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Under the Shadow of
In the face of an impending war with
The Biblical hero Boaz (a type of Jesus) told Ruth (a type of the Church) that she had come under the protective care of the God of Israel. His poetic words characterized her relationship with God as, “under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12). So I pose a question to all of you who walk in the shoes of modern day Ruth, “Do you feel secure; and do your words express that absolute confidence in the fact that you are protected ‘under the shadow of His wings?’”
What specifically are those “wings” of which Boaz spoke? Are they actual wings like an angel might have? If God has wings and humans are made in the likeness (image) of God, then why don’t we humans have wings too? What significance, if any for contemporary Christians may be contained in those literal or figurative “wings;” “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Mal 4:2). There is uncertainty about God’s wings! Therefore, it appears that we clearly need to learn more about the “wings” of the Most High God whom we serve!
To comprehend God’s wings,
let us first begin to understand the “wings” that God established for His
As a result of that command in the Book of Numbers concerning these special types of clothes, the Hebrew people came up with a garment that today is known as the tallit. This special garment has four corners with fringes tsee-tseeth'; while in prayer the Jewish people often wrap one of the fringes (like a string) around their fingers, “it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD” (Num 15:39). This is most likely the origin of the practice of tying a string around ones finger in order to remember something. The picture at the right illustrates the tallit prayer shawl notice the four corners (tsee-tseeth' – meaning, a wing–like object or a tassel)
The Hebrew Garment – Tallit is Central Theme of the Bible Study
An ancient prophet named Balaam was hired to curse the
When Moses constructed the tabernacle in the wilderness it covered less than 1,000 square feet. There were 2,000,000 people with him in the wilderness! Therefore, the prayer shawls became a portable tabernacle under which every person could worship on their own! One of the several oral blessings that the Hebrews might repeat in later years when putting the prayer shawl over themselves was, “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” (Ps 104:1&2). In one of Jesus’ teachings He said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet” (Matt 6:6); there are many who claim that He was at least symbolically making a reference to a tallit. When the Jewish person puts on his tallit, he first kisses the written blessing on the tallit, and may repeat Psalm 104:1-2 as we have just seen during this type of prayer the supplicant would generally have his head covered like ‘the closing of a door.’
We mentioned that the Jewish people kiss the inscribed blessing on the tallit (notice the Hebrew inscription above Librada’s head in the previous picture); the words on that portion of the garment often has the inscription, “Blessed art thou Eternal our God Creator of heaven and earth who has sanctified us by his commandments and has commanded us to wear garments with fringes;” alternatively, an inscription may be, “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace,” these are but two of the most common blessings. We already mentioned that many recite Psalm 104 when putting on their tallit. However, there are various blessings that are popular such as Psalm 36:7, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” This concept is exactly what Boaz was talking about when he told Ruth, “under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12). Keep in mind the concept of remaining “under the shadow of His wings;” we will return to this concept several times. The four corners of the tallit represent the wings. On these “wing” corners are tassels (tsee-tseeth') which are the prominent aspect of the garment. Notice the (tsee-tseeth') are tied in knots.
There are several varieties of tallitot (plural form of the word tallit). One is the tallit gadol which the large tallit and qualifies as an outer garments. Next is a tallit katan, which is more like an undergarment or a t-shirt with fringes. Finally there is simply the tallit, which is more of a prayer shawl. Tallitot are not restricted to white and blue, which is most common; indeed they can be any variety of colors. Joseph’s multicolored coat may well have been an outer garment, which is known among the Jews as a tallit gadol. We will expand this concept much more as we review the story of Joseph.
Key Aspect – Tallit is a Symbol of Love and Close Intimacy
The most significant concept regarding the tallit is that the Hebrew is supposed to grow in intimacy, and in appreciation of God’s presence while under the tallit! In the same fashion that a father with his young child, might completely wrap the little body in a bath towel; so too, the Almighty engulfs His worshipping children while wrapped within their tallit or garment of praise! The tallit has generally been acknowledged as the ‘garment of glory!’
