39. The Veil

 •  1 min. read  •  grade level: 10
1. The custom of veiling the face of women, now so common in the East, was not general in the days of the patriarchs, nor for a long time after. The women usually appeared in public with faces exposed. Much of the modern Oriental scrupulousness on this subject is due to Mohammedan influence, the Koran forbidding women to appear unveiled except in the presence only of their nearest relatives. No representations of veils are found on either the Assyrian or the Egyptian monuments; yet the Egyptians, as well as the Hebrews, did use the veil on special occasions. Wilkinson says, that the ancient Egyptian veil was not so thick as the boorko of modern Egypt; but was thin enough to be seen through, like that of the Wahabees. The veiling of the bride before coming into the presence of the bridegroom is a very ancient custom, indicating modesty, and subjection to the husband.
It is claimed by some, however, that the tsaiph—both here and in Genesis 38:1414And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. (Genesis 38:14), rendered “veil”—was not properly a veil, but rather a large wrapper which was worn out of doors; a light summer dress, of handsome appearance and of ample dimensions, so that it might be thrown over the head at pleasure. Thus, when she saw Isaac, Rebekah slipped the upper part of her loose flowing robe over her head, thereby concealing her face from her expectant lover.