Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Wings of His Garment: Numbers 15:37-41

By Dan Cathcart

When we pray, many of us put on the talit and many of us wear the tzitzit as commanded in Numbers 15:37-40.  This has been an important part of Jewish tradition for millennia, since the time of the exodus and the giving of the Torah.  It is a tradition that has been lost in the Christian community for centuries and, I think should be reintroduced.

The talit and the tzitzit were a major part of the life of Jesus (Yeshua).  Remember the story of the woman with the issue of blood healed by touching the hem of His garment.

Mark 5:25-29 MKJV 25 And a certain woman who had had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and had not been bettered any, but rather came to worse, 27 having heard about Jesus, she came in the press behind and touched His garment. 28 For she said, if I may but touch only His clothes, I will be cured. 29 And instantly the fountain of her blood dried up. And she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

The woman knew that if she touched his clothes she would be healed.  But there was a specific type of outer garment that Yeshua wore, and a specific part of that garment that she touched.  Jewish men, Yeshua being among them, would have worn a long, four cornered garment called a talit.  It was wrapped about the shoulders and draped down below the knees near the ground.  On its outer edges were fringes and in the corners were tassels called in Hebrew tsiytsith (tzitzit.)

Numbers 15:37-41 NIV 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.'"

The English word “tassels” in this passage is the Hebrew word tzitzit:

From the Strong’s Concordance and Dictionary  #6734.  tsiytsith,  tsee-tseeth'   feminine of #6731; a floral or wing-like projection, i.e. a forelock of hair, a tassel:--fringe, lock.

Although the Bible only describes the Tzitzit as containing one blue cord, saying nothing about other colors or how to tie it, Jewish tradition has them as consisting of 3 cords of white and 1 blue.  This is the part of Yeshua garment that the woman would have touched.  This is important because she would have been very familiar with the messianic scriptures (especially those of the prophet Malachi) concerning the healing abilities of the Messiah.

Malachi 4:2 MKJV 2 But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, and healing will be on His wings…

The Messiah would have the characteristic of “healing in His wings”.  Another word used in the Numbers passage above is “corners”.  Some English translations use fringes or borders.  This is translated from the Hebrew word “kanaph”

#3671.  kanaph,  kaw-nawf' from #3670; an edge or extremity; specifically (of a bird or army) a wing, (of a garment or bed-clothing) a flap, (of the earth) a quarter, (of a building) a pinnacle:--+ bird, border, corner, end, feather(-ed), X flying, + (one an-)other, overspreading, X quarters, skirt, X sort, uttermost part, wing((-ed)).

The word kanaph means the wings of a garment, which are the corners, and the commandment in Numbers 15 was to place the tzitzit at the corners of the talit.  The woman would have understood that Messiah had “healing in His wings” because of the Malichi passage and the place she would have touched was the corner or kanaph, specifically the tzitzit on His talit.

In Matthew 9:21 it records what the woman said:

Matthew 9:21 NKJV 21 For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well."

This adds further meaning to Yeshua’s statement in the following verse:

Matthew 9:22 NKJV 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.

By touching the corner, tassel or tzitzit, the woman was asserting not only faith that by doing so she could be healed, but that the faith that healed her was faith in the Messiah!

We believers can choose to wear the talit with the tassels or tzitzit as a visible reminder of our Messiah who is now seated at the right hand of God.  The tzitzit reminds us to remember Yeshua’s commands and do them, as well as to live a holy life.

John 14:15 NKJV 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Numbers 15:39 NKJV 39 "And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,

1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

The tzitzit are a beautiful picture of Messiah.  And reminds us that it is in His wings that we are healed.


שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed

1 comment:

  1. The tzitzit are a great reminder to walk in His ways. I wear them as a Gentile. Good article!

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