The Pluriunity of God in the Old Testament

One of the most basic tenets of Judaism – if not the most important concept it has – is the singularity of God. For many Jews, this is the defining feature of Judaism, and it is what sets it apart from Christianity. “God is one, not three,” is the catch-cry of many Jews when faced with a Christian colleague. The concept of the Trinity is, after all, a Christian idea, and found only in the dreck[1] which we call the New Testament.

 

An Oddity in Verbiage

However, one does not need to look far in the Old Testament – or, as Jews would call it, the Bible, as it is the only part of the Bible which Jews acknowledge – to cast the absolute singularity of God into question. In fact, twenty-six verses is as far as one need read to find a rather difficult oddity in verbiage:

Vayyomer elohiym na’aseh adam betsalmenu kidmotenu[2]”, translated “And God said, let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness[3].”

This verbal oddity is to be found in the word na’aseh, a form of ʔSH, meaning “to make”. In particularly, it is a cohortative verb in the first person plural conjugation[4]. I stress the word plural: Hebrew is not a language with a “Royal We”[5], and the use of a plural verb always indicates a plural subject. God also uses a plural cohortative verb for himself twice in Genesis 11:7, when he sais “let Us go down and let Us confuse” – or, as in the original Hebrew, “nerdah ve-nablah”.

In Genesis 1:26 above, God has also used a first person plural possessive in the nouns “tselem” and “dmot”, both of which may be translated as “likeness”. He does the same in Genesis 3:22, where He says, “the man has become like one of Us” – or, in Hebrew, “ha’adam hayah ki-achad mimenu”.

 

The Great Shema

What are we to make of this? After all, doesn’t the Great Shema itself say that “the Lord is One”? How is it possible for a singular Lord to refer to himself in plurals?

We need look no further than the Shema itself for a clue. Deteronomy 6:4 reads:

Shema’ yisrael YHVH eloheynu YHVH echad

It’s easy to focus on the echad – “one” – and skip the bit before – after all, Elohiym is a common designation for God throughout the Bible. The word eloheynu means “our gods”; –eynu is the possessive suffix for a plural noun[6]. A singular “our god” would be elohenu. The difference is slight – a single yud, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet – but it is there.

Besides, the designation Elohiym is all over the place, and one of the first things any student of the Hebrew language learns is that anything ending with –im is a plural! Why, then, is God called Elohiym – “gods” – rather than simple Eloh? On the face of it, the Shema makes no sense – Hear, Israel, YHVH your gods, YHVH is one. He is a plural and yet He is one? Logic dictates that this is invalid by very definition! How can it be?

God’s Glory

Let us step back for a moment to example one of the few instances where God Himself is actually seen in the Scriptures: Daniel 7. “I watched till thrones were put in place,” Daniel records, “And the Ancient of Days was seated[7].” He continues, going on to describe this Ancient of Days in terms which can only indicate the everlasting God – thousands upon thousands ministering to Him and standing before Him. We are left with no doubt that the one whom Daniel is describing is God.

And yet, let us read what Daniel says happened next:

I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before Him. Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him[8].”

A Jewish interpretation of the interaction described is that the one “like a son of man” – ke-var enosh – is simply a human, perhaps David or one of his descendants, a righteous king who is given a kingdom over all the earth[9]. This is because a similar term, ben adam, is used more than one hundred times to mean “mortal”[10]. However, in almost every instance, the phrase used is, in fact, ben adam, not bar enosh. The word enosh is used in Job 25:6, Psalm 8:5, Isaiah 51:12 and 56:2, but in each instance only on its own. The only time at which it is used in construct with ben or the Aramaic equivalent bar is in Daniel 7.

Moreover, Daniel is quite specific in using the preposition ke, meaning “as” or “like”. He describes the figure whom he sees as ke-var enosh – “like a son of man” – and not merely as bar enosh, or “a son of man”. The implication is, therefore, that the figure seen merely resembled a human, but was not, in fact, a human.

