Tassels - Luke 8:43-44- To Wear or Not to Wear

Numbers 15:37-41, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” (KJ

In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew and Luke tell the story of the woman who was healed by touching Yeshua's tzitzit. This is Luke's rendering of the event:

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.” Luke 8:43-44 (KJV)

So, what exactly are these tassels (tzitziot) and why would Yah command them to be worn? It is evident that Yeshua Himself wore these tassels. Should we?

This lesson will be quite lengthy because a thorough understanding is needed. I will begin by talking about symbols or identification badges, or markers.

In what way does our culture determine who we are? Let’s consider some classic symbols that are suppose to define: wedding ring, cross, Star of David, fish symbol, Mother Mary standing out in your flower garden, St. Christopher necklace, WWJD bracelets. In the American culture one might think that expensive cars, huge houses and other materialistic possessions indicate wealth, but the truth is, these things usually just indicate that a person is in debt. However, we associate symbols with the identity of people.

With this idea in mind I would like for us to consider “fringes” (Hebrew tzitzit). What did it mean in many ancient cultures to wear fringes on the border/ hem of garments? According to many, many sources, including http://www.bluethread.com/fringeold.htm , from which the below was taken, we can learn the following:

“ ..Assyrians and Babylonians believed that fringes assured the wearer of the protection of the gods.

..The fringed hem was ornate in comparison with the rest of the outer robe and frequently had tassels

along the edges. This ornate hem was a "symbolic extension of the owner and

more specifically of the owner's rank and authority. "

..Requests accompanied by grasping the fringes of the one from whom you wanted something could

not be refused.

..Exorcists used the hem of a patient's garment in their healing/or cursing ceremonies.

..A husband could divorce his wife by cutting off the hem of his wife's robe. (in some ancient cultures)

..In Mari, an ancient city in what is now Syria, a professional prophet or diviner would enclose with his

report to the King a lock of his hair and a piece of his hem....Sometimes the hem was impressed on a

clay tablet as a kind of signature.

..Fringes could also be pressed onto the clay instead of the hem. E.A.Speiser has suggested that when

we press the corner fringe of the tallit to the Torah scroll we are reflecting this ancient custom.

..The primary significance of the tassel in ancient times was that it was worn only by those who

counted; it was the "I.D. of the nobility."

The wealthier or higher up the status of the person, the more elaborate their hems and tassels were on their garments. Hems and tassels of the common person were not that elaborate.

The Hebrew word tzitzit is translated as fringe or fringes in the Bible. The word tzitzit means “lock of hair”. This is how a fringe or tzitzit probably started in ancient cultures. In Ezekiel 8:3 we read:

"And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy." (KJV)

The word “lock” in this scripture is tzitzit. In other words they grabbed him by the lock of his hair. As with most other things that the Hebrews practiced, the idea of tzitzit was not a new concept. The wearing of “fringes” on garments can be seen in many pictographs from various regions around the ancient world. In fact, there is an ancient pictograph of King Jehu being carried away with his servants by the King of Assyria. They are all wearing “fringes”. As with other things, God took something that already was in their culture and made it unique for his people.

In order for us to understand the significance of stories in the Bible we must appreciate the significance that “fringes” played in the Older Covenant Era. It was primarily royalty and/or the wealthy who had elaborate fringes on their garments; not the common folk. The common person had no status or authority in the world to advertise to others. Another thing, the tzitzit, or fringe, is not the hem of the garment, but rather, it is attached to the hem of the garment. The fringe was a symbol for the person who wore it.

Having said this let’s now explore an OT story about Samuel and Saul. Read the full story in

I Samuel 24:1-20. I will only list one scripture here: