The Woman With the Issue of Blood
If I can just touch him, Jesus. I will be made well. He is my last hope. My only hope. I have been ill so long that I cannot remember what it is like to be well.
Twelve years. Twelve years ago the bleeding started and it has not stopped. I have watched my life seep away. Twelve years of isolation and loneliness.
They call me the woman with the issue of blood, forgetting that I have a name.
More than anything else it is the loneliness that wounds.
You see, I am an untouchable. An outcast. I am treated as if I were a leper.
I cannot recline at table with my family, nor share a couch, nor sleep in the same room. All my utensils must be separate. All of my clothes washed apart from theirs. My Mother cannot come into my bedroom to kiss me good night. Nor can she help me plait my hair in the morning, beautiful hair, they say, luxurious, bay-red.
It is not that they do not love me. No, they despair for me, wringing their hands in anguish when they think I am not looking; giving me anxious glances. .
If I go to the the market place with my mother, I must be careful not to pick up the materials or feel the silks with my hands. They give me a pitying look and scatter when I come near.
I will never know what it is like to have a young man fall in love with me, though I see their glances. I will never be able to sleep beside a husband as two spoons, or cradle a babe in my arms.
Sometimes the plague will stop, but never beyond the seven day ceremonial cleansing period.
And the cost! I have sacrificed everything to be healed. Physician after physician has taken my money and all of their remedies are powerless. My family's savings have been depleted and there is No cure!
Where is G-d? Where is the G-d who led the children of Israel out of Egypt? Where is the G-d who parted the Red Sea?
My Father is a scribe in the Synagogue, and in the long tradition of his forefathers, has been a scholar at the old rabbinical school in Tiberius. He is also an interpreter of the law. At any time he may be seen bent over his scrolls and parchments. He may spend an entire day in the design and execution of one beautiful letter. Whenever he writes the sacred name, he must take the mikvah. My wonderful Father is very scrupulous about the law—the law that keeps me prisoner.
He shakes his head when he looks at me, “beauty wasted,” he mutters.
Weekly, I bring two turtledoves and two pigeons to the priest for a sin offering and a guilt offering. Are my offerings unclean too? I cannot enter the Synagogue. I must creep up a back stairs and slip into an empty room to hear the Torah read.
But now, this Jesus, I have heard him called the great physician, and I know if I can touch Him, I will be made well! And today is my chance. Yeshua, Jesus, is in Galilee and people have been speaking of him for months. I have heard about the cures, the deaf hear and the blind see and the lame leap!
You see, some hope sprung up in me some time ago when I heard Jairus, our Synagogue leader, open the scroll of Malachi. I was sitting in an upper chamber, alone, of course, and he read:
“The son of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings.”
This verse pierced my heart. Could Jesus be the Son of Righteousness?
And now he is here! I know if I can touch him, I can be made well.
My mother is kneading our daily bread and doesn't see me leave. I am so frightened that someone will recognize me. I make my way toward a large gathering. It is a bright day and somewhere a bird's melody can be heard in the Sycamores. Please, g-d. Let me be invisible.
If I can just push through this crowd. If I am recognized everyone will shout, “unclean!” And I will have to leave. So far I am safe, all attention is focused on Jesus. No one notices me, yet.
I get closer and closer. I am pushed and shoved, but I have one goal, to touch his talit, to touch the fringes on the corners of his garment, his wings. I know there is healing in his wings.
There are so many people and I am weak with this effort. All I can think is Get closer, get closer, get close enough to touch the fringes on the wings of his prayer shawl.
A crowd is thronging around him and parts briefly to let someone through; it is Jairus. He is gesturing and earnestly speaking to Jesus. Now Jesus and his men are following Jairus. There are anxious murmurs, something about Jairus' daughter.
I keep shoving and there are so many people and I am not strong. All I can think is get closer, get closer, get closer. Oh No, Will I lose my chance?
I know that if I touch him, I will be made well. Look! He is so near. I crouch down. And at last my hand reaches toward his prayer shawl. Now I grasp the holy fringes knotted with the name of YHVH.
Suddenly, I feel power. Electricity is traveling up my arm and now is shooting deep inside of me
Something is happening. I am drying up. The bleeding has stopped. Joy, Oh joy!
Then, something fearful happens. Jesus stops abruptly.
“Who touched me,” he asks.
I hear accusation.
I am so afraid. I cower, trembling. I broke the law; I have offended Ha Shem.
The men with him say,
“All of this crowd is pressing around you, and you ask, 'who touched me?'”
I know what Jesus means. He means, who has taken my power without asking!
I touched a Rabbi, forbidden for a woman, let alone an unclean woman. I have violated him.
I throw myself at his feet, careful not to touch him. “I touched you,” I say.
“Because I was sick and have bled for twelve years. I am unclean. I know the law of Moshe.
But I believed if I could just touch you, the wings of your garment, I would be made well.
Please forgive me.”
I am trembling. My blush is a deepening scald. I cannot look into his eyes. I wait for his scornful, “Unclean.” He will not be able to hurry fast enough to wash away my contamination. Perhaps I will cause him to be unable to attend Jairus.
The crowd closes in like a noose. They lean in to hear his rebuke.
He says, “Daughter.”
There is no condemnation in his voice, a voice sweeter than honey and like the sound of many waters.
He says, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole. Go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
He reaches down
and gently lifts me to my feet. My shame slips away like a cloak.
I am a feather in his hands ready to float on wings of joys. Hope
sings in me. My healing is his gift to me to keep forever. I am
no longer the woman with the issue of blood. I am a daughter of
Abraham, a daughter of faith, able to touch and be touched. I
touched the Son of Righteousness and I was made whole.
Talit: Prayer shawl. Archaeological evidence in the Israeli museum shows prayer shawls that date back to the time of Christ. No doubt he wore the shawl and the fringes required by the Mosaic law.
Tzitzit: or in Greek Kraspedon were fringes to be worn on the corners of an Israelite's garments, by command of God. To what garments were they attached? Conceivably they could be put on any garment that had four corners. It is possible that Jesus in his day to day life and travels wore tzitzit on clothing other than a prayer shawl, but we can be sure that he routinely wore tzitzit. Perhaps the woman at the well in Samaria knew he was a Jew because she saw his tzitzit. Pharisees wore them, some a lot too grandly.
Corners or wings: (Hebrew Kanaph ) were parts of the garments where the fringes were to be worn. Would the corners or wings (kanaphs) of garments have special meaning to Jewish people who came in contact with Jesus?Very much so!
Yeshua: Hebrew name for Jesus. Jesus in Hebrew is pronounced Ye-shu'-a) which has the meaning “salvation” in the fullest sense, healing, prosperity, shalom, in addition to a part in the world to come. The beautiful thing is that the verb for save, yash'a –make perfectly whole-- has the same root as Yesh.
You shall call his name Yeshua for he shall yoshi'a his people from their sins.
Mt.9.20-22—a woman with an issue of blood—touched the tzitzit (Greek kraspedon) of his garment for she said, “If I touch his garment, I shall be ivashe'a. Yeshua turned around, he said, 'Thy faith has mad thee hoshi'ah. And the woman was mad tivasha from that hour.
Mt. 14.34-36: Land of Gennesaret, . . . brought all who were diseased that they might touch the tzitzit (kraspedon) of his garment . . .were made nosha'u.
Mikvah: Hebrew for total immersion. Baptism is not an New Covenant concept but originates in the Old.
I am indebted to Faye Sinclair for her thorough teaching on the talit and the Hebrew name of Jesus.