So, in this verse, we are able to see that someone other than the Ancient of Days, someone resembling a mortal human and yet not a mortal human, came to God’s throne and was given glory. And yet, what did the prophet Isaiah record of God, but that “I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another[11]”? Since God does not lie, then he must not be giving His glory to another in the encounter witnessed by Daniel. This Son of Man must therefore not be distinct from the Ancient of Days – they must be one. And yet, Daniel sees them as two figures.

 

Thrice-Holy

We have seen now that God is a plural, and we have also seen that He has at least two aspects or persons, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. And yet, as many a Hebrew scholar will know, the Biblical Hebrew language has not just singular and plural nouns, but also dual nouns. Were God a dual entity, He would be Elohayim, not Elohiym. Plurals in Biblical Hebrew referred to quantities of three or more.

We are given some clues as to just how many are part of God’s plurality of being. The prophet Isaiah, like Daniel, records an instance of seeing God Himself in His heavenly temple:

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory[12]!”

In Hebrew, the seraphim are saying, “Qadosh qadosh qadosh YHVH tsebaot” – the Lord, thrice-holy.

The prophet Jeremiah likewise records a motif of three:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: […] ‘Do not trust in these lying words, saying “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these”.’[13]

In Hebrew, God – YHVH tsebaot – says “heykal YHVH, heykal YHVH, heykal YHVH” – three times, the temple of YHVH. God is a plural, not a singular or a dual – He is a plural, thrice-holy.

 

Pluralities in the Scriptures

We saw earlier that God referred to Himself in the plural, as well as referring to His temple three times, but is it possible that other figures in the Bible also understood God to be a plural? Yes, it must be, as throughout the Bible, we see others using plurals to refer to God. I will give you nine examples, three examples of three types[14].

For the first, in three places, God is described as doing something with a plural conjugation of a verb (verb in question emboldened in each):

Vayhiy ka’esher hit’u otiy elohiym…”, translated “And it was, when Elohiym caused me to wander[15]

Kiy sham niglu elayv ha’elohiym…”, translated “Because it was there God appeared to him[16]

Goy echad ba-arets esher halku-elohiym lifdot-lo…”, translated “The one people on earth which God went to redeem for himself…[17]

In each of the three above instances, elohiym is used with the plural verb. This is unusual, because although elohiym is a plural noun, in most of its more than four thousand occurances in the Bible, it is used with a singular verb. Additionally, three times is elohiym used in construct or predicate with another plural noun or participle:

Ayyeh eloah asay?”, translated “Where is God my Maker[18]?”

Kiy-od odenu yeshu’ot panay velohay”, translated “Because still I will praise Him, my salvation and my God.[19]

Ak yesh-elohiym shoftiym ba-arets”, translated “Surely He is a God who judges on the earth.[20]

Particular attention should be given to the second verse in the above, from Psalm 42, which uses a singular pronoun for “praise Him”, immediately followed by the plural nouns describing the one being praised. In addition, while it might be expected to use a plural in construct or in predicate with another plural noun, there are a further three instances where a plural noun is used to describe God in the absence of the noun Elohiym:

Yismach yisrael be-‘asayv”, translated “Let Israel be joyful in his Maker.[21]

Ozkar et-boreyka”, translated “Remember your Creator.[22]

Kiy bo’elayik ‘osayik”, translated “For your husbands are your Maker.[23]

This last is particularly interesting because it continues, “YHVH tsebaot shemo”, meaning “YHVH of Hosts is His name”, a designation which we have seen used by both Isaiah and Jeremiah – and “his” is singular, a contrast to the plural of “Makers”.  This, as we have seen, is a common theme: where God is concerned, singulars and plurals are freely interchanged – and possible, one might think, because God is both plural and singular.

 

In Conclusion

Thus far in the discussion, we have seen that God refers to himself in the plural from the very beginning. The third word in the Bible is Elohiym – God – and is in fact a plural, which means something of three or more. He uses plural verbs and plural pronouns to refer to himself in Genesis 1:26, 3:22, and 11:7. Other writers and speakers throughout the Bible do the same, and even in the Great Shema, the cornerstone of Judaism’s monotheism, we see this plural – YHVH eloheynu, the LORD our gods, is one, an apparent impossibility.

