How important is our appearance? How much emphasis does Yahweh place on it? It has been proposed that if women dress in today’s styles and wear make-up, Yahweh looks on them as whores. Is that true? Let’s look at some scriptures regarding our dress and styles and see what the Word says. And also what it does not say. The verses quoted will be from the King James unless otherwise specified. The statements from other sources will be direct quotes.
II Kings 9:30
"And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window."
Okay, in today’s terms, she "put on her face," "fixed" her hair and went to the window to watch for Jehu’s arrival. She wanted to look her best and simply got ready to receive company. It does not say that she put on the eye paint in order to seduce Jehu. It was a part of her daily grooming routine.
Two questions --
- If the paint is wrong, what about combing the hair and looking out the window? Harlots do those things, too.
- If she were desiring to seduce Jehu, why did she make a point to provoke him, so much as to bring about her own demise?
"Moreover, Yahweh says, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet."
This is describing the seductive movements of the women. It makes no mention of make-up or painted eyes. Some versions translate "wanton" as "deceiving". But that Hebrew word is shakar. The word used here is sakar, meaning "to ogle; to blink coquettishly." It reflected what was on their minds: their desire and attitude, not their make-up.
"And when you are spoiled, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you deck you with ornaments of gold, though you rent your face with painting,, in vain shall you make yourself fair; your lovers will despise you, they will seek your life."
This does not say the paint itself is wrong. It says it will make the woman fair! "Fair" is the Hebrew word yapheh, #3303. It means "beautiful (literally or figuratively) -- beauty, comely, pleasant." The paint will beautify her. The problem is not the paint. It is her efforts to save herself that are futile. She is doing it in vain, because Yahweh said her destruction is coming and she cannot change that.
What about the crimson clothing? Is it wrong, as some have said, to wear bright red? Is it the color of a whore? Crimson (scarlet; red) is a part of the household of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:21 -- "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet."
Ezekiel 23:40 - 41
"And furthermore, that you have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom you did wash yourself, painted your eyes, and decked yourself with ornaments. And sat upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon you have set mine incense and mine oil."
If you say from this verse that painting the eyes is wrong because a harlot did it, then are you putting washing oneself in the same category? Also sitting on a bed? Or preparing a table? Would these things described here be wrong if done in the privacy of a home between a married couple?
Can we just pick and choose? Can we take a scripture out of context and use it to build a doctrine? There is no "thou shalt not" from Yahweh regarding make-up and cosmetics. Could it be that the make-up itself is not wrong, but the abuse of it is the problem? Many things can be wrong, taken to the extreme. Sex, created by Yahweh and beautiful between a man and wife, is condemned when it is abused and used wrongly, as with harlotry.
"When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face."
What? This must have been the custom of the time. Upon seeing her, he believed her to be a harlot, because she had covered her face , not because she had painted her eyes!
From Clarke’s Commentary, vol 1, page 225 --
"It appears that in very ancient times there were public persons of this description, and they generally veiled themselves, sat in public places by the highway side, and received certain hire."
From Illustratrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., editor, page 258 --
Cosmetics are defined as "items such as ointments, perfume, and eye paint used to enhance a person’s appearance in Bible times. The biblical writers referred to disreputable women who used excessive eye paint (Jer 4:30; Ezek 23:40). Ointments or perfumes were expensive substances used for personal adornment as well as the anointing of bodies for burial (Song of Solomon 1:13; Luke 7:37)."
Notice that the cosmetics were not defined as wrong -- just the excessive use of them.
"Lust not after her beauty in your heart; neither let her take you with her eyelids."
Eye-paint and make-up are not mentioned here. Those products are not required for seduction. "Eyelids" is Strongs #6079, afal, meaning "an eyelash, as fluttering." Batting her eyelashes? Flirting?
Proverbs 7:10 - 12
"And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lies in wait at every corner.)"
