Where in the Tanakh is the subject of head-covering or hair-covering for females taught or hinted?

(I have researched MiYodeya and the similar questions or answers are based on non-Tanakh passages. I am specifically asking about an answer based either explicitly or implicitly or an extrapolation from a Tanakh passage.)

This is a two-part question, put simply:

  1. Where in the Tanakh is there support for females (no matter how old) ever having their hair or head uncovered? For what purpose?

This question is from my reading or commenting on: Why do men or boys have to cover their hair, but not unmarried women?

  1. Where in the Tanakh is it extrapolated that females are to cover their heads or hair when praying or reciting the name of HaShem?

I form this question upon reading the following: Women and girls covering their heads when lighting candles

  • "I have researched MiYodeya and the similar questions or answers are based on non-Tanakh passages. I am specifically asking about an answer based either explicitly or implicitly or an extrapolation from a Tanakh passage." aren't the non-tanakh passages you found coming from tanakh passages?
    – robev
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 20:06
  • Gen 24:65 and 38:19
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 20:08
  • Numbers 5:18 is one
    – rosends
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 20:19
  • @robev possibly for question 1 but not for question 2.
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 4:29
  • @DoubleAA your quoted passages possibly answers question 1 but not question 2, unless you can quote an authority who says otherwise.
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


The Talmud in Ketubot 72a cites Numbers 5:18 as a Scriptural source/derivation:

ראשה פרוע דאורייתא היא דכתיב ופרע את ראש האשה ותנא דבי רבי ישמעאל אזהרה לבנות ישראל שלא יצאו בפרוע ראש

[Is not the prohibition against going out with] an uncovered head Pentateuchal; for it is written, And he shall uncover the woman's head, and this, it was taught at the school of R. Ishmael, was a warning to the daughters of Israel that they should not go out with uncovered head?

(Soncino translation)

  • 1
    That is a good answer to question 1, but not to question 2.
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 6:34
  • I am not aware of unmarried women who are particular to cover their hair when praying. It is hard to find a source for a non-existent practice. While many otherwise fully observant married women do not cover their hair, and may do so in honor of visiting the synagouge or lighting candles, this is merely something that in actuality is required for all married women according to the gemara mentioned in the answer. Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 14:56
  • @Joseph You are not but I am aware of unmarried women who are careful to cover their hair when praying.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 1:08

It's an interesting question and as you suggest in your title and first sentence, the subject is only hinted at.

The first part of your question is, "Where in the Tanakh is there support for females (no matter how old) ever having their hair or head uncovered?"

This is actually hinted at in two places but requires a small introductory explanation.

Within the allegories used in the Torah, the Female is compared to the Earth (as in soil, like the expression Earth-Mother) like is explained in Sefer Me'orot Natan, Letter Aleph, Chapter 126, ארץ. This relates to earth/soil being the material source of the power of endless fructification. That the Feminine is in character, Fructuous, full of and producing fruit, so to speak.

In parshat Bereshit, there are paradigms of Creation established which repeat like fractals across the six days of Creation and throughout the entire universe even to the present. So the first paradigm introducing the distinction between Masculine and Feminine is the appearance of the dry land from the waters in Bereshit 1:9.

The waters are initially one and then are separated into two by the Rakia. And then from the Lower Waters comes forth the dry land (יבשה) which will be called Earth. And the Waters will be called Seas.

The Earth corresponds with the Feminine aspect and the Seas correspond with the Masculine. In this case, the Seas are an allegory to the Semen which flows ultimately to water the Garden which is comprised of the dry land.

And this same paradigm repeats within Creation in Bereshit 1:27, 2:7-15 and 2:21-24. This process of repeating is called Seder Hishtalshelut (סדר השתלשלות) in Kabbalistic literature.

With that introduction, it is now possible to point to the hint of uncovered hair with females. That growing and showing of their hair is equated with the appearance of the Desheh, (the concept of Malchut like is discussed in Sefer Kehillat Yaacov, Erech דשא) over the Earth in Bereshit 1:11-12. That this is their covering and beauty and an outward sign of their being matured, prepared and ready for a mate and reproduction.

And this same language pertaining to the Desheh is found in Tehillim 23:2. This is the same chapter of Tehillim that many say at each of the three meals of Shabbat in hinting to the elements which make-up a Jewish marriage. That there are three partners in a Jewish marriage.

