Respecting the Hem
Have you ever wondered why the gal with the bleeding issue (in Mk. 5; Matt. 9) reached for and touched (in the Greek she literally grabbed it, not a mere swipe) Jesus’ hem? Not His sandals, or even His hand? Granted the folks were packed in tight, but why the hem, why so deliberate? Others too desired to touch His hem (Matt. 14:36; Mk 6:56). They went for His authority, His priesthood. In doing so, HE being God in the flesh were healed.
The hem: It goes way back to ancient(er) days, God instructs the Israelites to wear garments with specifically designed borders, hems or fringes also known as tassels. (Nu. 15; Deut. 22; Ex 28). These fringes came to represent authority, personality, their place in society and even lineages were sewn into the hem. Noblemen of the day would sign their name, authenticating, by lifting their robe and pressing the hem into wet clay tablets – specific stitching indicating family and function. Today, we would wear our badge (if you will) on our chest ‘General Manager’ or in the military on the shoulder and sleeve, ‘Captain’. Or a laminated nametag around our neck. The ancients wore it on the fringe.
Remember in 1 Samuel 24, David was running from Saul. David and his men were hiding in the cave and Saul came in to relieve himself? The men urging David on, “Come on, this is your chance!” he snuck up behind Saul and cut off the corner, the hem of his robe. A moment later, David was (as the narrative states) conscience-stricken, he goes out to Saul and humbly shows him the piece of the hem – he could have killed Saul, he didn’t – BUT – David was convicted because he CUT Saul’s lineage and symbolically took away the identity and authority of the Lord’s anointed. It was not God’s instruction; it was not God’s timing. Saul understood what had just taken place, saying: “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” (vv20-21, ESV)
Oh, we may not (although some do) wear traditional stitched hems with customary respect, BUT how often do we too ‘cut’ others? How often have I, cut off another’s personality, authority in an attempt to make ME feel better, cut their fringe, yes under peer pressure trim away so my own badge glows brighter? (OUCH! THIS is painful). May we too (with the wooing of Holy Spirit) be conscience-stricken when we begin to bring out the scissors of the tongue or reach for behavioral shears.
Respecting the hem (symbolically) of others.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Numbers 15:37-41: The fringes were originally designed as a reminder (a visual reminder, for those around and those wearing them) as a mark of their status as the chosen people of God. If YOU are in Jesus, you are marked with His blood, you are ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation, God’s very own possession.‘ (1 Pet 2:9) May we treat each other with such respect. For more on the fringes: Consider these articles: Jesus’ Clothes and Our Rabbi Jesus.
Blessings to you my royally fringed family member of God!