An indispensable part of the outdoor dress of Eastern Ladies, who live secluded from the sight of all men except their own husbands and their nearest relatives. If an Egyptian lady is surprised uncovered, she quickly draws her veil over her face, with some exclamation like, "O my misfortune." To lift or remove one’s veil was to insult and degrade her, Genesis 24:65 Song of Solomon 5:7 1 Corinthians 11:5,10. The custom of wearing veils, however, has not been prevalent at all times. Sarah the wife of Abraham, and Rebekah and her companions at the well do not appear to have worn them, Genesis 12:14,15 24:16. Compare also Genesis 38:14,15 Proverbs 7:13. See ABIMELECH.
Veil were of different kinds. Those now worn in Syria and Egypt may be divided into two classes, the one large and sometimes thick, the other small and of lighter materials. The usual indoor veil is of thin muslin, attached to the headdress, and falling over the back, sometimes to the feet. A similar veil is added to the front of the headdress on going abroad, partially covering the face and hanging low. The other veil, to be worn in the street, is a large mantle or sheet, of black silk, linen, or some coarse material, so ample as to envelope the whole person and dress, leaving but one of the eyes exposed, Song of Solomon 4:9. Such was the veil worn by Ruth 3:15, translated "mantle" in Isaiah 3:22. Many women wear no other veil than this. The Greek word translated "power" in 1 Corinthians 11:10, probably means a veil, as a token of her husband’s rightful authority and her own subordination. This was to be worn in their Christian assemblies "because of the angels;" that is, because of the presence either of true angels, or of the officers of the church, who being unaccustomed to see the unveiled faces of women, might be distracted by them in the discharge of their public duties.
For the "veil of the temple," see TABERNACLE and TEMPLE.