Intimacy is so closely associated with the tallit that Jewish maidens as a matter of custom often give a tallit to their fiancées prior to their marriage; the implied message associated with the gift is, “I give you my heart!” The various elements of the composition of the tallit tell an interesting story. Each corner has 8 threads, times four corners = 32. Hebrew letters also represent numbers; thirty-two happens to be the Jewish number for (lev) heart, which appears as follows in Hebrew (b l); likewise (lamed-beit) happens to sum 32. The letter (beit) b, which also represents the number 2, is symbolic of a house. In Spanish the word for marriage is (casados) which when separated into its subparts means (casa) or house, and (dos) which means two. Keep in mind this concept of two in a house, as it will crop up again as we investigate the tallit. Now remember that 32 is associated with the tallit and the Hebrew word for heart (lev) is also 32. The word for heart (lev) (b l) makes an allusion to the actual form or shape of the heart: two inverted (face-to-face lameds see picture below.). The two face-to-face lameds when brought together form a picture of the heart; the Jews believe that this is the form drawn by the Divine Artisan: "God is the strength (artisan) of my heart, and my portion forever" (Psalms 73:26).
God’s word (which is divine knowledge) was given to His bride in order that she may speak with Him, "face-to-face." Moses escorted God (the divine groom) to marry His Jewish People (the divine bride) at the food of Sinai. On that day, these two faces united and became the form of the Jewish Heart. This fusion was like the union of a bride and groom as they aspire upwards together to receive the blessing of the father who is the "third partner" of every marriage. This Old Testament marriage became a picture of what God is performing through the Church; Paul wrote, “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2). Just as the gentile woman Ruth was joined to Boaz, when the bride of Christ (the church) properly views Jesus from His appropriate Hebraic or Jewish perspective, she too ought to present Him with a tallit; her words would say in essence, “I give you my heart!” This does not mean that every church member must literally put on the tallit in order to experience heart-felt prayer; what is needed is that, the church must put on prayerful intimacy with the Almighty!
The modern tallit is generic in its construction as will soon be explained. First, notice the word for tassel is tsee-tseeth' which means “fringes.” tyxyx, is the Hebrew word for “fringes.” The word makes use of two letters named tzaddi, which is the fifth, and final Hebrew letter that has an ordinary and final form. The tzaddi when used at the beginning or in the middle of a word appears as x however, when it appears at the end of the word (remember that Hebrew is read from right to left) it appears as J. This special letter tzaddi, in either form (x)) or (J), sounds like the Hebrew word tzaddik which means “righteousness.” A Hebrew man who is considered truly righteous is called a tzaddik. He is said to portray the qualities of humility and praise to God. His normal kneeling posture with upraised arms would be just like the bent x tzaddi. The final form of J tzaddi, which stands straight and tall is said to “denote the final acceptance of a righteous person in the world to come.” So we naturally conclude that the letter tzaddi is related to the concept of righteousness. The rabbinical meaning of, yud y means (the right hand or work) and the tav t means (the end). Therefore the word “fringes,” tyxyx could easily diagram the phrase “The end is that a righteous man’s work produces a righteous man’s work!” This is the Gospel story of Jesus Christ producing “the righteousness of God” in His church! Now, let’s leave this fascination with Hebrew letters as we begin to focus on the scriptural connotations of the tallit.
The Tallit is a Symbol of – Authority
Unlike the modern
generically knotted tallit, during the Old Testament period the corners
of the garments were tied in accordance with longstanding family
traditions. In fact, various types of
knots became a unique family mark of distinction. This is not unlike the brand that the
American cattleman might use. The tallit knots actually became a symbol
of one’s authority and position within the family. The mark made by the knots on the tallit
when pressed in wax or clay would become a unique distinguishable impression
much like we use a signature in today’s society. The point is that the tassel knots were
symbolic of the authority of the person who wore the garment! Now, for just a moment, consider Joseph’s
coat of many colors and his brother’s unpleasant jealousy in this new context!
Notice this interesting story where authority related to a garment is clearly the theme of the whole context. King Saul had been pursuing David; during the chase, the king went into a cave to relieve himself. It “happened” that David was hiding expectantly in the cave, “Then David arose, and cut off the skirt ((kaw-nawf' this was the same Hebrew word for border (kaw-nawf') of the garment where God had commanded the people to place their tassels! In essence, David cut off the tassel or symbol of authority!) of Saul's robe privily. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt (yet again, we see the Hebrew word kaw-nawf')” (1 Sam 24:4-5). What was the big deal? Why did David’s heart bother him (smite him) so badly? We need to understand the reason for his reaction because we want to begin to recognize the essence of David’s heart, seeing as his heart is like God’s. After all God said that David was, “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). David’s heart bothered him because he realized that he had attacked Saul’s authority, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, (In David’s heart, cutting the garment represented a lapse of respect for Saul’s authority) seeing he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Sam 24:6). David cried out to Saul a little later, “Moreover, my father (meaning, ‘my superior’), see, yea, see the skirt (kaw-nawf') of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. 12 The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee” (1 Sam 24:11-12).
