Deuteronomy 22:5

Deuteronomy 22:5

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man
It being very unseemly and impudent, and contrary to the modesty of her sex; or there shall not be upon her any "instrument of a man" F6, any utensil of his which he makes use of in his trade and business; as if she was employed in it, when her business was not to do the work of men, but to take care of her house and family; and so this law may be opposed to the customs of the Egyptians, as is thought, from whom the Israelites were lately come; whose women, as Herodotus F7 relates, used to trade and merchandise abroad, while the men kept at home; and the word also signifies armour F8, as Onkelos renders it; and so here forbids women putting on a military habit and going with men to war, as was usual with the eastern women; and so Maimonides F9 illustrates it, by putting a mitre or an helmet on her head, and clothing herself with a coat of mail; and in like manner Josephus F11 explains it,

``take heed, especially in war, that a woman do not make use of the habit of a man, or a man that of a woman;''

nor is he to be found fault with so much as he is by a learned writer {l}, since he does not restrain it wholly to war, though he thinks it may have a special regard to that; for no doubt the law respects the times of peace as well as war, in neither of which such a practice should obtain: but the Targum of Jonathan very wrongly limits it to the wearing fringed garments, and to phylacteries, which belonged to men:

neither shall a man put on a woman's garment;
which would betray effeminacy and softness unbecoming men, and would lead the way to many impurities, by giving an opportunity of mixing with women, and so to commit fornication and adultery with them; to prevent which and to preserve chastity this law seems to be made; and since in nature a difference of sexes is made, it is proper and necessary that this should be known by difference of dress, or otherwise many evils might follow; and this precept is agreeably to the law and light of nature: it is observed by an Heathen writer F13, that there is a twofold distribution of the law, the one written, the other not written; what we use in civil things is written, what is from nature and use is unwritten, as to walk naked in the market, or to put on a woman's garment: and change of the clothes of sexes was used among the Heathens by way of punishment, as of the soldiers that deserted, and of adulteresses F14; so abominable was it accounted: indeed it may be lawful in some cases, where life is in danger, to escape that, and provided chastity is preserved:

for all that do so are an abomination to the Lord thy God;
which is a reason sufficient why such a practice should not be used. Some from this clause have been led to conclude, that respect is had to some customs of this kind used in idolatrous worship, which are always abominable to the Lord. So Maimonides F15 observes, that in a book of the Zabians, called "Tomtom", it is commanded, that a man should wear a woman's garment coloured when he stood before the star of Venus, and likewise that a woman should put on a coat of mail and warlike armour when she stood before the star of Mars; which he takes to be one reason of this law, though besides that he gives another, because hereby concupiscence would be excited, and an occasion for whoredom given: that there was some such customs among the Heathens may be confirmed from Macrobius F16, and Servius F17 as has been observed by Grotius; the former of which relates, that Philochorus affirmed that Venus is the moon, and that men sacrificed to her in women's garments, and women in men's; and for this reason, because she was thought to be both male and female; and the latter says, there was an image of Venus in Cyprus with a woman's body and garment, and with the sceptre and distinction of a man, to whom the men sacrificed in women's garments, and women in men's garments; and, as the above learned commentator observes, there were many colonies of the Phoenicians in Cyprus, from whom this custom might come; and to prevent it obtaining among the Israelites in any degree, who were now coming into their country, it is thought this law was made; for the priests of the Assyrian Venus made use of women's apparel F18, and in the feasts of Bacchus men disguised themselves like women F19.


FOOTNOTES:

F6 (rbg ylk) "instrumentum virile", Pagninus, Junius et Tremellius; "instrumentum viri", Vatablus.
F7 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 35.
F8 "Arma viri", Munster.
F9 Hilchot Obede Cochabim, c. 12. sect. 10.
F11 Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 43.
F12 Cunaeus de Repub. Heb. l. 2. c. 22.
F13 Laert. Vit. Platonis, l. 3. p. 238.
F14 Cunaeus ut supra. (F12)
F15 Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 37.
F16 Saturnal. l. 3. c. 8.
F17 In Virgil. Aeneid. l. 2.
F18 Jul. Firmic. de Relig. Prophan. p. 6.
F19 Lucian.
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