Deuteronomy 22:5
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
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(5) The woman shall not wear . . .—One of the things of which we may well say with St. Paul, “Doth not nature itself teach you?”

Deuteronomy 22:5. Shall not wear — That is, ordinarily or unnecessarily, for in some cases this may be lawful, as to make an escape for one’s life. Now this is forbidden for decency’s sake, that men might not confound those sexes which God hath distinguished; that all appearance of evil might be avoided, such change of garments carrying a manifest sign of effeminacy in the man, of arrogance in the woman, of lightness and petulancy in both; and also to cut off all suspicions and occasions of evil, for which this practice would open a wide door.

22:5-12 God's providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care. Yet the tendency of these laws, which seem little, is such, that being found among the things of God's law, they are to be accounted great things. If we would prove ourselves to be God's people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with a serious regard to preserve our own and others' purity in heart and actions. Our eye should be single, our heart simple, and our behaviour all of a piece.That which pertaineth unto a man - i. e. not only his dress but all that especially pertains distinctively to his sex; arms, domestic and other utensils, etc.

The distinction between the sexes is natural and divinely established, and cannot be neglected without indecorum and consequent danger to purity (compare 1 Corinthians 11:3-15).

De 22:5-12. The Sex to Be Distinguished by Apparel.

5. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment—Though disguises were assumed at certain times in heathen temples, it is probable that a reference was made to unbecoming levities practised in common life. They were properly forbidden; for the adoption of the habiliments of the one sex by the other is an outrage on decency, obliterates the distinctions of nature by fostering softness and effeminacy in the man, impudence and boldness in the woman as well as levity and hypocrisy in both; and, in short, it opens the door to an influx of so many evils that all who wear the dress of another sex are pronounced "an abomination unto the Lord."

This shall not be done ordinarily or unnecessarily, for in some cases it may be lawful, as to make an escape for one’s life. Now this is forbidden, partly for decency sake, that men might not confound, nor seem to confound, those sexes which God hath distinguished, that all appearance of evil might be avoided, such change of garments carrying a manifest umbrage or sign of softness and effeminacy in the man, of arrogance and impudency in the woman, of lightness and petulancy in both; and partly to cut off all suspicions and occasions of evil, which this practice opens a wide door unto.

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" (f), 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 (g) relates, used to trade and merchandise abroad, while the men kept at home; and the word also signifies armour (h), 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 (i) 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 (k) 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 (m), 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 (n); 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 (o) 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 (p), and Servius (q) 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 (r), and in the feasts of Bacchus men disguised themselves like women (s).

(f) "instrumentum virile", Pagninus, Junius et Tremellius; "instrumentum viri", Vatablus. (g) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 35. (h) "Arma viri", Munster. (i) Hilchot Obede Cochabim, c. 12. sect. 10. (k) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 43. (l) Cunaeus de Repub. Heb. l. 2. c. 22. (m) Laert. Vit. Platonis, l. 3. p. 238. (n) Cunaeus ut supra. (l)) (o) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 37. (p) Saturnal. l. 3. c. 8. (q) In Virgil. Aeneid. l. 2.((r) Jul. Firmic. de Relig. Prophan. p. 6. (s) Lucian.

The {d} woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

(d) For that alters the order of nature, and shows that you despise God.

5. Against Wearing the Clothes, etc., of the Other Sex. Peculiar to D. As what is forbidden is styled an abomination to Jehovah, the law probably refers to heathen rites, for the practice of which, including the interchange by the sexes of their clothes, weapons, etc., leading to gross impurities, there is much evidence in records of the Syrian and other ancient religions. Calvin quotes Juvenal Sat., vi. 252.

Quem praestare potest mulier galeata pudorem,

Quae fugit a sexu?

Lucian, Dea Syr. 15, 26, 51, Apul. Metamorph. viii. 24 ff., Pausanias iii. 197, Macrobius Sat. iii. 8, Eusebius Vit. Const. iii. 55, Jerome on Hosea 4:14, Augustine Civ. Dei, vii. 26. Cp. Movers, Phönizier, i. 678 ff., Stark, Gaza, etc. 306, W.R. Smith, OTJC2, 365.

that which pertaineth] Heb. kelî, covering weapons (Deuteronomy 1:41), utensils (Deuteronomy 23:24 [25]) and ornaments, as well as garments or ‘things’ as we call them (Leviticus 13:49, etc.).

abomination] See Deuteronomy 7:25; cp. Deuteronomy 18:12, Deuteronomy 25:16.

Verse 5. - The divinely instituted distinction between the sexes was to be sacredly observed, and, in order to this, the dress and ether things appropriate to the one were not to be used by the other. That which pertaineth unto a man; literally, the apparatus (כְּלִי) of a man, including, not dress merely, but implements, tools, weapons, and utensils. This is an ethical regulation in the interests of morality. There is no reference, as some have supposed, to the wearing of masks for the purpose of disguise, or to the practice of the priests at heathen festivals of wearing masks of their gods. Whatever tends to obliterate the distinction between the sexes tends to licentiousness; and that the one sex should assume the dress of the other has always been regarded as unnatural and indecent (comp. Seneca, 'Epist.,' 122, "Nonne videntur contra naturam vivere qui commutant cum feminis vestem;" and Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 6:252 -

"Quem praestare potest muller galeata pudorem
Quae fugit a sexu?"
) Such a change of vesture is here declared to be an abomination to the Lord, because of its tendency to immorality. Deuteronomy 22:5As the property of a neighbour was to be sacred in the estimation of an Israelite, so also the divine distinction of the sexes, which was kept sacred in civil life by the clothing peculiar to each sex, was to be not less but even more sacredly observed. "There shall not be man's things upon a woman, and a man shall not put on a woman's clothes." כּלי does not signify clothing merely, nor arms only, but includes every kind of domestic and other utensils (as in Exodus 22:6; Leviticus 11:32; Leviticus 13:49). The immediate design of this prohibition was not to prevent licentiousness, or to oppose idolatrous practices (the proofs which Spencer has adduced of the existence of such usages among heathen nations are very far-fetched); but to maintain the sanctity of that distinction of the sexes which was established by the creation of man and woman, and in relation to which Israel was not to sin. Every violation or wiping out of this distinction - such even, for example, as the emancipation of a woman - was unnatural, and therefore an abomination in the sight of God.
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