Last weekend, Yahweh opened my eyes to see connections I’d not quite made, and left me in bittersweet tears as He gave me such a Beautiful Affirmation in my walk with Him. I want to share it with you, but first need to set the stage with a little bit of background.
Numbers 15: 37Yahweh said to Moses, 38“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of YHWH, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are incline to whore after. 40So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 41 I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am YHWH your God.”
It’s an unusual direction – Make tassles on the corners of your garment, put a blue cord in each. It’s a reminder to keep the commandments. Yet, it’s not so unusual. We human’s need things to help us remember our commitments and obligations, and we need others to remember too… which is, in part, what a wedding band does.
Originally, the 4-cornered garment was called a Katan, and was like a poncho. Rectangular shaped, with a hole in the middle for the head, draped over the arms, and then tied at the waist. A larger garment, reaching to the ankles was called a tallit gadol. However, the fringes on the bottom of both definitely set the Hebrews apart, and in times of persecution, it wasn’t a desired thing to “stand out” so, the outer Katan lost the tassles, and a much smaller piece of cloth was hung around the neck inside the inner garment, with the tassles attached. (today, these are worn on the belt or belt buckle) However, the desire to have an outward visual reminder if only for personal worship led to the creation of a “Tallit” or prayer shawl, and by the time of the second temple any of the above were appropriate options. Rabbis, being detail oriented as they are, soon set out guidelines for how they were to be made, how the tassles were to be tied, etc. Each winding, each knot of the tassle stood for something.
As Jews wrapped themselves in the tallit, they did so, as they still do today, with a blessing which was also embroidered across the top or atarrah of the tallit, “Baruch Attah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehit’atef betzitzit”. The blessing is translated as “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast hallowed us by thy commandments, and commanded us to wrap ourselves in fringes. The Talmud (oral tradition) teaches that when you wear a tallit, you covered by God. The tallit was a reminder that each Jew who wore one was connected to the eternal and ever-present, promises of God in the Torah. It was seen as a sign of Yahweh’s Authority and our humility to Him.
When I first learned about the tallit, it was in the context of the story of Yeshua healing the woman with the issue of blood. Matthew 9:20-22: “Just then a woman, who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment; for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus (Yeshua) turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ He said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.” In the Mark account of the same story, it continues:
“At once Yeshua realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched My clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against You,’ His disciples answered, ‘and yet You can ask, Who touched Me?'” (Mk. 5:30-31).
The teacher said that the woman was acting on faith by touching the hem or fringes of Yeshua’s cloak. Because, the outer corners of the tallit are known as the “wings” and she remembered that the prophet Malachi spoke of the Messiah of Israel and said, “But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2)
This story stuck with me for months. I just kept getting this prompting to reach out in faith, to take hold of the border of His tallit. I did a bit of searching and finally found someone who made linen tallits (most are made from silk, or wool, but I wanted linen, as it has healing properties and both the priests, and the bride of Christ from Revelation are clothed with linen. Still, I wasn’t sure of myself, of this nudging, so I waited.
While I waited I also learned that in a Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom takes the bride from under her Father’s tallit, and covers himself and her with his tallit, symbolizing his covenant to her, that she is coming under his covering – spiritually, but also temporally, as in, financial and needs met covering.
One evening during worship with the local Messianic congregation, there was a time of prayer, and many of the participants were kneeling on the floor. One of the elders had his tallit over his head. His wife came over to him, and knelt beside him. In a very simple act, he covered her with his tallit, as they both bowed in prayer. The beauty of the act, in that moment touched me so deeply that my heart literally ached.
I tried to tell my sister in law about it later, but my words fell short of truly communicating the depth of just what happened and why it touched me so.
Finally, this spring, YHWH nudged me to purchase a handmade prayer shawl for a friend, and I decided I’d ask Rudy if I could purchase one for myself also. He balked a bit. We’d just been studying the verses about head covering in 1 Cor 11 and had determined Paul was talking about authority, not making a case for women’s heads to be covered at all times, so he didn’t understand why I’d want a shawl to cover my head with. I tried to explain the nudging to take a step in faith, and symbolically take hold of the Hem or Fringes of Yeshua’s garment for healing, of all of me; that I was wanting to do something in the tangible to symbolize that act of faith (much like baptism is a bodily symbol of something way deeper) but I’m not sure it made sense. I don’t find many things that I just want to have tho, and hail was falling – which means income was coming, so he said, “It’s something you want, I don’t have to understand why, go ahead and get it.” Little did either of us know the events that would transpire from the time I made the order till the tallit was completed. We didn’t know that we would be separated & headed toward divorce, thanks to his disobedience to YHWH and his choices, words, & actions out of that disobedience which left the foundation of trust shattered, and my heart broken. We didn’t know how poignant the symbol of what the tallit points to would be. Yahweh did tho.
I received my tallit a couple of weeks ago, on a Friday. I opened it on Sabbath, anointed it and took some time in worship with Him. It’s beautiful, with embroidery, and hand bead work. A lovely cream with green lines and small purple flowers and goldenrod stitching as accents. It’s very me. The words on the atarah say, “Healing in His Wings”. Buying it, having it was an outward, bodily expression of an inward desire to have His healing in my life, to be made Whole.
Last Friday night, at worship, my aunts, grandfather and mom sang the song, “Under His Wings”
Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.
As I listened, all the things I know about the tallit came rushing thru my mind, and I began to wonder, and think that all the texts which speak of being Under Yahweh’s Wings were speaking of being under His Tallit, and there because of the covenant marriage relationship He has with His children! Jesus once said, of Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” and when we hear the term “Under His Wings” we think of His words… but just like so many things in Hebrew, he was using a word which meant more than one thing, and he was using a word picture of one meaning to show something even deeper in the second meaning of the word. Not just his desire to gather the brood like a chicken, but His desire to be Husband to His People!!! We lose that meaning, cause we don’t understand the words’ dual meaning…
Going back to my family, singing. I was so touched. I knew I wanted to know more, I knew I wanted to search it out, to be sure what I’d been taught about the “wings” being the hem and corners of the tallit was true. But, But… until then; the idea that when we come “Under His Wings” we are coming under covenant marriage relationship with Him was just Beautiful!!!
The next morning, after dropping of the boys, I pulled into the library parking lot, tho the library was closed, and opened my computer. Yes! their public wifi was on! Off I went to blueletterbible.org, a site that has a fully searchable Strong’s as well as a lexicon or two, and 10 or so different versions of Scripture, including the Septuagint should anyone read Greek.
I looked up the term word Wings… and found many examples in the OT. Some, speak of the wings of a bird, most often the outer edge of the wings of the bird, however, the word is “kanaph” and it means:
1) wing, extremity, edge, winged, border, corner, shirt
1) skirt, corner (of garment)
and any time the word Kanaph is used regarding clothing, it refers to the edge, the corner, the place where Yahweh told the people to tie the fringes of their garment in Deut & Numbers (thereby defining exactly what is meant by the use of the word Kanaph in re to clothing), so, it’s natural to tie the word Kanaph to the tallit, or Katan – depending on the preference of the wearer.
The Kanaph is the part of Samuel’s garment that Saul tore in fear as Samuel left him after Saul disobeyed Yah. It’s the part of Saul’s cloak that David cut off in the cave. It’s the “skirt” that Ruth asked Boaz to spread over her.
Zechariah makes an interesting prophecy, the context being, “Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” (Zech 8:3) and says, of this same part of the garment – “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the YHWH of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before Yahweh.
Thus saith Yahweh of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zech 8:22, 23)
And there are scores of verses, many in Psalms, that speak of taking shelter under the shadow of His Wings.
There were several verses tho, that spoke directly to me, to my situation, to my heart!
Ruth 2: 11, 12 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. YHWH repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by YHWH, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
Here, Ruth, a single woman, is commended for having taken refuge under the wings of Yah; Under Covenant relationship with Yahweh!!! Confirmation to me as a single woman (no the divorce isn’t legally final, but the spiritual, emotional divorce was a forceful, painful rending that took place back in Sept). It’s more than appropriate for me to take shelter under His wings, not just as it is for all of us to take refuge in Yahweh, but specifically as my personal husband and provider. As in Ruth’s case, He often uses humans to do that provision, but I am to look to Him as the provider, not the human delivering the money nor the human in whose home I’m living.
The next verse was so tender, so beautiful, that it left me in tears. It was if He was speaking to me personally. Yes, it also confirmed the practice of the groom covering the bride with his tallit, and confirmed the meaning of “under His wings”, but that was secondary to His voice to me, to my heart…
The context is Yahweh speaking to His unfaithful bride, and He’s telling her story from the beginning… First when she was a babe, and then…
Exekiel 16:8 -14
8 “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the ‘corner of my garment’ (kanaph) over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord YAHWEH, and you became mine. 9Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord YHWH.
His words. To Me. Right now, in this moment. I had to read them again and again…
When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love,
and I spread the ‘corner of my tallit’ (kanaph) over you and covered your nakedness;
I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord YAHWEH,
and you became mine.
I didn’t know, when I ordered my tallit, what it would mean to my heart, what it would symbolize. I didn’t know just how much I would need Him to be my husband. He did. He knew the violation yet to come. He gave me the nudge to purchase a tallit way before hand.
Now, when I wear it, when I see it, I’m reminded.
He made His vow to me,
and entered into a covenant marriage with me,
and I have become His!!!
I can rest safely in the shadow of His Healing Wings!
He will be my Shelter, My Provider, My Husband!
Thank you Yahshua!!!
We can abide, Safely, Under His Wings, His Covenant of Love!!!