A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.
Verse 11 is about not mixing fabrics in one’s clothing (which seems a bit common sense to me), verse 9 is about not sowing different kinds of seed in the same field (which also seems pretty common sense), and verse 10 is about not plowing with different kinds of animals in the same yoke (again with the common sense). In point of fact, most of the verses in this section (vv 1-12) seem to be about common sense and common decency (verses 1-4 are all about helping your neighbor’s animals if you see them in trouble).
Verse 5; this morning’s verse feels, to me, like the pivot from decency to sense.
Prior to this morning’s verse (vv 1-4), Moses was speaking on helping your neighbor’s animals out of a fix. See an animal in trouble? Help it out of that trouble. Know who the animal belongs to? Take it home. Those verses are all about being decent and a good member of society.
After this morning’s verse (vv 6-11) are pretty common sense stuff. Not mixing fabrics is a fantastic idea in the age preceding dry cleaning. Not mixing crops in a field simplifies harvest and avoids cross-pollination (to an extent).
But this men and women not wearing each others clothes seems different to me. It seems common sense (my wife’s clothes would not fit me and mine are WAY TOO BIG on her) and like being a good neighbor (when women’s clothes often involved a veil and therefore hid most everything but the eyes, things could get confusing). But this bothered me. It is not that I disagree with the prohibition — men wearing women’s clothing is often hideous and women wearing men’s clothing is sometimes comical — but that it feels like I am missing something. I mean, it could be as simple as “Be a good neighbor and do not wear your spouse’s clothes around or your neighbor will be confused.” And that would be fair enough. But I dug a bit more.
The words used for wear and clothes are different from man to woman and the words for man and woman are not the ones I remember running across in Genesis. A quick look tells me that woman is the same word, but man is not. The word used for man in Deuteronomy 22 carries connotations of strength and battle prowess according to the concordance. Likewise, the clothes described are more like equipment for men and something like a mantle for the women.
There seems to be a connotation that the sexes are not to switch roles. A man is not to put on the mantle of a woman and a woman is not supposed to put on the equipment of a man. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but that is what I see when I look at those prohibitions.
Father, thank You that Your Law makes sense.