Matt 9:20-22 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." 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.
Mal 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.
One important Jewish concept, which is often missed in English translations of the Bible, concerns the story of a woman with an issue of blood, recorded in Matthew 9:20-21. Having heard that the Messiah was near, the woman said within herself, "If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole." The text indicates that it was specifically the hem of His garment that she touched, an important detail from an Hebraic viewpoint.
The English word hem is a translation of a Greek word meaning a tassel of twisted wool. The woman was, in fact, reaching for the tassels on Jesus prayer shawl. In Hebrew, these tassels, which are attached to the corners of the prayer shawl, are called tzitzit. They were, and still are, worn by observant Jews in fulfillment of the biblical commandments found in Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12 and are intended to remind the people of God s commandments.
In Numbers 15:38 the word translated border or corner is a Hebrew word which can also be translated wings as it is some seventy-six times in the biblical text. For this reason, the corners of the prayer shawl are often called wings. Each tzitzit consists of five double knots and eight threads, a total of thirteen elements. This number added to six hundred, the Hebraic numerical value of the word tzitzit points to the six hundred and thirteen commandments of the Torah.
In Jesus' day, Jewish men wore a simple tunic both at home and at work. When appearing in public, they would cover their tunic with a large rectangular cloth which draped over the shoulder and fell to the ankles. This cloth was called a tallit and served as protection from cold and rain. Hanging from the end of each of its four corners (wings) was a tzitzit in obedience to the biblical command.
Through the centuries, during times of persecution, Jews were often forbidden to wear the tzitzit on the outside of their garments. This forced them to wear a small four-cornered tallit under their shirts. Today the prayer shawl is called a tallit. During the first century there were several traditions associated with the tzitzit concerning Messiah. One was that these knotted fringes possessed healing powers. This tradition has its roots in the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 where the Messiah is said to be coming with healing in His wings.
Certainly the woman with the issue of blood knew of these traditions, which would explain why she sought to touch the corner (the wings) of Jesus' prayer garment. The same word used in Numbers 15:38 for corner is used in Malachi 4:2 for wings. With this understanding in mind, an ancient Jew under the prayer shawl could be said to be dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and under His wings (Ps. 91:1-4). When one realized the significance of this concept to the first-century Hebraic mind, it becomes clear why this woman was instantly healed. She was expressing her faith in Jesus as the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings and declaring her faith in God's prophetic Word.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still able to heal, in every way, those who will press in to touch the hem of His garment. He is still the Son of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings. As we seek Him with our whole heart, let us expect His healing power to make us whole in every area of our life.
The above article was written by Dr. Richard Booker and is used with permission. The article in entitled "The Hem of His Garment" and can be found in it's entirety at the Sounds of the Trumpet/ Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies web page.