Monday, September 12, 2011

Stitches & Hems

…and begged Him that they might only touch
the hem of His garment.
And as many as touched it
were made perfectly well.  
Matthew 14:36

These verses support the earlier theory concerning the Old Testament account of David and Saul, i.e. that the hem or edge of a garment stood for the wearer's authority. The woman believed that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would experience the power of His person and authority. Her act was not a matter of superstition, but a silent cry for Jesus to grant her His personal attention and healing power.

I don't know about you, but sewing machines are akin to spaceships to me - - fascinating to consider, but impossible to personally employ.  My first real foray into their use was when my children were small, some 35-40 years ago.  I attempted to make this or that for them; stuff they couldn't possibly wear by the time I'd completed it.  Alas, when I eventually cut two left sides to a dress for myself, I rid myself of the tedious tool in favor of all things store-bot.

Today I am ever-so-grateful that I need not sew for myself the sort of garments required of God's people in the early days.  Yet I have often considered why, exactly, people would want to touch the hem of someone's garment as those in Jesus' day did.  Why not reach for His hand, or throw yourself in front of His path?  Why not reach for His pocket, or His cuff?  Why the hem?

To get an answer to this query (and so many others), I dig back into His teachings & requirements as found in the Old Testament. 

The tallit & it's fringes, the tzitzit, help me to better understand my own query.  These items were part & parcel of the authority of God and His people.  They were to remind each Jewish man of his responsibility to fulfill God's commandments.

In fact, the tzitzit are tied into 613 knots to constantly remind them of the 613 laws of Moses, of which there are 365 prohibitions (The "thou shalt not" laws), and 248 affirmations (the "thou shall" laws).  The knots also correspond with the ineffable name of God, the unspoken yod-hey-vav-hey, Yahweh. 

In and of themselves the tzitzit held no power.  Their importance didn't lie in the material, the design, the color, or even their placement on the garment, but in their representative power.  Imagine the Logo emblazoned on a Letterman's Jacket, or we Christians wearing a Bible around our necks.  The symbol is associative. 

Digging further, we learn that nearly all cultures had their own tzitzit.  But God employed what was common in that day to remind His people of His authority & commandments, and their responsibility (and privilege) to obey it.

It is why David cut off the comer of Saul's robe, symbolically demonstrating that the king's authority would be cut off.   It is why we see some of the women of Jesus' day reaching for His hem, having recognized His authority & power.

I'm so grateful I don't have to make for myself a tallit with tzitzit (couldn't they have come up with better names?).   I dare say I'd still be at it, with no hope of ever getting it right.

Today I am free to go sewing-machineless, boldly & directly to the Power Source, to the very Throne Room of God. 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us in our time of need.  
Hebrews 4:16

SOURCES Jews for Jesus; The Refiner's Fire


Peggy said...

I love your post. I share your disdain and ineptness for all things sweing machine related. And thankful, too, that I can go directlty to the source and not have to go through His hem (or the veil).

Rebecca said...

This puts a whole 'nother layer of possible significance to this account! Thanks for passing on what you've studied, Kathleen.

Sonja said...

I am constantly fascinated by the Jewish traditions, and by the symbolic accounts over and over in God's Word. They are such a tool for learning, and the lessons are so clear.

I'm signing up right now to be the first purchaser of your future book! :)


Alice Lynn Alfred said...

This is so well written, and so interesting...makes me realize most have taught the interpretation the wrong way. Thank you for doing the research on is so important to read the Bible through a historical and cultural can add so much more depth of meaning....Thank you, again!! Much love ~ alice AND WELCOME HOME FROM VACATION!!!

Pain to Purpose said...

I love the Jewish tradition and culture! I too am lost with a sewing machine. I can't even sew on a button!!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Love it!

I'm with you on the sewing machine thingy. I made a skirt and blouse in sewing class in high school. By the time I finished, I'd outgrown it.

Your explanation of the significance of the hem is new to me. Thanks for this interesting morsel. I'll be chewing on that one for quite a while.

rcubes said...

My mom was a dressmaker and I never even learned to sew!

It's neat to learn more about what the "hem" meant. Glory be to God for Jesus' righteousness that we can truly approach the throne boldly! Blessings.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Yes and Amen..doesn't researching Jewish History just bring the word of God to life?? I never get tired of it, and I still have so much to learn.

Saleslady371 said...

I can mend on the sewing machine. I find the Jewish Roots much more interesting than sewing and I praise God that I can "go direct" to the throne room!