The Fringe of His Garment

There is a story in the gospels which describes a healing involving Jesus’ clothes. A woman, who suffered with a hemorrhage for twelve years, touched a fringe of Jesus’ garment in hope thinking, “’…if I only touch His garment, I will get well.’ But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well.” (Mat 9:21-22) Why is this woman’s healing tied to her faith and what is so special about the fringe of Jesus’ cloak?

Many Bible readers realize that she did not simply touch Yeshua’s clothes, she touched the κράσπεδον (kraspedon) “hem”, “edge”, “fringe” or “corner” of his garment. Torah describes this special part of Israelite clothing.  God instructed Moses, “…they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD… I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.” (Num. 15:38-41).

This is the commandment of צִיצִית (tzitzit) “tassels” or “fringes” worn on four-cornered garments like a tallit. The purpose of such tassels is very specific – to remind Israel about their inseparable connection to God (i.e. to remind them about the covenant). The Hebrew word צִיצִית (tzitzit) is related to verb נָצָה (natzah) “to fly”. Another form of this same verb, הִצָּה (hitzah) means “to struggle”, “to strive”, or “to try really hard”.

In her encounter with Jesus, this daughter of Abraham grasped the fringe of Messiah’s garment in faith and struggle, leaping up to God and his anointed, trying as hard as she could to appeal to her connection with God, and trusting his covenant promises. She got hold of Jesus’ tzitzit and would not let it go. Her faith in God’s faithfulness and goodness turned out to be well justified.

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