This describes a harlot and her activities and attitude. There is no mention of make-up. It does mention her clothing -- could it be due to its IMmodesty? Or could there have been a particular mark to her clothing to identify her as such? Remember the story The Scarlet Letter?
"And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me, says Yahweh."
Once again, no mention of a painted face. But it does mention earrings and jewels. Must we assume those are wrong, too, because a harlot uses them to adorn herself?
"And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch."
After Job had been through all his trials, Yahweh blessed him with seven sons and three daughters. It says the young women were the fairest in the land. The third daughter, Kerenhappuch, had an unusual name. It is Strongs #7163, meaning "horn (or flask) of cosmetic, specifically stibium for the eyes." It is the equivalent of naming a girl Mascara today. This is after Job’s repentance. Would a righteous man give his daughter such a name if Yahweh condemned it?
From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume III, page 1793 --
"Keren-happuch, ‘horn of antimony’, i.e. beautifier. The third daughter of Job (Job 42:14), born after his restoration from affliction. Antimony, producing a brilliant black, was used among the Orientals for coloring the edges of the eyelids, making the eyes large and lustrous. Hence the suggestiveness of this name of an article of the ladies’ toilet, a little horn or receptacle for the eye-paint."
So where do cosmetics come from? What was their origin? Was it associated first with idolatry? Or harlotry?
In History of Technology, vol 1, pp 286-292-3 --
"In the West, cosmetics could hardly be regarded among the necessities of life, but in the ancient Near East they were in universal demand for protection against the blistering heat of summer; their use was an essential part of general hygiene. . . eyepaints were used to avert the eye diseases that are still the scourge of the Near East. . . . we can follow the progressive change of eyepaint from a real defence against flies and infection into one of many beauty preparations."
From the Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, vol 7, p 67 --
"Cosmetics -- general term applied to all preparations used externally to beautify the body, as by cleaning, coloring, or conditioning the skin, hair, nails, lips, or eyes. Perfumery is usually excluded from the field of cosmetics, although many cosmetic preparations are scented, and perfumes are commonly manufactured in connection with cosmetics.
"The use of cosmetics dates back to the remotest antiquity. Although it is generally believed that cosmetics as they are now known originated in the Far East, the study of primitive cultures indicates that forms of cosmetic beautification have been practiced in every part of the world.
"The earliest historical record of cosmetics comes from the First Dynasty of the Egyptian Empire, between 5000 and 3500 BC. Tombs of this era have yielded unguent jars, and from remains of later periods it is evident that the unguents were scented. Such preparations, as well as perfumed oils, were extensively used by both men and women to keep the skin supple and unwrinkled in the dry heat of Egypt."
From Manners and Customs in the Bible, by Victor H. Matthews --
Page 4 -- "In Mesopotamia and other regions where the climate was dry, the complexion could be easily damaged. As a result, meticulous attention was given to skin care. Both men and women regularly oiled their skin and hair. This gave the body a glossy appearance and also killed hair lice and other parasites."
Page 122 -- "That both Jeremiah (4:30) and Ezekiel (23:40) speak of women who enlarged their eyes with eye paint, however, suggests that it was a common practice in Israel as well as the rest of the ancient Near East. Analysis of deposits of this eye paint from Egyptian tombs and from cosmetic palettes found by archaeologists has shown that it consisted primarily of crushed galena mixed with gum and water.
"Red dyes made from iron oxide (red ochre) or crushed leaves of the henna plant have also been found in Egyptian tombs. This mixture would have been applied to cheeks, lips, finger and toe nails, and hair to add color to a woman’s appearance.
"Perfumes of various types were used by the Israelites to mask household odors and as incense offerings in shrines and temples. Several personal fragrances and soaps (Jeremiah 2:22) were used by women as part of their attempts to cleanse and purify the body."
Looking at the above scripture in Jeremiah, Yahweh does not condemn the use of the soap today listed among the cosmetic items. He just points out that no matter how hard a person scrubs, the soap will not wash away sin and iniquity. Just dirt.
