The riddle of Deuteronomy 22:5

Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV says, The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth [keli]of a man [geber], neither shall a man [geber] put on a woman’s garment [simlah]: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

We have looked at how a geber-man was a mighty man or man of valor. The first definition given in the concordance of keli pertains to general things, such as utensils and vessels, and not things worn. So we are after the second definition which pertains to things a geber-man would wear:

2 utensil, implement, apparatus:

a. implement of hunting and (especially) war, = weapon Genesis 27:3 (J), 1 Samuel 20:40; 1 Samuel 21:9 (גַּם חַרְבִּי וְגַם כֵּלַי), 1 Kings 11:8 2 Chronicles 23:7; 1 Kings 11:11; Isaiah 54:16,17; Jeremiah 22:7; probably also Numbers 35:32, כְּלִי בַּרְזֶל Numbers 35:16, כְּלִי עֵץיָֿד Numbers 35:18 (all P); כְּלֵיחָמָם Genesis 49:5 (poem); כְּלִי מַשְׁחֵתוֺ Ezekiel 9:1, מַמָּצוֺ׳כ Ezekiel 9:2; figurative of God’s weapons כְּלֵימָֿוֶת Psalm 7:14 (“” חִצָּיו); זַעְמוֺ׳כ Isaiah 13:5; Jeremiah 50:25; of entire equipment of warrior, armour or armament offensive and defensive 1 Samuel 17:54 (compare 1 Samuel 17:5 ff.), 1 Samuel 21:6 (twice in verse) (see Dr Sm 139. 293), 1 Samuel 31:9,10 = 1 Chronicles 10:9,10; hence נשֵֹׁא כֵלִים (כֵּלָיוׅ armour#NAME? weapon-bearer Judges 9:54; 1 Samuel 14:1,6,7,12 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 14:13 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 14:14,17; 1 Samuel 16:21; 1 Samuel 31:4 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 31:5,6 = 1 Chronicles 10:4 (twice in verse); 1 Chronicles 10:5,2Samuel 18:15; 2 Samuel 23:37 = 1 Chronicles 11:39; figurative וְכֵלַי כֵּלָיו רָעִים Isaiah 32:7 and a knave, his weapons (i.e. devices, Che ‘machinations’) are evil; more precisely כְּלֵי מִלְחָמָה Judges 18:11,16,17; 1 Samuel 8:12; 2 Samuel 1:27; Deuteronomy 1:41; Jeremiah 21:4; Jeremiah 50:20 (figurative), Ezekiel 32:27; 1 Chronicles 12:34 (van d. H v. 1 Chronicles 12:33); כְּלֵי צְבָא מִלְחָמָה 1 Chronicles 12:38 (van d. H v. 1 Chronicles 12:37); כְּלֵי קְרָב Ecclesiastes 9:18; בֵּית כֵּלָיו 2 Kings 20:13 = Isaiah 39:2 is perhaps armoury; ׳כ Ezekiel 40:42 is sacrificial knife.

Source: Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew #3627

The word “wear” is not actually found in the first part of the verse. The Young’s Literal Translation renders it thus:

The habiliments of a man are not on a woman, nor doth a man put on the garment of a woman, for the abomination of Jehovah thy God is any one doing these.

But there is more here to uncover. The most literal translation would be this:

And HE IS NOT an apparatus of a valiant-man on a woman, and a valiant-man is not wearing a garment of a woman, for an abomination of Yahweh thy God is the whole making these ones.

The last word “these” is a plural pronoun (#428). These are prophetic revelations and not rules. The real wording here begs the reader to be quiet, and listen. Wearing weapons is not a “good” thing because war is not a good thing. If this was a rule, it would mean that wearing weapons and armor was a good thing. To a valiant man, weapons and armor are a very undesirable necessity. No true valiant man seeks his own valor.

The NASB translates this word keli as “armor” 24 times and “weapons” 22 times. That is significant. The only meaning that gets rendered more, is “utensils” or “vessels” which are not things worn. But because “wear” is not a part of the first clause, one could ponder what a “utensil” or “vessel” of a valiant-man might be.

So what does it mean?

What comes to mind is the prophetic relevance to the Woman, the Church. The Church in any of her warring is out of line. She is taking matters into her own hands rather than trusting God’s promises. The extent to which the Church has battled politically should be unnerving at the least when one considers this. To the debate over pacifism or “fighting to do the right thing” this verse is saying, Christ and his Heaven will indeed fight, the battle is his, the vengeance is his, he will show himself valiant, but he is not with that Woman taking it into her own hands, nor is he under the covering of that Woman. To be sure, any man who subjects himself to the Covering/Garment of the Bride of Christ, our Mother, Heavenly Jerusalem, is effectively breaking the rule, if this were such a rule.

There are also two women spoken of here, hence the plural pronoun these ones. Those making these two women are detestable to Yahweh. For more about the three women of Christ read here.