The Tale of Two Jewish Women
We read from Mark 5:25-26
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse…
There is a lot of information given to us about this suffering woman. First, that being sick for so long, no one, no doctor could heal her. Second, in her search for a solution, she became bankrupt and no longer had money for further cures. Third, that her illness had reached a critical condition. We read that it had grown worse. A literal reading of the Greek renders this as: the worse had arrived, indicating that death had almost been reached. It leaves us to conclude that she might have been about to die.
Despite all these sad conditions, somehow this woman had such faith in Yeshua. In her desperate state, she decided to go to Him, but in a most extraordinary way. The Spirit walks us through her thought process in vv.27-28. After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His garment. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”
Now, that is a powerful testimony of faith we are seeing here. She only wanted to touch His garment, knowing that if she did, she would get healed. How did she know that just touching Yeshua’s garment would bring a recovery? Who told her or instilled in her such great faith? It could have only been the Spirit of God. Here was a lost soul, because no man could approach her according to the Law in Leviticus 15:25. It says that this type of hemorrhage would make anyone unclean, separated from the people and from the place where God was, the Temple. Her physical condition was considered a defilement but this was not the case in terms of her spiritual condition.
This woman responded to her God given gift of faith and, although not welcome in the crowd because of her condition, she nevertheless persevered, hoped in the Messiah and through that touch, was healed.
What part of His garment was she trying to touch? Matthew 9:20 and Luke 8:44 tell us. We read that she touched the tassels of His garment. What are the tassels or the fringes of His garment? They were His tzitzit or tassels as commanded in Numbers 15, these same fringes of a garment Yeshua wore all through His life from the time of his Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12 years old. The Greek word for fringes in the Gospels is the same word that the rabbis used for tzitzit or tassels when they translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the Septuagint. This was a commandment of the Mosaic Law under which Yeshua lived.
What is behind these fringes, these tassels? There is great symbolism here. First, the Hebrew word, tzitzit comes from a word meaning to blossom, like Aaron’s rod which blossomed in the darkness of the Holy of Holies. They represented the miracle of life. Furthermore, others say that the root word, sis, represents the gold plate on the front of the High Priest’s frontlet where the words Holy to the Lord was engraved. They represented holiness to the Lord.
There is something else to observe in the color of the tassels. The color is translated as blue from the word teklet, which reminds us of the color of heaven, the place of God. When Moses met God on Mount Sinai, the ground was teklet, blue, as these tassels were to be. So, we have light, life, holiness, and heaven associated with the tassels. This is what the woman wanted to reach.
In one work written around 150 A.D., in the Sifre (commentary) on Numbers, the writer sums it all up for us in saying: Scripture teaches that if one keeps the commandment about the tzitzit, it will be credited to him as if he greeted the face of the Shekinah הקביל פני שכינה (= as if he looked at the deity). For the blue-purple (tassels) is like the sea (the color of the sea), and the sea is like heaven, and heaven is like the (divine) throne of glory. (SB on John 1, Sifre Numbers 15:39 § 115 (34B): R. Meir)
These fringes were a reminder of what life is, what holiness is, and what godliness is to the Jewish people. Since this woman could not really approach any man because of her condition, she decided to touch what is a most important part of the garment of the Messiah, which she did and then was healed.
The Awakening Touch
In chapter 5 of Mark, we see two women who have much in common. Yeshua met both of them as he was returning to Jewish territory. Could these two women represent Israel in some way?
The first woman had been ill for 12 years. The second, Jairus’ daughter, was about 12 years old according to Luke. This repetition of the number 12 reminds us of the 12 tribes of Israel. Both are seen as daughters, which remind us of the daughters of Zion. Both were about to die, but both are saved by the Messiah.
Both women remind us of the revival of Israel after 2,000 years when the nation rose again in 1948. This event fulfilled the dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37, referring to what seemed dead, but what was not. At the beginning of the chapter, Ezekiel is brought into a valley covered with dry bones and the Lord asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” These bones looked so much like Israel in the Diaspora, persecuted with no chance of survival, and so the Lord asks, “can these bones live?” Yes, they will! As the two women did.
Even today, many believe that Israel is like these two women who are sick, about to die, and to disappear. Have you noticed the increase in anti-Jewish feelings especially in social media and universities around the world? There is also an increasing number of conspiracy theories and rumors going around against this nation, convincing many that the world is better off without Israel. They try to erase any global influence she might have and even attempt to erase her entirely from the map.
But these accounts which are marked all over with references to Israel tell us that Yeshua is after her, to heal her and bring her to greater heights, to make her the head and not the tail. (Deut. 28:13) In fact we are told in Romans 9-11 how Israel’s revival is not only life from the dead for her, but for the whole world. Paul reminds us in Romans 11:25: For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Israel may appear dead, but Jesus will raise her up to become that priestly nation. Even Jairus who is twice called a synagogue official, brings us right into the midst of Israel. Since there is no J sound in Hebrew, his name is Yāʾîr which means “He enlightens” or “God awakens”.
Yes! He will awaken Israel at the proper time.