We have seen also another impossibility, this one in Daniel’s vision of God, the Ancient of Days, giving glory and dominion to another person – despite having told us through Isaiah that He would not do so! We are forced, then, to conclude that these two figures are in fact one and the same – both God, both the YHVH of Isaiah’s recorded statement.

But Elohiym is a plural, not a dual, and in the prophets, in Isaiah’s vision we see the heavenly host crying out “holy holy holy YHVH” – the thrice-holy God. Even God Himself repeats Himself three times, saying in Jeremiah’s vision “the temple of YHVH, the temple of YHVH, the temple of YHVH”.

Shema, Yisrael: YHVH eloheynu, YHVH echad.

Hear, O Israel: God is a plural, at least three in being – and yet He is most certainly One.



[1] Yiddish for “rubbish”

[2] A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible, 2008, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Bereshiyt [Genesis] 1:26, transliteration mine.

[3] Genesis 1:26, NKJV

[4] Beall, T S, & Banks, W A, 1986, Old Testament Parsing Guide, Genesis-Esther, The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, USA.

[5] There exists the idea of a Hebrew “plural of majesty” (pluralis majesticus) which has gained some credence as an explanation for the Genesis plurals. However, I do not believe it can be upheld as it is inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. Although proponents of the pluralis majesticus explanation argue that it was used by kings and rulers in the ancient world to give edicts, its use is not recorded by any of the kings in the Bible.

A good rebuttal for the idea of the pluralis majesticus may be found at: Boshoff, R P, 2013, The plural of majesty: The “We” & “Us” use in the Hebrew Old Testament, Blogspot, accessed 24 June 2016, Tessellation: Wanderings & Wonderings, <http://rabtessera.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/the-plural-of-majesty-we-us-use-in.html&gt;

[6] Pratico, G D, & Van Pelt, M V, 2001, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; pg 82, section 9.4, Masculine Nouns with Pronominal Suffixes

[7] Daniel 7:9a, NKJV

[8] Daniel 7:13-14a, NKJV

[9] Rosencruft, E, 2012, Jewish Interpretation of Daniel 7:13-14, StackExchange, accessed 2 June 2016, Biblical Hermeneutics, <http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1756/jewish-interpretation-of-daniel-713-14&gt;

[10] Son of Man (Judaism), 2015, Wikipedia, accessed 2 June 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_man_%28Judaism%29&gt;

[11] Isaiah 42:8a-b, NKJV

[12] Isaiah 6:1-3, NKJV

[13] Jeremiah 7:3-4, abridged, NKJV

[14] This was strictly unintentional, and is just how the verses turn out. I’m not one for numerology, but it is a rather tidy way to make a point.

[15] Ibid 2; Bereshiyt [Genesis] 20:13, transliteration and translation mine

[16] Ibid 2: Bereshiyt [Genesis] 35:7, transliteration and translation mine

[17] Ibid 2: Shmuel Bet [2 Samuel] 7:23, transliteration and translation mine

[18] Ibid 2; Iyob [Job] 35:10, transliteration and translation mine

[19] Ibid 2: Tehilliym [Psalms] 43:5b, transliteration and translation mine

[20] Ibid 2: Tehilliym 58:12 [Psalm 58:11b], transliteration and translation mine

[21] Ibid 2: Tehilliym [Psalms] 149:2, transliteration and translation mine

[22] Ibid 2: Qohelet [Ecclesiastes] 12:1a, transliteration and translation mine

[23] Ibid 2: Yesa’yahu [Isaiah] 54:4a, transliteration and translation mine



An essay presented for the “Theological Overview” class at ACM in July 2016. Grade given: 87.25% (High Distinction), for a lack of bibliography (why do I always forget that?). 

The assignment given was “a research paper on any topic covered in the course”, which wasn’t an especially helpful prompt given that it was “Theological Overview” and we’d skimmed over just about everything.

