“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Hem of His Garment

Matthew 9:18 - 22 -- While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live. And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, If I only touch his garment, I will be made well. Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well. And instantly the woman was made well.

I wanted to look at this encounter, and try to set the context, maybe providing a bit of insight into this event.

Jesus has been walking amongst the people of Capernaum teaching and performing miracles, and has gathered a large following of people. During this time, Jesus is approached by Jairus, a leader, in order have him come and heal his daughter.

So, Jesus gets up to follow Jairus to his home, and amongst the throng was a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years. She determines to simply touch this amazing rabbi’s cloak at the fringe, and what happens is an amazing event!

Jesus would have been wearing a Tallit (prayer shawl). However, His tallit would not have been like the modern tallit, which has been reduced in size to simply a shawl. Rather, Jesus would have been wearing a full-length cloak that would have had tzit-tzit (tassels) attached to the four corners.

These tzit-tzit were commanded to be worn by God in Numbers 15:38 -- “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner…” and Deuteronomy 22:12 -- “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.”

The reasoning for these tassels in explained in Numbers 15:39 -- “And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.”

So Jesus, being an observant Jew, would have had a garment with tassels on the corners. It is one of these tassels that the woman grasped – in the Greek, the word used is kraspedon, which is the same word that was used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew tzit-tzit.

These fringes are attached to the corner of the tallit; the corners are known, in Hebrew, as kanaph, or wings. When a Jewish man dons his tallit, he will often reflect on Psalm 36:7 -- How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Now what does it have to do with the story? Well, the factof the matter is that the woman did not simply reach out and touch Jesus, thinking the touch itself would heal her, but rather she was reaching out in faith – as she reached for the fringe of His garment, she would have been reflecting on a well-known Messianic passage in the Old Testament, found in Malachi 4:2 – “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. The word wings here is the word kanaph!

The people of that day were looking for the Messiah, and as this woman heard more and more about this rabbi, her thoughts would have turned to the passage that states that there will be found healing in the wings of the Sun of Righteousness. And Jesus responded! MANY were touching Him in the crowd, but only one touched Him in faith – faith in who He was!


Anonymous said...

The woman took hold of (grasped) the tsitsit, the knotting which represented THE WORD OF GOD. All today who grasp the Word of God (either Christ the living Word or God's written Word) are, like the woman, healed in their spirit forever! Would that more would grasp Christ as he comes by to seek and to save that which is lost.


Ray said...

Good words Dave!

Anonymous said...

the women was desperate,physically,financially,spiritually.she was also determined noting the disciples attitude,her situation.Jesus delivered her and declared to her that daugher your faith has made you well.