Next, notice Saul’s reaction to the entire incident, “And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? (thus referring to David as my protégée or suboridinate) And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. 17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. 18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. 19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand (Saul began to prophecy powerful words over David that he would one day have Saul’s own authority over the kingdom of Israel.). 21 Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house” (1 Sam 24:16-21). The point is that Saul recognized that because David had such respect for the anointing (authority) over Saul’s life that God would bless David because of his attitude in the whole affair! David remained consistent in his respect for that anointing, “who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD's anointed, and be guiltless?” (1 Sam 26:9).
Notice the authority issue
related to a tallit in the following story which, once again involves
King Saul. He presumptuously decided to
keep alive some things which should have been destroyed according to God’s
command, “Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the
commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed
their voice” (1 Sam 15:24). As a result,
the Prophet Samuel realized that the kingdom would be taken away from Saul
because of his lack of respect for the commandment of God, “Now therefore, I
pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the
LORD. 26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I
will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD,
and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over
Even in the New Testament, we find an interesting occurrence taking place at the stoning of Stephen. The young men who were with Saul laid down their garments at his feet, “and the witnesses laid down their clothes (tallit, laying down their own tallit was symbolic of the fact that they were in compliance with Saul’s greater authority) at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:58). And then they stoned Stephen! Before they engaged in the act of stoning Stephen, the young men were essentially acknowledging Saul’s authority since he was a member of the Sanhedrin or highest court in the land.
Zechariah saw into the future when, “In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men (here, ten men is symbolic of a congregation) shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt (kaw-nawf' –authoirity) of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech 8:23)! These people like Ruth will be driven from within to come under the authority of a Jew! Remember Ruth’s story while on the threshing floor at midnight, as Boaz, “said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt (kaw-nawf' –authoirity) over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman!” In that passage, Ruth yearned to come under Boaz’s authority. Jewish history reports that when a Hebrew woman would become divorced, her tassels (symbols of authority) would be cut form her garments.
The Tallit is a Symbol of – Healing and Resurrection to Life
Old Testament scriptures
foretold of the power which would be contained in the authority of the Messiah,
“unto you that fear my name (symbol of authority) shall the Sun of
righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). Here we find that supernatural healing is
associated with the corners of the garment; remember that is where the “wings”
are located. We have a story in which
“healing in his wings” literally came to pass, “And a woman having an issue of
blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither
could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the
border (tallit) of his garment: and immediately her issue
of blood stanched” (Luke 8:43-44). This
passage is clearly a reference to Jesus’ tallit since the Greek word for
border is (kras'-ped-on; which means a fringe or tassel: a
twisted portion). In another
occasion about “healing in his wings,” Jesus went into, “the
One day Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue came to Jesus and asked him to heal his daughter who was at the point of death. When Jesus arrived at the house to heal the little girl, “they laughed him (Jesus) to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise” (Luke 8:53-54). If Jesus spoke those words in Hebrew He would have said, “Tal’ita cu’mi!” Mark 5:41 say’s, “he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” However, the words, “Tal’ita cu’mi” do not mean, “damsel arise” or “maid arise” as some translations suggest! Linguistically speaking:
· if she been 12 years old He would have said, “Yaldeh cu’mi” meaning little girl arise;
· if she been 13-17 years He would have said, “Almah cu’mi” meaning teen girl arise;
· if she been 18 years or older He would have said, “Betulah cu’mi” meaning miss arise.
On the contrary, Jesus told the girl, “Tal’ita cu’mi” meaning “She which is in tallit (prayer shawl), arise!” Indeed the tallit of Jesus displays that He has the authority to heal, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Mal 4:2).
The Tallit is also Referenced in the New Testament
Finding the tallit in the New Testament is difficult but not impossible. We have just read where many touched the hem of his garment and were healed. In the Greek New Testament there is no single word for tallit. Instead of tallit, a word such as “hem” or some other word such as “sheet,” or “garment” and others have been used. Some people claim that there as many as 47 references to the tallit in the New Testament. One thing is certain, both Paul and Jesus definitely wore a tallit! Jesus came to “fulfill” the law and Paul was a student of the renowned scholar and rabbi Galaliel; all rabbinical students make tallitot.