From Bible Life and Times, by Reader’s Digest, page 87 --
"In the ancient Near East, men and women used a wide range of preparations to enhance beauty and soothe skin parched by the hot, dry climate. Men rubbed oil onto their skin, hair, and beard. The oil was extracted from almonds, olives, and fish and animal fat was perfumed with fragrances such as saffron, balsam, and cinnamon. Oils offered some protection from the sun and masked body odor in a time when bathing was infrequent."
"Women used body oil, as well as eye paint, rouge, powder, and perfume. Minerals were often crushed and mixed with gum or water to create kohl or antimony, and the eyes might be heavily outlined with this paint. Egyptians painted the upper eyelid black and applied a green paste made from ground turquoise or malachite to the lower lid. Mesopotamian women used red and yellow paints. Eye paint not only accentuated the eyes but also protected against the glare of the sun and insects. The Bible sometimes associates painting the eyes with women of ill repute, such as when the wicked queen Jezebel ‘painted her eyes, and adorned her head’ (II Kings 9:30) before taunting Jehu."
"Lips and possibly cheeks were colored with red ocher, and crushed henna leaves made a reddish dye that was used on hair and nails. Sumerian women used yellow ochre as face powder, known as ‘face bloom.’ Cosmetics were kept in small stone or pottery jars -- the rich had finely crafted glass and ivory containers -- and were applied by fingertips or tiny bone spatulas."
From Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life, by Madeleine S. and J. Lane Miller --
Pages 74-75 -- "When ointments and perfumes are discussed in tandem it becomes evident that perfumes for the ancients covered a much larger slice of life than they do for us and were far more necessary to them."
"Though they washed their hands regularly before meals, the Israelites washed their bodies less than the Egyptians, and when they did they usually followed a washing with a gentle rubbing of the skin with olive oil to restore the natural body oils to the skin. Such a bath and cosmetic care of the body were required when terminating periods of ritual uncleanness or mourning. Anointing the hair was a method of cleaning and grooming (Psalms 23:5; Matthew 6:17). Only royalty and the wealthy could enjoy bathing in an artificial pool or a running stream on their property; indoors these same fortunate ones would be bathed standing, by servants who poured water from jars over them. After such a bath the body was anointed with olive oil to replace the natural oils of the skin."
"Palestine is a hot country during the summer. Olive oil (and other ointments, if one could afford them) applied before, during, or after exposure, preserved the skins of those who had to labor in the outdoors during the summer."
Page 84 -- "There has never been a time in recorded history when cosmetics have not been used, and by males as well as females."
"When the Bible moves into a historical framework, as it does with the Israelites in Egypt before the Exodus, cosmetics that bear comparison with those of our modern era were well established among the Egyptians. Out of the development of ointments for healing and incense for ritual purposes had come creams and pomades of various sorts to protect the body against the sun, to cleanse the tissues and tone the muscles, especially of the face and neck, arms and hands. These cosmetic oils and creams were highly perfumed, for the Egyptians loved strong scents. The Egyptians bathed more frequently than the other ancient peoples, and afterwards they applied, or had a servant apply, oils and creams to the entire body. The Mesopotamians and the Semites generally washed their bodies only for a special occasion, and anything resembling a facility for bathing was found only in the homes of the rich."
Page 87 -- "In the field of cosmetics for purposes of beautification only, the Egyptians were the innovators. Ultimately the Romans, including men became the most conspicuous users of perfumes."
"In the lands along the Fertile Crescent, however, what we today call make-up, except for hair grooming, was used largely by women. Rouge, powder, and hair dye are not mentioned in the Bible."
"The eye paint used by women of the Bible was originally a mineral ingredient, mixed with water or a gum dissolved in water, to form a paste. At first no fats, oils, or resins were used. Galena, a lead sulphide, gave a black color. (The Arabic word for galena was ‘kohl’.) Malachite, a copper compound, gave a brilliant green color."
