and hunting, or of the royal palace or the temples. However, the Egyptians, particularly, have a good many illustrations of workmen plying various arts and trades. In these the kings, chieftains and nobles are shown wearing widely varying forms of headdress, while the common people are often pictured without head covering, or sometimes with a rather close-fitting headgear.
A very similar form of headdress in the Near East today is the kaffiyeh, worn by the Bedouin. It consists of a square cloth folded so that three corners hang down over the back and shoulders. It is bound on with a cord around the head, leaving the face exposed and affording protection from sun and wind for the head and neck. It is possible that such a covering for the head was worn anciently by the Hebrews.
HEAD COVERING AND FEMININE SUBJECTION
The apostle Paul directed that women have on a head covering when praying or prophesying in the Christian congregation. The woman thereby acknowledged the headship principle, according to which the man is the head of the woman, Christ is man’s head and, in turn, God is the head of Christ. Paul said that a woman’s long hair is naturally given to her “instead of a headdress.” The apostle was then writing to the Christians at Corinth, living among Europeans and Semites, with whom this natural distinction between males and females as to length of hair was the case. Slave women and those caught in fornication or adultery had their heads shaved. Paul pointed out that the long hair of a woman was a natural evidence of her womanly position under man’s headship. The woman, seeing this natural reminder of her subjection, should, in consequence, wear a form of head covering as a “sign of authority” on her head when praying or prophesying in the congregation, as her own personal recognition before others, including the angels, of the headship principle. (1 Cor. 11:3-16) This had doubtless been the practice of prophetesses of ancient times, such as Deborah (Judg. 4:4) and Anna (Luke 2:36-38), when they prophesied.—See CROWN; DRESS; HAIR.
[Picture on page 725]
“Kaffiyeh” worn by modern Bedouin
The basic principle of headship is set out at 1 Corinthians 11:3: “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.”
The first part of this counsel on headship applied to the man; he is not independent and without need to recognize a “head.” Rather, he is obliged to follow the directions and pattern provided by his head Christ. (1 John 2:6) This is so, not only in regard to his religious activities (Matt. 28:19, 20), but also in his personal activities. For instance, if he is a family man, then out of respect for his own head, Christ, he should comply with the counsel to dwell with his wife according to knowledge, ‘assigning her honor as to a weaker vessel,’ and he should put forth an earnest effort to train his children properly. (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 6:4) This counsel was provided in the Bible for all in Christ’s congregation; so respect for headship is involved in a man’s heeding it.—Eph. 5:23.
As man had priority in human creation, he is given priority of position over the woman. (1 Tim. 2:12, 13) The woman was made from a rib taken from the man, and was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. (Gen. 2:22, 23) She was created for the sake of the man, not the man for her sake. (1 Cor. 11:9) Therefore, the woman, in God’s arrangement for the family, was always to be in subjection to her husband and was not to usurp his authority. (Eph. 5:22, 23; 1 Pet. 3:1) Also, in the Christian congregation the woman is not to teach other dedicated men nor to exercise authority over them.—l Tim. 2:12.
Among the Hebrews of ancient times the superior position occupied by the man in the family and in the tribal arrangement was recognized. Sarah was submissive, calling Abraham “lord,” and is favorably mentioned for this recognition of his headship. (Gen. 18:12; 1 Pet. 3:5, 6) Under the Law covenant the preferred position of the male was emphasized. Only the males were required by command to assemble for the three festivals of Jehovah at the place that God chose, although women also attended. (Deut. 16:16) The woman was ceremonially “unclean” twice as long after the birth of a baby girl as after that of a baby boy.—Lev. 12:2, 5.
In ancient times, there were circumstances under which a woman put on a head covering to denote subjection. (Gen. 24:65) Discussing the headship arrangement in the Christian congregation, the apostle Paul explained that, if a woman prays or prophesies in the congregation, occupying a position God has assigned to the man, she should have on a head covering. In temporarily doing these things because no dedicated male Christian is present to do them, even though she may have long hair, the woman should not argue that her long hair is sufficient to denote her subjection. Instead, she should let her own actions demonstrate her submissiveness and her acknowledgment of man’s headship. The Christian woman does this by wearing a head covering as a “sign of authority.” This should be done “because of the angels,” who observe the Christian’s actions and who are concerned with the Christian congregation as those ministering to it. By wearing a head covering when necessary for spiritual reasons, the Christian woman acknowledges God’s headship arrangement.—1 Cor. 11:5-16; Heb. 1:14.
This proper theocratic order in the congregation and in the family arrangement does not hinder the woman in serving God nor restrict or trammel her efforts in carrying out her family activities and responsibilities. It allows her full and Scriptural freedom to serve in her place, while still being pleasing to God in harmony with the principle: “God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased.” (1 Cor. 12:18) Many women of ancient times had fine privileges while recognizing the headship of the man and enjoyed happy and satisfying lives, among these being Sarah, Rebekah, Abigail, and Christian women such as Priscilla and Phoebe.
The exercise of authorized headship grants certain rights, but it also involves duties or obligations. ‘Christ is head of the congregation’ and so has the right to make decisions involving it and demonstrate authority over it. (Eph. 5:23) But his headship also obliges him to accept the duty of caring for the congregation and bearing responsibility for his decisions. In a similar manner a husband in exercising his headship has certain rights as far as making final decisions and providing oversight. In addition, though, he has the duty to accept responsibility for his family. He has the primary obligation to provide materially and spiritually for his household.—1 Tim. 5:8.
The Christian man is to exercise his headship wisely, loving his wife as himself. (Eph. 5:33) Jesus Christ exercises his headship over the Christian congregation in this manner. (Eph. 5:28, 29) As head over his children, a father is not to irritate them, but is to bring them up “in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) And as shepherds of the flock of God, “older men” in the Christian congregation are not to lord it over God’s “sheep,” but are to remember their subjection to Jesus Christ and Jehovah God. (1 Pet. 5:2-4) Jesus Christ has always acted in accord with the headship principle, manifesting full recognition of his Father’s headship in word and deed. Even after ruling the earth for a thousand years, he will acknowledge Jehovah’s universal headship by handing the Kingdom over to Jehovah, subjecting “himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28; John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14:28; Phil. 2:5-8) Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, also acknowledge Jehovah’s supreme headship, addressing their prayers to him and recognizing him as Father and God Almighty.—Matt. 6:9; Rev. 1:8; 11:16, 17; see FAMILY; HUSBAND.
The restoring of health to the sick; the making sound or whole that which is broken or injured; the curing of various diseases and defects; the returning of a person to the general state of well-being. Several Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible describe such healing in both a literal and a figurative