I came across a Christian web page. The subject that caught me was the view on Deut. 22:5 expressed in the page.

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 (Deuteronomy 22:5, NASB).

The gist of the opinion is that the page says that גּבר should not be translated as "man" but as "warrior" and כלי should be implements (weapons, armour) rather than clothing. It seems the page advocates for the following translation:

לא יהיה
Not to be

כלי גבר
implements of warrior

on woman

ו לֹא לבשׁ
and not to wear

a warrior

שׂמלת אשּה
a woman's clothing.

The page explains that the verse does not forbid a woman to put on men's clothing but rather forbids a woman from taking up the arms of a warrior—thus a woman is forbidden from becoming a soldier.

Is this translation viable? If so, what would be meant by "a warrior should not wear a woman's clothing"?

  • 4
    Off topic - why are fundamentalists often are at each other's throats accusing each other of "false teachings"? Just curious.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 9:00
  • Re fundamentalists: you could check out Christianity. You might be a “fundamentalist” if ___ Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 19:24
  • 1
    If you have it, could you post a link to the article? Vaguely related: Did Jesus wear pants? Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 19:29
  • 1
    Not an answer, but on this topic: In the halachik understanding of this verse, the prohibition extends beyond cross-dressing to either sex taking on the gender rôles of the other; specifically, women are indeed forbidden from going armed to war. Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


The entire verse (in Hebrew) reads as follows:

לא יהיה כלי גבר על אשה ולא ילבש גבר שׁמלת אשה כי תועבת יהוה אלהיך כל עשׁה אלה ף

From right-to-left, these words are:

לא - H3808 - Not (when paired with a verb, considered imperative - "Must not")

יהיה - H1961 - Be, become, come to pass, happen

כלי - H3627 - Article, implement, vessel, object; can include concepts of hunting, war, music, tools, or equipment

גבר - H1397 - Man (generally), strong or valiant man, warrior - from H1396, meaning "strong" or "great"

על - H5921 - On, upon, over

אשה - H802 - Woman, wife, female

ולא - H3808 - Not (repeated from above)

ילבש - H3847 - Wear, put on, be clothed with

גבר - H1397 - Man (repeated from above)

שׁמלת - H8071 - Clothing, mantle, garment

אשה - H802 - Woman, wife, female

כי - H3588 - Because

תועבת - H8441 - Disgusting, abomination, unclean, wicked

יהוה - H3069 - Jehovah

אלהיך - H430 - God

כל - H3605 - All, everything

עשׁה - H6213 - To do, fashion, make, act, effect, bring about

אלה - H428 - These

As noted in the article you read, the wording is actually different between these two categories. The prohibition for women does appear to be focused upon the tools or instruments of the man, not his clothing.

Based on these meanings, we could state the verse something like this:

It must not happen that the [gear, equipment] of a man* are on (worn by) a woman, nor should a man* put on the clothing of a woman. God is disgusted by both of these.

To answer your specific question, it comes down to how one translates גבר - "man" or "warrior". Note that the word most frequently translated "man" in the OT is מאיש - H376. This is also the base word for the word translated "woman" here. On the other hand, the word גבר is overwhelmingly translated "man" rather than "warrior".

If it were intended to be a blanket statement against women wearing men's clothing, he probably would have written שׁמלת מאיש instead. For the second part, it does seem slightly broader in context ("clothing" vs. "equipment") but the object is the same "man" as before.

  • So, a woman should not try to be dominant/valiant but demure?
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    @BlessedGeek Provers 31 indicates that a woman should be valiant.
    – user2027
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 18:25

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