"Galena had originally been used to treat various eye infections, and the copper compound was a common ingredient in Egyptian medicines. As cosmetics became more sophisticated and less medically oriented, galena and malachite were supplanted by the green resin of conifers and blackening materials such as burned almond shells and soot."
Page 88 -- "The use of rouge on the cheeks and lips goes back to the beginning of history and no doubt much earlier. In the lands of the Bible, rouge was made from various vegetable extracts obtained from such common by seemingly unlikely sources as seaweeds, snails, lichens, and the juice of the fruit of the mulberry tree."
"The fingernail and toenail paint and the hair dye of biblical people was henna. More precisely, the cosmetic dye used was red ocher, essentially a hydrated iron oxide, which, in its mixture with other natural, earthy materials, provided pigments ranging in color from an orange-yellow to deep, coppery red."
Okay, what about the clothing? It has been said a harlot can be identified by it. Always? Could there be some women dressed nicely and neatly -- modestly -- who still carry out the lifestyle of a harlot? You can’t always "read a book by the cover". What about us? Is Yahweh specific? Is it okay for women to wear slacks? Must our dresses come to our ankles?
"The woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto Yahweh your Elohim."
Since the words in this statement make a difference in the understanding, here is the same verse from The Interlinear Bible, translated directly from the Hebrew -- "There shall not be the thing of a man on a woman nor shall a man take on a woman’s garment for it is an abomination to Yahweh your Elohim whoever does these things."
"Thing" -- Strongs #3627, klee, means "something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon) -- armor, artillery, bag, instrument, sack, stuff, tool, vessel, weapon."
This word appears in the Hebrew in the Old Testament over 390 times. In The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament, by George V. Wigram, it shows every use of that word. It is interesting that in the entire listing, it has not once been translated as "garment," "clothing," "apparel," etc. It is the same word that is used when referring to an object that is used as an instrument or tool. It is the word that is used when referring to the vessels in the tabernacle.
"Man" -- Strongs #1397, gever means "a valiant man or warrior; generally a person." It doesn’t necessarily mean a warrior every time. A man can be mighty in many ways -- such as mighty in Yahweh. It’s root word, #1396, gabar, means "to be strong, be mighty, valiant." From this root comes the phrase El Gebor -- Mighty El.
This verse is often used to say that women should not wear slacks, even if they are designed specifically for women. Slacks for men and women are cut somewhat differently. My question is -- how can that be applied to this verse? At the time it was written, even the men did not wear slacks or pants. In Exodus, Yahweh gave Moses the instructions for making breeches for the priests, to wear only when they were in His service. These were holy garments -- to be used only at specific times, in a specific place. There is no instruction anywhere for the rest of the men -- or women -- to have them.
From Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, by J. I. Packer, M. C. Tenney, editors, page 484 --
"Among the Hebrews breeches were worn only by the priests. In some neighboring countries, both breeches and trousers were worn by common man."
From The Torah, A Modern Commentary , edited by W. Gunther Plaut --
Page 1485 -- "The Hebrew is more general and says ‘man’s gear.’"
Page 1490 -- "The Torah forbids the wearing of apparel customary for the opposite sex. From this rule, tradition concluded that "man’s apparel" included implements of war, and a midrash explained that this was the reason for Jael killing Sisera with tent pin and mallet (Judges 4:17-21), because as a woman she was not supposed to wield a man’s weapon."
"On the island of Cos, says Plutarch, priests of Hercules dressed as women; while, in Rome, men who participated in the vernal mysteries of that god did likewise. So too in the cult of Dionysus, males often adopted feminine costume, just as at the annual festival of Oschophoria boys were attired as girls and, at the Skirophoria, men were garbed like women. The same practice is attested also in connection with the cult of Leukippos in Crete..."
"The origin of the custom is disputed. According to some scholars, it is a method of assimilating the worshiper to the person of the deity (though it is difficult then to explain why the devotees of the male Hercules affected feminine attire). According to others, it is a form of disguise, designed to foil demons and similar obnoxious spirits."