But I’d been dealing with a lot of Jews and a lot of non-Trinitarian “Christians” at that point, so I wondered if it were possible to get a doctrine of the Trinity out of just the Old Testament. Only a few days before I settled on the topic, the Hebrew teacher had recited the Shema, and then turned to part of the class and emphasised, “Echad. One!” in a way which could only be a jab at the Christians. “Eloheinu,” I’d replied, “Plural.” And so an idea was born.

When I chose the topic, I thought I’d have to end the essay inconclusively, so I was quite pleased to find I could actually prove it.

Advertisements

5-EBI Now Streaming

5-EBI is now streaming online in up to 65 languages.

5-EBI (which stands for “Ethnic Broadcasters Incorporated”) is Adelaide’s multi-ethnic and multi-lingual radio station and has been broadcasting from 103.1FM since 1979, having been broadcasting five programmes a week since 1975.

Monday
1130-0600: music only: “World Trax”
0600-0630: English: Deutsche Welle “World in Progress”
0630-0730: Deutsch: “Hamburger Hafenkonzert”
0730-0800: English: Cook Island programme
0800-0900: Malti: Maltese programme
0900-1100: English: “A Foreign Affair” with David Sabine
1100-1200: English: “Today with You” with Ewart Shaw
1200-1300: English: “The Three Amigos”
1300-1400: English: “Football Plus” with Peter and Dieter
1400-1600: Deutsch: German programme “Deutschland Aktuell”
1600-1630: English: “Arts on Air” with Ewart Shaw
1630-1700: English: Ukrainian programme “Pioneer”
1700-1800: Polski: Polish programme
1800-1900: Malti: Maltese programme
1900-1930: English: Russian youth programme “Let’s get together”
1930-2030: music only: “EBI Music”
2030-2130: Kurdi: Kurdish programme
2130-2200: music only: “EBI Music”
2200-2300: Deutsch: “Hamburger Hafenkonzert”
2300-0000: English “Rhythm Nations” with Don Ellis

Tuesday
0000-0600:
music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: Ellhnika: Greek programme “Minima Agapis”
0700-0800: Italiano: Italian programme
0800-0900: Khmer: Cambodian programme
0900-1100: English: “A Foreign Affair” with David Sabine
1100-1200: English: “Today with You” with Ewart Shaw
1200-1230: English: Deutsche Welle “The Journal”
1230-1330: English, Gaidhlig: Scottish programme
1330-1430: English, Gaeilge: Irish programme
1430-1500: Portugues: Portuguese programme
1500-1600: Ellhnika: Greek programme “Hmerologion Zohs”
1600-1700: Deutsch: German programme
1700-1730: Russkiy: Russian programme
1730-1800: English: Deutsche Welle “Pulse”
1800-1900: English: “Planet Sound”
1900-2000: Dansk: Danish programme
2000-2100: Khmer: Cambodian programme
2100-2300: Vosa Vakaviti, English: Fijian programme
2300-0000: English: “FM Nightcap” with Malcolm MacKellar

Wednesday
0000-0600:
music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: Masri Arabic: Egyptian programme
0700-0900: music only: “EBI Music”
0900-1100: English: “A Foreign Affair” with David Sabine
1100-1200: English: “Today with You” with Ewart Shaw
1200-1230: English: Deutsche Welle “The Journal”
1230-1300: Myanma Bhasa: Burmese programme
1300-1400: Tieng Viet: Vietnamese programme
1400-1500: Deutsch: German programme
1500-1600: Ukrayinska: Ukrainian programme
1600-1700: English: Greek programme “History & Culture”
1700-1800: Bahasa: Indonesian programme “RISA”
1800-1900: Russkiy: Russian programme
1900-1930: Slovenscina: Slovenian programme
1930-2030: music only: “EBI Music”
2030-2130: Deutsch: Austrian programme “Musikalisches Kaleidoscop”
2130-2230: Bengali: Bangladesh programme
2230-0000: English: “Folk Till Midnight” with Eric Ford

