|Jews wearing turbans in Jerusalem 1895|
"Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred emblem to the turban." (Ex. 29:6)
"He also placed the turban on his head, and on the turban, at its front, he placed the golden plate, the holy crown, just as YHVH had commanded Moses." (Lev 8:9)
On his head the High Priest wore a turban of fine linen which was bound around the head in coils. On the front of the turban on Aaron's forehead, attached by a blue lace ribbon, there was the golden plate engraved HOLINESS TO YHVH. This was a constant reminder of holiness to the covenant people in Israel and to the High Priest in his calling , for God said to Moses:
"Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them, "Be holy because I, YHVH your God, am holy' (Lev. 19:2).
The High Priest was marked with an identifying symbol of his consecration to the Creator. The entire nation of the Children of Israel were a holy nation and were called a collective priesthood thus Jews to this day wear a head covering to emulate their distinctiveness as a priesthood to the world and their consecration of holiness. Holiness coming from the Hebrew word kedusha, meaning set-apart. As mentioned earlier, the modern kippah/yarmulke is a distinguishing identifier which separated Jews from other nations.
The emulation between the collective priesthood of Israel to her High Priest is not a modern innovation but a historic reality. The custom of ancient Jews wearing a turban, like unto the High Priest as a daily practice of the commoner, is also established in the Scriptural narrative.
· "Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners." (Ez. 24:17)
In ancient times the removal of one's turban signified mourning and shame (Isaiah 3:18-23; Ezekiel 24:17 ,Ezekiel 24:17,24:23 ).
· "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban." (Job 29:14)
· "She will put a crown of grace on your head, giving you a turban of glory." (Prov 12:9)
· "To give them a beautiful turban in place of dust, the oil of joy in place of the clothing of grief, praise in place of sorrow; so that they may be named trees of righteousness, the planting of YHVH, and so that he may have glory." (Isa 61:3)
· "I will be full of joy in YHVH, my soul will be glad in my God; for he has put on me the clothing of salvation, covering me with the robe of righteousness, as the husband puts on a beautiful turban, and the bride makes herself beautiful with jewels." (Isa 61:10)
In modern times a beanie (kippah/yarmulke) has replaced the ancient custom of the turban. However, the turban was worn by many Jews up until the 20th century. Now hardly any Jews continue the custom of wearing the turban opting for the practicality of the beanie as it is less conspicuous in Western society.
|Ben Ish Hai (1834-1909)|
So what happened to the turban in Jewish tradition? According to N. Stillman in the historical book entitled, "Jews in Arab Lands" he asserts the with the rise of Islam, the turban came to be considered the "crown of the Arabs" and the "badge of Islam." The honorable status that attached to the wearing of a turban created problems for the Jews of Muslim lands.
Officially, Jews were considered a tolerated minority (dhimmis) whose social inferiority was to be enforced by law. In the 7th Century "Pact of Omar," which defined the status of non-Muslims in the Islamic empire, the Jews and Christians agreed "not to attempt to resemble the Muslims in any way with regard to their dress, as for example with the...turban..."
As with similar dress restrictions that were often imposed upon their brethren in Christian Europe, this kind of law would often prove difficult to enforce, since Jews frequently developed amicable personal relationships with individual Muslims. The official authorities often responded to such social mingling by insisting that the Jews don identifiable apparel that would visibly indicate their inferior social position.