Note: This is just a historical point, it isn't judging anyone, just trying to understand things in their historical context.

In a lecture I heard that in 1st century Palestine:

1. All women used to cover their hair except for Gentile women and Prostitutes
2. All men had beards except for gentile men and gays.

Where could I verify this?

I know Paul has a strong statement regarding women not covering their hair in church:

For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.


  • 2
    Is this a Christianity question? There could be a Christian angle to it, but the question as written doesn't mention Christianity explicitly.
    – James T
    Apr 10, 2014 at 23:01
  • Agreed with JamesT, I think this is more of a history question. Apr 11, 2014 at 14:54
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about history. History.SE would probably be a better place.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 18, 2014 at 18:26
  • This is, unfortunately, now too old to migrate. Of course I discovered that after I edited it to be suitable for migration there. I would suggest the OP ask it over there using revision 3 (copy-paste from the source is fine) over on History. In the mean time I'll revert this one to the version more suitable for here, but I suspect it will get closed as this is not really the best place for it.
    – Caleb
    Jun 19, 2014 at 6:45
  • More general question on the history site: history.stackexchange.com/questions/21489/…
    – Bit Chaser
    Aug 31, 2019 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


It might be clearer to ask about Jewish versus other men and women. My impression is that most women wore head coverings at that time, and most men wore beards, but customs varied greatly among non-Jewish people. Prostitutes likely would not wear head coverings. I don't see homosexuals as a group that would be likely to have a common practice about beards, though doubtless some shaved to be more feminine.

Michael Marlowe discusses head coverings and other clothing issues at http://www.bible-researcher.com/headcoverings3.html . The Bible makes clear that the Jews are to remain a distinct people, and should not adopt many of the customs of the people around them (gentiles).

After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. (Leviticus 18:3. cf. also Deuteronomy 12:29-32 and 2 Kings 17:13-15.)

The LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests ... and on the day of the LORD's sacrifice, I will punish ... all who array themselves in foreign attire. (Zephaniah 1:8)

Marlowe suggests that Jewish men of the first century did not cover their heads when they prayed. They likely covered or uncovered their heads for practical reasons only. Women normally kept their heads covered any time they were outside of their home.

Philo of Alexandria refers to a woman's head covering as a "symbol of modesty", suggesting that an innocent woman would be uncomfortable in its absense.

  • There is also Pual's statement of a women who is in church with her hair uncovered should shave her heard: biblehub.com/1_corinthians/11-6.htm Apr 11, 2014 at 13:59
  • @user1361315, Are you serious with that? Wouldn't it be more likely he's referring to shaving her head? "If she won't cover her head, why not go ahead and just shave it!" (I read your "heard" as "beard" but maybe you meant "hair".) Apr 17, 2014 at 4:53

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