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Veils Study - Covering in the Bible
A veil is a covering. Women in the Middle East literally cover their faces with veils, protecting them from the harsh sun, covering their beauty from the gaze of men who aren’t their husbands, and even concealing their identity to an extent. A bride wears a veil concealing her face temporarily, creating anticipation for when that veil is lifted. A veil can create mystery, provide privacy, or simply provide protection.
We can use our veils to cover ourselves when we dance. We can cover a plain garment with a lovely veil. And we can wrap a veil around ourselves, giving us a picture of us being surrounded and protected by God’s love. We can place a veil over the shoulders of another when we pray for them or brush the veil over the congregation when we dance. Sometimes we may cover the altar with a veil or partially cover the cross with a veil.
Today we are going to look at the word cover in scripture. We are going to examine when covering is an act of care, love, and extension of grace. And we will see where to cover something is a sin that can ensnare. All of this, we do, to consider how we can, when dancing with a veil, better tell God’s story, embody His protective love, or dramatically give a picture of the kind of covering that ensnares the soul.
Just after Adam and Eve sin, they grab fig leaves to cover themselves, and they hide (Genesis 3:10). The Lord calls them out of hiding and replaces their self-made coverings with the skin of animals, covering over their nakedness and shame. (Genesis 3:21) If we cover our own sin we deceive ourselves and others. But the Lord covers our sin when we uncover it before Him. The writer of Proverbs writes, “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces it finds mercy.” (Proverbs 17:9) To be uncovered before the Lord is a place of safety, a way of enabling us to receive mercy. And yet, the Lord does not leave us so exposed.
The Psalmist writes, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1) The Hebrew word used here for cover implies engulfing or overwhelming our sin. It is the same word used to describe the waters that engulfed the Egyptians when they followed the Israelites across the Red Sea. They were completely overwhelmed by the waters, swallowed up by them, and ultimately they disappeared beneath them. Similarly, He engulfs and overwhelms our sin, hiding it so that it can no longer be seen. I love these silk veils because of their size and the way they flow. They really can give a visual picture of something being engulfed by mercy, completely covered as waters cover the sea.
Another common use of covering is a literal garment, that protects from the elements. In Exodus, the people of God are instructed not to take the covering of another, even if they owe a debt, because to do so would leave them unprotected from the heat and the cold, without the comfort of a cover in the night (Exodus 22:7). In this case, the covering protects. Similarly, the Lord says that “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4) giving a physical picture of protection, warmth, and shelter. We can surely demonstrate this with veils by simply wearing them as a cloak, wrapping them around our bodies or placing them on the shoulders of another, giving a visual and tactile experience of the Lord’s kindness.
So, to cover something can be positive or negative. It can be an act of deception, our way of convincing ourselves or others that we are something other than we are, or it can be an act of kindness, support, and forgiveness by another. We are not to hide from the Lord or cover anything from Him. He reserves the right to hide our sin. He Himself is the ultimate coverer. He covers us to protect us, to comfort us, show mercy to us, and to keep us close.
Study Suggestions: Read the Hebrew and Greek words below and the scriptures in which those are found. Consider answering one of the following questions/doing one of the following activities:
- Spend time reflecting on the verses. Notice how the same word is used in different contexts. What stands out to you?
- Try simply acting our some of the verses with your veil. What images come to mind or feelings arise?
- Search in a bible concordance or on BibleGateway.com for the word cover or veil. Write down some of the references. How do they add to your understanding?
- Is there anything that is covered in your life that you want to uncover before the Lord?
- Is there an area of your life where you feel exposed and need to experience the Lord’s covering? Acknowledge that to Him, ask Him to cover you, and thank you for His care.
Hebrew words, their meanings, and their occurrences in scripture
Bold words (Hebrew*)
< > pronunciation of the Hebrew word
= short definition from Strong’s concordance
*I have not included the accents from Hebrew.
ya-sek <saw-kak> = overshadow, screened (like a veil)
Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (hedge around, protect)
wa-e-ha-be <khaw-baw> = withdraw or hide
Genesis 3:10 And he said I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself. (concealed, hid)
ke-sut, <kes-ooth> = vindication, covering, garment, clothing
Genesis 20:16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is the cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.
Job 24:7 And have no covering against the cold
Job 26:20 And Abaddon has no covering before him, and destruction has no covering
Ex. 22:27 That cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in?
Kasah <kaw-saw> = closed, conceal, cover, engulf, forgive, hidden, hide, keep, overwhelm, take refuge
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense.
Proverbs 11:13 But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions…
Genesis 9:23 Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked
Psalm 106:11 - The waters covered their enemies (Egyptians)
Psalm 32:1 - Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Ex. 24:15 - When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it.
kalupto <kal-oop-to> = veil, hide, conceal, envelop
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.
Luke 8:16 No one lights a lamp and covers it over with a container
Hebrew words, definitions and references taken from biblehub.com
I encourage you to use biblehub.com. It gives you a word-for-word translation of a verse into Hebrew. You can click on the Hebrew word to find more places in scripture where that same word is used. You can also click on the definition for the word in Strong’s Concordance where you get the bible dictionary definition of the word. This can deepen, clarify, and expand your understanding of the meaning of the word.