Thursday
0000-0600:
music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: English: “Good Morning Folk”
0700-0800: Italiano: Italian programme
0800-0900: Ellhnika: Greek programme “Xenimma Esiodoxias”
0900-1100: English: “A Foreign Affair” with David Sabine
1100-1200: English: “Today with You” with Ewart Shaw
1200-1230: English: Deutsche Welle “The Journal”
1230-1330: Tagalog: Filipino programme “Hal0-Halo Espesyal”
1330-1400: Italiano: Italian programme
1400-1500: Ellhnika: Greek programme
1500-1600: Deutsch: German programme “Buntes Allerlei”
1600-1700: Polszczyzna: Polish programme
1700-1900: Hrvatski: Croatian programme
1900-2000: Latviesu: Latvian programme “Latvju Balss”
2000-0000: Nederlands, English: Dutch programme “Dutch Family Programme”

Friday
0000-0600
: music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: English: “Hear the World”
0700-0800: Italiano: Italian programme
0800-0900: Ellhnika, English: Greek Orthodox Community programme
0900-1100: English: “A Foreign Affair” with David Sabine
1100-1200: English: “Today with You” with Ewart Shaw
1200-1230: English: Deutsche Welle “The Journal”
1230-1300: English: “Science Fiction Review” with Malcolm MacKellar
1300-1330: music only: “EBI Music”
1330-1400: Italiano: Italian programme
1400-1430: English: Cook Islands programme
1430-1530: English: Greek programme “I Listen and Learn”
1530-1600: English: Tongan youth programme
1600-1700: Lea Fakatonga, English: Tongan programme
1700-1800: Nederlands: Dutch programme “De week die was, de week die komt”
1800-2000: Srpski, English: Serbian youth programme
2000-2100: Makedonskh: Macedonian programme
2100-2130: Tagalog: Filipino programme “Harana”
2130-2230: Af-Soomaali: Somali programme
2230-2330: English: Deutsche Welle “Inside Europe”
2330-0000: music only: “EBI Music”

Saturday
0000-0600:
music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: Srpski: Serbian programme
0700-0800: English: Indian programme
0800-0900: Polszczyzna: Polish programme
0900-1000: Lietuviu Kalba: Lithuanian programme
1000-1100: Portugues: Portuguese programme
1100-1200: Espanol: Spanish programme
1200-1330: Castellano: Latin American programme
1330-1400: various: Eritrean programme
1400-1500: Masri Arabic: Egyptian programme
1500-1600: Srpski: Serbian programme
1600-1700: Ellhnika: Cypriot programme
1700-1800: English: Celtic programme
1800-1900: Schwyzertuutsch: Swiss programme “Schweizer Ecke”
1900-1930: Deutsch: Australian programme “Singendes Klingendes Oesterreich”
1930-2000: Deutsch: German programme
2000-2100: music only: “EBI Music”
2100-0100: English: “International Rendezvous”

Sunday
0100-0600
: music only: “World Trax”
0600-0700: English: “In His Name” with Cristina Descalzi
0700-0730: Gagana Samoa: Samoan programme
0730-0830: Malti: Maltese programme
0830-0900: Tagalog: Filipino programme “Radyo Pilipino”
0900-1000: Slovensky jazyk: Slovak programme
1000-1030: German: German programme “Bundesliga Results”
1030-1130: German: Austrian programme “Gruess Gott – Guten Morgan”
1130-1200: Makedonski: Macedonian programme
1200-1300: Hrvatski: Croatian programme
1300-1400: Magyar: Hungarian programme
1400-1430: Slovenscina: Slovenian programme
1430-1530: Ukrayinska: Ukrainian programme
1530-1600: English: Indian programme
1600-1700: Bulgarsky: Bulgarian programme
1700-1800: Ellhnika: Greek programme
1800-1900: various: Sudanese programme
1900-1930: Makedonski: Macedonian programme
1930-2030: Vosa Vakaviti, English: Fijian programme
2030-2130: Russkiy: Russian programme
2130-1015: Guanhua/Mandarin: Chinese programme
2015-2100: Gwongjau-Wah/Cantonese: Chinese programme
2100-2130: music only: “EBI Chinese Trax”

All times given are Central Australian Time (GMT+9.30 or GMT+10.30).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelaide French School

A bilingual French-English school will be starting in Adelaide with the first Reception intake next year. Apparently they’ve been plotting it for up to two years, but with sheer dozens of submarine-builders arriving from France in the next few years, it’s being launched at exactly the right time for it to seem like an economically-wise initiative. Check out their website or visit their FaceBook page.