Maybe it isn’t totally clear to us today, due to the language barriers. And the traditions of Judaism are involved in the definition of the words, according to what the word has come to mean over time. If this verse simply meant the clothing of the common man, why were these other two words used? If it simply referred to clothing, rather than "things", why isn’t the word "garment" in the first half of the verse as well as the second? There has to be a difference of some sort here.
From Jamieson, Fausset and Brown --
"Disguises were assumed at certain times in heathen temples. Maimonides mentions that a man attired in a coloured female dress, in honor of Venus, Ashtaroth, or Astarte, and a woman equipped in armour, worshipped at the shrine of the statue of Mars. The old Asiatics, when they engaged in the worship of Ashtaroth, were accustomed, according to Philocorus, quoted by Townley, to exchange the male and female dresses. In fact, all idolaters confounded the sexes of their deities - representing them sometimes as male, at other times as female, and hence their worshippers, male and female, fell gradually into the custom, which became extensively prevalent of changing their attire in adaptation to the sex of a particular divinity. It is probable that a reference was made to unbecoming levities practiced in common life. They were properly forbidden; for the adoption of the habiliments of the one sex by the other is an outrage on decency, obliterates the distinctions of nature by fostering softness and effeminacy in the men, impudence and boldness in the woman, as well as levity and hypocrisy in both, and, in short, opens the door to an influx of so many evils, that all who wear the dress of another sex are pronounced ‘an abomination unto the Lord’."
From Adam Clarke’s Commentary --
"...signifies a strong man or a man of war. It is very probable that armour is here intended; especially as we know that in the worship of Venus, to which that of Astarte or Ashtaroth among the Canaanites bore a striking resemblance, the women were accustomed to appear in armour before her. It certainly cannot mean a simple change in dress, whereby the men might pass for women, and vice versa. This would have been impossible in those countries where the dress of the sexes had but little to distinguish it, and where every man wore a long beard. It is, however, a very good general precept understood literally, and applies particularly to those countries where the dress alone distinguishes between the male and the female."
From Atlas of the Bible, by Reader’s Digest --
Page 12 -- There is "a famous wall painting, dating from the early 19th century B.C., found on the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman at Beni Hasan. It depicts a Semitic clan arriving in Egypt to trade black eye-paint for grain, and their apparel is probably much the same as that worn by Abraham and his family. The men’s sandals are apparently made of leather thongs, while the women’s and boy’s low boots seem to be fashioned out of soft leather. Most of the group are wearing multicolored tunics -- an example of the preference for colorful attire that marked the Hebrews’ clothing in the biblical era."
Page 16 -- "In the time of Jesus, Jews of both sexes wore a linen undergarment and a woolen tunic that covered the body from the lower neck to well below the knees. Over this was draped a cloak that served variously as topcoat, blanket, bedroll, carpet, and even as collateral for loans -- provided the borrower was allowed the used of it at night. To keep the voluminous tunic from billowing awkwardly, men and women wore belts of rope, leather, or cloth, sometimes highly decorated."
From The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible, by Reader’s Digest, page 169 --
"The first thing a man put on was either a loincloth or a short skirt from waist to knee. This was all he wore when he was doing heavy work."
"Over the top of this came a shirt or tunic made of wool or linen. This was like a big sack; a long piece of material folded at the centre and sewn up the sides, with holes for the arms and a slit at the folded end for the head to go through. The skirt was calf-length for a man and coloured, usually red, yellow, black or striped. A woman’s tunic came down to her ankles and was often blue. Often it was embroidered on the yoke with a special pattern. Each village had it’s own traditional pattern of embroidery. Apart from these features a woman’s tunic would be very similar to a man’s."
"The tunic was fastened round the waist with a girdle or belt. This was a piece of cloth, folded into a long strip to make a kind of pocket to hold coins and other belongings.
