But if a woman have long hair - The Author of their being has given a larger proportion of hair to the head of women than to that of men; and to them it is an especial ornament, and may in various cases serve as a veil.
It is a certain fact that a man's long hair renders him contemptible, and a woman's long hair renders her more amiable. Nature and the apostle speak the same language; we may account for it as we please.
It is a glory unto her - It is an ornament, and adorning. The same instinctive promptings of nature which make it proper for a man to wear short hair, make it proper that the woman should suffer hers to grow long.
For a covering - Margin, “veil.” It is given to her as a sort of natural veil, and to indicate the propriety of her wearing a veil. It answered the purposes of a veil when it was allowed to grow long, and to spread over the shoulders and ever parts of the face, before the arts of dress were invented or needed. There may also be an allusion here to the fact that the hair of women naturally grows longer than that of men. See Rosenmuller. The value which eastern females put on their long hair may be learned from the fact that when Ptolemy Euergetes, king of Egypt, was about to march against Seleucus Callinicus, his queen Berenice vowed, as the most precious sacrifice which she could make, to cut off and consecrate her hair if he returned in safety. “The eastern ladies,” says Harmer, “are remarkable for the length and the great number of the tresses of their hair. The men there, on the contrary, wear very little hair on their heads.” Lady M. W. Montague thus speaks concerning the hair of the women:” Their hair hangs at full length behind, divided into tresses, braided with pearl or riband, which is always in great quantity. I never saw in my life so many fine heads of hair. In one lady‘s I have counted one hundred and ten of these tresses, all natural; but it must be owned that every kind of beauty is more common here than with us.” The men there, on the contrary, shave all the hair off their heads, excepting one lock; and those that wear hair are thought effeminate. Both these particulars are mentioned by Chardin, who says they are agreeable to the custom of the East: “the men are shaved; the women nourish their hair with great fondness, which they lengthen, by tresses and tufts of silk, down to the heels. The young men who wear their hair in the East are looked upon as effeminate and infamous.”