The first 45 words of the chapter, lines 1 through 5, hint to Adam (אדם) which is gematria 45. The next 3 words in posuk 6 (אך טוב וחסד) have the ending letters כב״ד, (which also refers to the liver כבד, the organ that causes the blood to thicken and become more material similar to the womb) which is the gematria of G-d's name (יהוה). This refers to the middle partner, G-d, in a marriage like is referenced in the Talmud. And the final 9 words allude to the Feminine, the wife, who corresponds with the letter Tet (ט) whose form is compared to an empty vessel prepared to receive, like is stated in Sefer HaBahir, chapter 124.

This chapter of Tehillim is also recounting the episode from Bereshit when Chava, Adam's mate was walking in the Garden just prior to her encounter with the Nachash in Bereshit 3:1-6. And at that time, she was rejoicing in the beauty of her hair (בנאות דשא ירביצני) and contemplating her future Motherhood with her betrothed mate.

This seems to be implied from the understanding brought in connection with Ketubot 72a which connects the mitzvah of the suspected Adulteress and the ritual involving uncovering her hair to actually untying her braids like is brought by Rashi on BeMidbar 5:18. Braided hair is a minhag of modesty for unmarried Jewish women like is discussed in Magen Avraham 75:3, Mishnah Berurah 75:12, 303:82 and at length in Sefer Oz v'Hadar Levushah (Modesty: An Adornment for Life by Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk, A"H) Sec. 5H, pp. 262-265. And so this detail of the chapter in Tehillim would actually be indicating that Chava was betrothed to be married but had not yet had relations, conceived and had children. And this also follows the explanation of Chacham Yosef Chaim, the Ben Ish Chai in his commentary to Shas, Ben Yehoyada to Yoma 47a:4 who stays:

ובזה מובן הטעם מה שברא הקב"ה את חוה בקליעת שער ולא בראה שערה סתור

The second part of your question is more difficult. You asked, "Where in the Tanakh is it extrapolated that females are to cover their heads or hair when praying or reciting the name of HaShem?"

This is derived from Bemidbar 5:11-31 discussing the subject of the Suspected Adulteress. In BeMidbar 5:18 it emphasizes that the hair of the wife suspected of adultery will be uncovered as part of the ritual to be performed.

What is emphasized here is that the normal state of being for a married Jewish woman is for her hair to be covered at all times. And when her hair is uncovered, she is considered to be naked. But prior to a wife having her first physical relations with her husband, merely having her hair in braids is sufficient like was the case with Chava, Adam's wife.

And it is in the general context that any Jewish individual, meaning male or female, is forbidden to utter Holy words while naked, that the prohibition would be learned out for females too. And this prohibition is learned from Devarim 23:15 which states:

כִּי֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ מִתְהַלֵּ֣ךְ ׀ בְּקֶ֣רֶב מַחֲנֶ֗ךָ לְהַצִּֽילְךָ֙ וְלָתֵ֤ת אֹיְבֶ֙יךָ֙ לְפָנֶ֔יךָ וְהָיָ֥ה מַחֲנֶ֖יךָ קָד֑וֹשׁ וְלֹֽא־יִרְאֶ֤ה בְךָ֙ עֶרְוַ֣ת דָּבָ֔ר וְשָׁ֖ב מֵאַחֲרֶֽיךָ׃

That we are prohibited from having any kind of nakedness found in regard to us when G-d's presence is revealed in our domain and proximity.

  • as requested by someone, I re-posted my second question as a separate question and I invite you to re-post your answer, which one comment already saying, they disagree with your answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/117192/…
    – ninamag
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 20:28
  • @ninamag You asked a good question. Don't let someone tell you less. The answer I provided answers your question directly and exactly as you had it posted. It isn't my opinion, meaning innovation. That's why I provided extensive sourcing for you to look at yourself. Concerning the individual who has commented on your other question that he disagrees with my answer here, he's entitled to disagree. But if he calls, for example, the OU question line, he will get the same sources that I point to. How do I know? I did it as follow-up. My interest is in sharing Torah. I hope you enjoyed the answer. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 21:35
  • 1
    @ninamag And just to emphasize, you asked specifically for sources from Tanach that indicate the two ideas. There is only one answer that provides that here. May you be written and sealed for a good and sweet year both materially and spiritually. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 21:38
  • 1
    I appreciate your answer. I had +1 it, and would that you also post it at the new separate question.
    – ninamag
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 3:19
  • in my reposting of question #2, somebody gave an answer that appears to complement your answer. Would appreciate if you also put your answer there.
    – ninamag
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 11:20

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