"When a man needed to be able to move more freely, to work, he would tuck his tunic into his belt to make it much shorter. This was called ‘girding up the loins’. It meant getting ready for action. A woman could lift up the hem of her long dress and use it as a large bag, even for carrying things like corn."
"Out of doors, a rich man would wear a light coat over his tunic. This came down to his knees and was often gaily striped or woven in check patterns."
"There was also a thick woollen coat or cloak to keep out the cold, called a himation in New Testament times. This was made from two pieces of material, often in stripes of light and dark brown, stitched together. The joined material was wrapped around the body, sewn at the shoulders, and slits were then made in the side for the arms to go through."
"The shepherd lived in his. It was his blanket when he slept in the open at night. It was also thick enough to make a comfortable seat. A poor man’s cloak was so important to him that if it were handed over to guarantee repayment of a debt, it had to be returned to him at sunset."
From Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, by J. I. Packer, M. C. Tenney, editors,
Page 480 -- "The Israelite man’s ‘inner garment’ resembled a close-fitting shirt. The most common Hebrew word for this garment (kethoneth) is translated variously as coat, robe, tunic, and garment. It was made of wool, linen or cotton. The earliest of these garments were made without sleeves and reached only to the knees. Later, the inner garment extended to the wrists and ankles."
"A man wearing only this inner garment was said to be naked (I Sam 19:24; Isa 20:2-4). The New Testament probably refers to this garment when it says Peter ‘girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked) and did cast himself into the sea’ (John 21:7)."
"The man’s girdle was a belt or band of cloth, cord, or leather 10 cm. or more wide. A fastener attached to the girdle allowed it to be loosened or tightened. The Jews used the girdle in two ways: as a tie around the waist of the inner garment or around the outer garment. When used around the inner garment, it was often called the loincloth or waistcloth. The use of a girdle increased a person’s gracefulness of appearance and prevented the long, flowing robes from interfering with daily work and movements."
"The Hebrew men wore an outer garment consisting of a square or oblong strip of cloth, 2 to 3 m. (80 to 120 in.) wide. This garment (me’yil) was called the coat, robe, or mantle. It was wrapped around the body as a protective covering, with two corners of the material being in front. The outer garment was drawn in close to the body by a girdle."
Page 482 -- "Women wore clothing that was very similar to that of men. However, the law strictly forbade a woman to wear anything that was thought to belong particularly to a man, such as the signet ring and other ornaments. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, women were also forbidden to use the weapons of a man. By the same token, men were forbidden to wear the outer robe of a woman (Deut. 22:5)."
From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1, pp 876-878 --
"Biblical references for clothes are nearly all to the costume of the males, owing doubtless to the fact that the garment ordinarily used indoors were worn alike by men and women.
"The three normal body garments, the ones most mentioned in the Scriptures, are sadhin, a rather long ‘under garment’ provided with sleeves; kethoneth, a long-sleeved tunic worn over the sadhin, likewise a shirt with sleeves; and simlah, the cloak; and the ‘girdle’."
"The ‘loin-cloth’ was always worn next to the skin. Often it was the only ‘under garment,’ as with certain of the prophets (2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4; Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 13:1ff). In later times it was displaced among the Hebrews by the ‘shirt’ or ‘tunic’."
"The ordinary ‘under garment’, later worn by all classes -- certain special occasions and individuals being exceptions -- was the ‘shirt’. The well-known piece of Assyrian sculpture, representing the siege and capture of Lachish by Sennacherib, shows the Jewish captives, male and female, dressed in a moderately tight garment, fitting close to the neck (Job 30:18) and reaching almost to the ankles. Probably that of the peasantry was both looser and shorter."
From Bible Life and Times, by Reader’s Digest, page 78 --
"Men typically wore a loincloth made of linen, wool, or leather that went from the waist to the knees. Over that hung a loose tunic from the neck to the knees or lower."