A tallit is definitely not an actual burial cloth such as the one that was taken off of Lazarus. However, before being wrapped by a burial cloth, the custom was to place a tallit on the person being buried. There is an interesting passage where Jesus left a Napkin (? tallit) folded in the corner! An interesting point is that a tallit is customarily carefully folded as it is being put away, “Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie (apparently just on the floor), 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7). This means that the linen clothes were just left on the floor, while the “napkin” was carefully wrapped. Apparently, when Peter saw the “napkin” (?tallit) wrapped in a separate place, he realized that Jesus’ had left His mark in the tomb!
Simon Peter who was the son of Jonas was appropriately named since he reacted with great reluctance to the gentiles like the prophet Jonah. Peter pretty much had the same attitude toward the gentiles that Jonah the prophet had displayed centuries earlier! Notice the prayer shawl in Peter’s vision, “And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners (this knitting at the corners is a hint that the sheet is not a regular sheet), and let down to the earth” (Acts 10:11). Many imagine from this vision that Peter saw a bed sheet. Not so! God was showing Peter that even the unclean men may enter into the prayer shawl (tallit)! God showed a reluctant Peter that He was launching into an intimate relationship with people from every language nation and tongue “they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).
Paul was a tent maker in
the house of Aquilla and Precilla. Tents
for the purpose of housing in that location and society were uncommon; instead,
everything was made of stone in
There is a prophecy that
God will raise a banner to gather His exiles from
“The blue stripes on the
Zionist flag were inspired by the stripes on the tallit (prayer shawl).
The tallit has two separate symbolic aspects: the light blue hue and the
stripes. Some say that the stripes are meant to recall the one dyed strand of
the ritual fringes (tzitzit). This leads to the significance of the hue itself.
According to the Torah, one strand in the tzitzit should be light blue.” That WEB site also had the following poem;
notice the prophetic significance of the poem which written 80 years before the
When sublime feelings
his heart fill,
He is mantled in the colors of his country
He stands in prayer, wrapped
In a sparkling robe of white.
The hems of the white
Are crowned with broad stripes of blue;
Like the robe of the High Priest,
Adorned with bands of blue threads
These are the colors of
the beloved country,
Blue and white are the borders of
White is the radiance of the priesthood,
And blue, the splendors of the firmament.
A. L. Frankl,
"Juda's Farben," in Ahnenbilder (
concerning this time, “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that
it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of
Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the
children of Israel from the land of the north (notice in the
time zone map to the right that Russia
is directly north of Israel), and from all the lands whither he had driven
them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their
fathers” (Jer 16:14-15). The Jews use a
special term (ali yah), which means to “make a spiritual ascent” or to
“go up.” The Jews believe that those
returning to the
Why is God gathering the
exiles home under the flag that He inspired? The answer is simple, because the
Messiah is getting ready to return. When
they see Him, “they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn”
(Zech 12:10). Messiah shall gather, “the
Notice the passage from the Book of Revelation which says concerning Jesus, “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev 19:16). Notice the verse says, “on his garment” (tallit), there is “a name (symbol of authority) written!” Compare with Ex 6:3! Notice how the tsee-tseeth' (symbol of authority) falls against Librada’s thigh! (See picture below right) The concept behind authority and the concept behind name is one and the same! This picture of Jesus’ return is the last appearance of the tallit in the Bible!
Prior to the Great Tribulation, Jesus is going to pass by His Church; you and I need to reach out and touch the hem of His garment! We Christians need to learn how to present our hearts to Him in worship and prayer. We need to give our LORD a tallit in the same fashion that Jewish maidens give tallitot to their fiancées. In so doing we will be saying, “I give you my heart!” You can claim:
· “hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps 17:8);
· “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Ps 57:1);
· “in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah” (Ps 61:4 I);
“Selah” as the last verse ends, means to “think about it!” Now, do you have an idea of what the wings of the Almighty look like? “Selah”
As we learn about a tallit
we realize that Jesus’ clothing may be strange to our culture. But consider Ruth who is the Church’s
example, she did not one time tell Boaz, “This is the way that we did things
We are the bride of Christ and should be busy getting our garments ready, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Rev 19:7). Obviously, the bride will be focusing on her wedding garments! Have you made your garments ready?