Une école bilingue française-anglaise commencera à Adélaïde avec la classe première du Reception (Grande section) l’année prochaine. C’est dit qu’ ils ont prévu l’école jusqu’à deux ans, mais beaucoup des constructeurs du sous-marin arrivera de France au cours des prochaines années et donc c’est le bon moment pour annoncer l’école comme un investissement économique. Regarde leur site-oueb ou visite leur page FaceBook.

5 Headcovering Patterns

So, I was “tidying” a filing cabinet I used a few years ago and found a couple of sewing patterns. Well, actually, I found a lot of sewing patterns. Well, I found a couple of branded sewing patterns and half a dozen back-bodice-front-bodice-sleeve combinations (I think I must have drawn myself a new pattern every time I needed a new dress for a few years there). And three complete headcovering patterns I’d completely forgotten about.

I thought someone out there might be interested in them – any headcoverers out there? Anyway, so here they are. The grid is meant to be 1cm spacing, so you might have to print-and-scale-copy-by-hand or something if you want to use them.

Hanging Veil

Headcovering - Kite VeilAlso known as “kite veil”, “simple veil”, or a million and one other things. This basic idea seems to be the most common sort of headcovering amongst non-denom Christian women at the moment (not that I really hang around much on headcovering sites these days).

It’s a fairly simple one-piece proposition, and best made out of polycotton knit, lycra, or some other sort of stretchy material – that gives the best drape. An old t-shirt is a good option.

You can adjust the size by measuring head circumference (that’s the horizontal length) and also from hairline to wherever you want it to fall (that’s the vertical length).

First, trim the front and back. You can do a simple seam (use a zig-zagging stitch) or attack elasticised lace. Then, I sew it together on the straight bit opposite the fold. This makes it into a tube-like thing which is simple to put on – just pull over your head and attach at the front. The whole process takes maybe an hour to make (I hand-sew) and about thirty seconds or less to put on in the morning.

Simple “Kapp”

Headcovering - Bonnet Cap

For something “simple”, it’s the most complicated pattern here in that it has three pieces. I think I originally adapted it from a how-to at Shepherd’s Hill Homestead, although I can’t find it anymore and can’t even get onto the site at the moment.

I wore it for a while, but eventually decided that a kapp-style headcovering simply did not work with my head – it needed constant readjusting.

First, sew the front (and sides) of the brim.

Next, pleat the crown. I did 5 pleats up each side (opening down) and 4 pleats along the bottom (opening out), about 1cm deep. Pleats should be as long as to the grey line marked, and you can iron or not iron as desired – depends on the look you want. You could probably even sew them down into darts if you wanted – I think I did that once.

At the very least, sew the pleats down along the edge before you attach the brim. Finish it off with the binding – it probably doesn’t need to be as wide as in the picture, but apply it like bias-binding. I used to do it all the way to the front of the brim to finish it off nicely all the way along the bottom. You can also cut the binding longer if you want to make it into ties, but I found the angle was a little awkward, although that might be better if you make the pattern larger – which I probably would if I made it again, since it sits a bit further back on the head than I would like.

“Common Mennonite” Veil

Headcovering - Common Mennonite VeilThat’s the name that was written on it by the lady that gave it to me, anyway (although I don’t think she was Mennonite). It’s the one from which I developed the hanging veil pattern I use. I might refer to this one as a “brimmed veil”.

Upon reviewing her instructions, I’m pretty sure the piece I’ve labled “brim” was actually meant to be a bias of some sort, but I believe what I did at the time was gather along the top and wear it with a brim, a bit like a cross between a veil and an open-back kapp. I found the press-stud closure (it’s labled “snaps closure” on the original pattern) to be a bit impractical and ended up pinning it, I think, although as I look at the pattern now, I think I might attach strings to the brim if I did it again, perhaps.