"Women wore tunics that reached to their ankles. The tunics of the poor were made of coarse wool, but the rich could afford fine imported linen and silk. Both men and women belted or sashed their tunics and wore over them loose, ankle-length robes, which could also serve as blankets on cold nights. When it was warm, little children often wore no clothing."
"The rich wore garments colored with dye made from plants and insects. Women’s clothes were often more colorful than men’s. Robes might also be fringed and embroidered, the hems being especially ornate."
From Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life by Madeleine S. and J. Lane Miller, page 49 - 50 --
"In Israel and most neighboring countries everyday attire seemed to fall into three or four general categories. For laborers working in the hot sun, the basic unit of clothing was a simple loincloth made wool, sackcloth, animal skin. It could either be worn loose, like a skirt, or pulled between the legs and tucked in at the waist. (So far as we know, modern-style underwear was unknown to people of that time.) This loincloth, or waistcloth, was a forerunner of the nearly universal tunic -- worn by both men and women -- a close-fitting, shirtlike article usually made of wool or linen."
"The tunic was held in at the waist by a girdle or belt, usually a folded length of wool cloth. The girdle was where men kept their money and other valuables, and where soldiers carried their swords. As with a loincloth, the bottom of the tunic could also be folded up into the girdle for easier movement."
"Normally, the tunic was covered by a loose-fitting cloak or mantle, draped over one shoulder in the manner of a Roman toga. Most were made of heavy wool and also served as rugs to sit on and as blankets at night. (Ancient Israelites would have been as perplexed by pajamas as by underwear; they slept in the same clothes they wore during the day.)"
In New Testament times, the main item in the wardrobe was called a colobium -- a long, close-fitting tunic with openings for head and arms, woven from top to bottom, often without seams. A cloak was then wrapped over that. As in the Old Testament, the design was the same for both male and female.
Isaiah 47:2 - 3
"Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover your locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, your shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet you as a man."
Does this verse make reference to the dress lengths of women? Or condemn the wearing of shorts because it exposes the nakedness, which Yahweh does not want?
Let’s define it. "Nakedness" is Strongs #6172, ervah, meaning "nudity, literally (especially the pudenda) or figuratively (disgrace, blemish) -- nakedness, shame, uncleanness." That is a little more explicit. "Pudenda" means, according to the dictionary, the external genitals of the female. That’s a lot more than simply seeing a leg or the thigh. It is the exposing of the female for intimate contact. Remember, since they did not have underwear as we do, they were totally exposed merely by the lifting of the skirt.
In fact, "uncover the nakedness" is defined in scripture. It means a lot more than simply viewing something.
Leviticus 20:11, 20, 21
"And the man that lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless."
From The Torah, A Modern Commentary, edited by W. Gunther Plaut, page 885, regarding the phrase "to uncover nakedness" --
"Here, and whenever this expression is applied to a woman, it means to have sexual intercourse with her. But when applied to man, it means to have intercourse with his wife."
From Bible Life and Times, by Reader’s Digest, p 245 --
"In the Old Testament, the term nakedness, often a euphemism for genital organs, is associated with shame. After their disobedience, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and immediately clad themselves in loincloths (Genesis 3:7). When Ham discovered Noah drunken and naked, he failed to cover his father’s body, whereas his brothers respectfully laid a garment upon the old man as they avoided looking at him (Genesis 9:22-23). In the holiness code set out in Leviticus to distinguish the Israelites from other nations, the phrase ‘uncover the nakedness’ usually refers to having sexual intercourse; the code specifies types of sexual relations proscribed by law (Leviticus 18: 6 - 23)."
The idea of dentures and wigs has even been addressed as being simply vanity items. There may not be anything for or against that in the scriptures. Such as the teeth. Suppose a woman were in an auto accident, had her face badly injured and most of her teeth knocked out. Don’t scoff -- I do know a person this happened to. Should she just do without the teeth in order to remain modest? Or get the teeth so that she may continue to nourish her body with food? Or if all the hair is lost? There are diseases that do cause the hair to fall out -- not only chemotherapy. This would have to remain an individual choice. No one can know what they would do until they are in that situation. There are no scriptures that can be quoted saying "Yahweh says" for this.
