Here’s an interesting passage from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.
2 Samuel 15:30 — “… and [David’s] head was covered… and all the people with him, [each] man covered his head also….”
This is a passage about David mourning and weeping, of course. But the words in Greek are “ten kephalen epikekalymmenos” (he covered the head) and “epekalypsen aner ten kephalen autou” ([each] man covered the head of him). So that goes along with the previous wording we saw in the Byzantine putting up your hair rite. (Okay, I know that’s not what it was, but that’s how I can remember it.)
Exodus 29:6-7 – “And you shall put the mitre on his head” (epi kephalen) “and put the holy crown on the miter. And you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head” (epi ten kephalen) “and anoint him.”
Another interesting parallel to Paul’s comment about women having authority on their heads. First lets’s run Paul.
1 Cor. 11:10 — “Because of this, the woman ought to have authority on the head, because of the angels.”
“Dia touto, opheilei he gyne exousian echein epi tes kephales, dia tous angelous.”
Matthew 7:29 — “For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their own scribes.”
“Gar en didaskon hos echon exousian, kai ouk hos auton grammateis.”
Usually when Greek says “on the head,” it means “on the head of the person I’m talking about.” So normally you would translate it as “the woman should have authority on her head.”
So… yeah. Unless I’m really, really missing something in the Aramaic or Hebrew, it seems like Christian women should have authority on their own heads. Their own authority, granted by God. Much like Jesus had authority from the Father. It wasn’t saying that He had no power at all, but that it was delegated authority. He was acting as God’s official; and they are officials also.
Daniel 3:3 in the Theodotion LXX actually uses “oi ep’ exousian” as a translation for “the sheriffs” or “the authorities.”
Daniel 4:3 in the LXX uses “he exousia” to translate “dominion” or “His dominion.” And it’s that way in a lot of other verses, too.
Look. If anybody was saying “dominion is on his head,” they’d be sure we were talking about a king or another mighty servant of God. So exousia on a woman’s head is probably the same – a sign of her authority and her right to make decisions. She’s only a subordinate to her husband the way a first officer is subordinate to a captain — ie, she runs things most of the time, and only needs to consult on big stuff. She’s his ‘ezer.
Before the angels, both Christian men and Christian women should remember that they are able to judge in small things, as they will judge angels later. So women should be able to judge what’s appropriate to wear on their own heads, surely? If an individual woman is wearing something inappropriate, that’s her individual ignorance or bad judgment.
So women’s hats and veils, etc. are symbols of office, dignity, and authority. It’s not about shame, or keeping men from being tempted, or anything like that.