Open-Back Kapp

Headcovering - Open-Back KappI couldn’t find the brim pattern for this one, so I’ve put in the brim from the last – I’d probably cut it a bit wider, though, or perhaps use the brim from the simple kapp. I think I probably conflated the two patterns when they were given to me, which is why I ended up making the other one like an open-back kapp.

Anyway, the original pattern has noted on it “this one pattern can be done a few ways for different looks”, and there are options for a smaller fit or fewer pleats (place the fold an inch in), a straight hem at the bottom (which would be easier to sew, apparently), and also a notation that the curved hem could be turned into casing for elastic.

I think with the gathers, brim, and elastic at the bottom it could become another simple kapp pattern, although I suspect it might have a back-shape reminiscent of Lancaster County Amish ladies (you know, the distinctive heart thing). I just don’t like gathering anything – I’d rather pleat any day (it must be the Scottish in me, but I honestly used to have nightmares about gathering. I could never get the hang of it). I presume that you should add ties at the edges of the brim.

Snood

Headcovering - SnoodThis one was already on my computer; that’s why it looks different. I don’t know that I ever made it up, but it looks like it should work well enough, although perhaps with a wider brim than that.

I would probably use some sort of stretchy material like for my hanging veil headcoverings; sew the two bags together along the sides at bottom (top is to the left of the picture), sew the front of the brim, gather the front of the bag and attach the two. I’m wondering about attaching some sort of drawstring, elastic or tie to the ends of the brim.

I sort of want to make a snood now, because I think it might make things easier on those days I can’t be bothered putting my hair in a bun or if I have a headache or something like that. But I can’t seem to get anything to stay put on my head, even with some sort of pin or clip, unless my hair is tied firmly back, so there wouldn’t really be much point since I’d have to tie my head back anyway.

Other Patterns

For another headcoverer’s take on the hanging veil (plus a pattern and lots of step-by-step pictures, check out the Seven Farmgirl Sisters’ Headcovering Tutorial.

You can also get lots of patterns from Candle On the Hill, who also offer the Friends Patterns patterns for various regional Amish headcovering/kapp styles. I haven’t used any of these patterns, though, so I don’t know what they’re like, and you have to pay for them. Candle On the Hill does offer a free headcovering (hanging veil) “pattern”, but what it actually is is a list of instructions basically amounting to “cut out a circle and hem it”.

Another note – I started off attaching the headcoverings with straight pins, which worked surprisingly well (although it looks a bit like you’ve stapled the headcovering to your head, according to several people who commented on it at the time). These days I use little white (1.5-inch) bobby pins, which you can find if you search online at cosmetic supply shops. I’m currently working through a 120g tub which should last me… the rest of my life. My headcoverings are mostly white, with a few pastels, so it works, but occasionally I revert back to wearing a bandanna-style covering, which I did for a while, and I sometimes pin those if they’re darker colours.

You don’t need a pattern for the bandanna-style covering – just take a large square (not smaller than 50cm square), fold it into a triangle, and tie it under your bun. I don’t really like how they sit – I always get annoying “wings” and it gets assymetrical very easily (yes, I’ve been accused of being OCD). But if you use a reasonably drapey material, it’s not so bad.

I think that’s about everything. A shout-out to any headcovering ladies out there! I hope you find the patterns useful.

Oh, another note – I mentioned at the beginning the bodice-and-sleeves patterns I used to make. I did it by tracing around a dress I liked, if memory serves, and toyed for a bit with measuring myself and drawing my own patterns. I had varying degrees of success (but got better at it when I was about 12 and realised sleeves were meant to be shaped at the top!).

These days, I use a pattern from Gehmans Fabrics, from whom I also buy my dress material (I cannot speak highly enough of the material offered at Gehmans – do yourself a favour and buy it rather than go to Spotlight. It’s worth the shipping cost) – although I do add an extra inch to the bodice and a few inches to the skirt and arms – I’ve come to the conclusion that the Germanic Mennonite women must simply be a bit of a different shape to me, but the dress pattern is simple (just six pieces, including separate cape pieces) and very easy to use, and comes on very sturdy paper.