So where does this leave us? We find no command that make-up shall not be used. And they were receiving the laws after coming out of a land where much of it originated. We find no description of the type dress we must wear. To conform to all of the commands exactly, why not go back to the tunic, loincloth, and cloak? Wouldn’t that be more "righteous" and easier to control?
There has even been a suggestion that a dress code be established for the assemblies. For us to determine how we should all dress, what we would each be "allowed" to wear; how tight or loose a garment could be; how long or short it should be; etc. But who would set up those rules? Each person has, in their own mind, a concept of what modest is and what "right" or "righteous" is. There would be disagreements, and even splits over who would make the decisions and who would have the right to enforce them. Yahweh did not place us in the Body for us to conform to someone else’s ideas or rules. As has been said before, we are not like yellow pencils in a box -- all identical, with no individuality. We don’t need a policeman to set the limits for us and stop us each time we break a man-made rule. Yahweh has called each of us separately and has a different plan for each of us. Everyone has different abilities, understandings and talents. How can we develop our own character, learn to make decisions and do our best to follow Yahweh if someone else is making the choices and decisions for us? The other person cannot get us into Yahweh’s kingdom. We must each do that on our own. It is an individual matter -- between you and your only Savior.
However, we do find some direction in the scriptures.
I Peter 3:1 - 5
"Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of Yahweh of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in Yahweh, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands."
This doesn’t mean that it is wrong to fix the hair, wear gold or even wear clothes. It just should not be the focus of our lives or what we use to determine how righteous we are. Or how unrighteous someone else is. Yahweh can take it all away from us at any given moment. As it says, we need to be centered on growing the inward man, not overly concerned with the physical appearance.
Titus 2: 3 - 5
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of Yahweh be not blasphemed."
If there is a problem with the way the young girls or women in the assembly are dressing or how the young people are behaving, where are the older women.? Looks to me like they have a teaching job to do. Note: the word here is teaching, not attacking or condemning.
I Timothy 2:9 - 10
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works."
We’ve already seen that none of these things is wrong. The problem is when they are used wrongly.
In Ezekiel 16: 9 - 14, Yahweh described how He adorned Jerusalem. "Then I washed you with water; yea, I throughly washed away your blood from you, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with broidered work, and shod you with badgers’ skin, and I girded you about with fine linen, and I covered you with silk. I decked you also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon your hands, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel on your forehead, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus were you decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; you did eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and you were exceeding beautiful, and you did prosper into a kingdom. And your renown went forth among the heathen for your beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon you, says Yahweh Elohim."
Yahweh cleaned her up, used fine fabrics, used gold and silver and jewels. Just because it does not say that He used eye paint on her, does not mean that this can be used as a "proof text" to say that Yahweh condemns make up.
Yahweh created the world. He put man in the garden to dress and keep it. That meant it might need some cleaning from time to time, some tilling, and general maintenance. The same for our yards and gardens today.
Doesn’t the same apply to us? From what I see in Ezekiel 16, I think He would expect us to have the same care for our bodies. We know from Leviticus that He expects cleanness. In Matthew 6:16 - 18, it says, "Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly." So He is reminding them to continue the usual grooming they would do before going out into public, even though they are hungry and "suffering". He doesn’t want it to show..
Also I Corinthians 3: 16 - 17 -- "Know you not that you are the temple of Yahweh, and that the Spirit of Yahweh dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of Yahweh, him shall Yahweh destroy; for the temple of Yahweh is holy, which temple you are." If we have something that precious within our body, it should really be an incentive to take care of it. To keep it and dress it. Our appearance does mean something to Him.
But when He sees us and how we look, He is also looking for the motivation behind it. He checks our attitude. In I Samuel 16:7, it says, "But Yahweh said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for Yahweh sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart."