Updated: Sep 3
The Power is in his Garment
Why did the woman in the Gospels reach for the fringe of Jesus’ clothes? The power is in his garment.
In this video, I am standing outside Jerusalem with the desert to my back and the northern tip of the Dead Sea just beyond the hills. My group is going on a camel ride after returning from a laboratory that recently recovered the sky-blue or “biblical blue” color prescribed for clothing in the Old Testament (Numbers 15:38).
One of the pieces of clothing to use this blue is called “tzitzit”. What is “tzitzit”? Tzitzit is the fringe or tassels that hang from the four corners of a Jewish man’s garment, like Jesus’ garment. At some point following the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the identity of the source of the blue dye was lost. Since then, most Jewish men wear plain white tassels on their garments.
The Hebrew word referring to the garments’ corners, where the blue tassels attach, holds significant meaning. “Corners” and can be translated as “wings”, like the wings of a bird or a cherubim. “Wings” can also refer to a place of refuge, shelter, and the hope of rescue. * In the first century, Jews like the Disciples were waiting for Messiah to come with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2A). In other words, they were waiting for the healing that would exude from him even through his garment. It was like a healing power center.
“If I just touch His garments, I will get well” she said reaching for the tzitzit of his garment (Mark 5:28). Smart woman. Of course, the power came from Jesus, but the culture of the time gives us a hint as to the deeper meaning of her gesture. Who better to go to for healing power than Jesus?
*(Psalm 91:4), shelter (Ps. 61:4), and hope of rescue (Ruth 3:9).
The story of the woman with the Issue of Blood appears in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48.
Hebrew vocabulary words:
Kanaph (wings, corners of the garment)
Tekhelet (“biblical blue”)
The tallit is so integral to Jewish prayer life that eventually a man would be buried with it and is most likely the “face cloth” mentioned in John 20:6-7.
The instructions for the tallit comes from these and other Old Testament passages:
Numbers 15:37-39. “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves tsitsit on the corners of their garments throughout their generations. And they shall place upon the tsitsit of each corner a thread of tekhelet… And you shall see it and remember all of the commandments of Hashem and you shall do them,” Numbers 15: 37-39
Deuteronomy 22:12. “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.”
In ancient times purple and blue dyes derived were so rare and sought after that they were literally worth their weight in gold. These precious dyes colored the robes of the kings and princes of Media, Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome. To wear them was to be identified with royalty.
Because she was sick, the woman’s touch would have made him “unclean” thus temporarily restricting him from worshiping freely at the Temple.
Where are you reaching to get the healing you need? For the woman in the crowd, healing was within reach, she focused on Jesus, showed-up and extended her hand. This model is one we can immolate.
Closer look: She suffered from a blood disorder (hemorrhaging) for 12 years. The number twelve is significant in the bible, elements in the Tabernacle included 12 silver plates, bowls, bulls, rams, and male lambs. 12 tribes, 12 spies, 12 baskets full of leftovers and on and on. The number twelve can be found in 187 places in God's word: 22 in Revelation alone. The fact that she was sick for 12 years, didn’t escape heaven’s notice. She was bound to make his glory known.
I suggest today that healing is closer than you think (Romans 10:8). In the presence of Jesus, let him be the object of your attention.