Lost in Translation; What’s a Hem?

Did you ever wonder what was special about the hem of Jesus’ garment? What would the hem actually be referring to? A common definition of hem is, “a border of a cloth article doubled back and stitched down” Was it the “hem” that the woman who was healed touched, as Jesus walked by? Maybe looking at the scripture with a Hebraic mindset instead of a Roman, Greek or 21st century Christian mindset may clear things up.

Mat 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
Mat 9:21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
Mat 9:22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Mat 9:20 And, G2532  behold, G2400  a woman, G1135  which was diseased with an issue of blood G131  twelve G1427  years, G2094  came G4334  behind G3693  him, and touched G680  the G3588 hem G2899of his G846  garment: G2440

What is meant by hem? Is that actually what is being said here? Let’s look at Strong’s G2899.

Of uncertain derivation; a margin, that is, (specifically) a fringe or tassel: – border, hem.

In the book of Numbers יהוה God tells Moses to have the people wear tassels.

Num 15:37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 15:38 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:
Num 15:39 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:
Num 15:40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
Num 15:41 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.

Num 15:38 Speak H1696  unto H413  the children H1121  of Israel, H3478  and bid H559 H413  them that they make H6213  them fringes H6734 in H5921  the borders H3671  of their garments H899  throughout their generations, H1755  and that they put H5414  upon H5921  the fringe H6734  of the borders H3671  a ribband H6616  of blue: H8504

The fringe is Strong’s H6734 in Hebrew. A quick comparison to the Greek Septuagint will show that Strong’s 2899 is used in this verse in Numbers for fringe.

BDB Definition:
1) fringe, tassel, lock
Part of Speech: noun feminine

Num 15:38 λαλησον G2980 V-AAD-2S  τοις G3588 T-DPM  υιοις G5207 N-DPM  ισραηλ G2474 N-PRI  και G2532 CONJ  ερεις V-FAI-2S  προς G4314 PREP  αυτους G846 D-APM  και G2532 CONJ  ποιησατωσαν G4160 V-AAD-3P  εαυτοις G1438 D-DPMκρασπεδα G2899 N-APN  επι G1909 PREP  τα G3588 T-APN  πτερυγια G4419 N-APN  των G3588 T-GPN  ιματιων G2440 N-GPN  αυτων G846 D-GPM  εις G1519 PREP  τας G3588 T-APF  γενεας G1074 N-APF  αυτων G846 D-GPM  και G2532 CONJ  επιθησετε G2007 V-FAI-2P  επι G1909 PREP  τα G3588 T-APN κρασπεδαn G2899 N-APN  των G3588 T-GPN  πτερυγιων G4419 N-GPN  κλωσμα N-ASN  υακινθινον G5191 A-ASN

The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that was started in the third century BC. It was a common translation quoted by the Apostles and it is a great way to see how the Greek words in the New Testament times compare to their Hebrew meanings.

Jesus was wearing tassels, or tzit tzit, just as the Torah commanded. When a person looked at their tassels it was supposed to remind them to keep the commandments. Right after Moses told the people about יהוה God’s commandments to wear tassels, Korah rebelled.

Num 16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men.
Num 16:2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men.
Num 16:3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”
Num 16:4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face,
Num 16:5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

Num 16:19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.
Num 16:20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
Num 16:21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
Num 16:22 And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?”
Num 16:23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 16:24 “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
Num 16:25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.
Num 16:26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.”

These fringes and tassels can be seen in many cultures from the dispersion of the Northern Kingdom of Israel into the nations after they were conquered by the Assyrians. “Deu 28:64 And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.”

2Ki 17:16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.
2Ki 17:17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
2Ki 17:18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.
2Ki 17:19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced.
2Ki 17:20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

This dispersion was prophesied by Moses that the people would not follow יהוה God’s commandments, therefore being scattered.

Deu 28:62 Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Deu 28:63 And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
Deu 28:64 “And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
Deu 28:65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul.
Deu 28:66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.

Ezra, or sometimes called Esdras, speaks of a land far away that many of these dispersed Israelites traveled to called Arsareth.

2Es 13:29 Behold, the days come, when the most High will begin to deliver them that are upon the earth.
2Es 13:30 And he shall come to the astonishment of them that dwell on the earth.
2Es 13:31 And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another.
2Es 13:32 And the time shall be when these things shall come to pass, and the signs shall happen which I shewed thee before, and then shall my Son be declared, whom thou sawest as a man ascending.
2Es 13:33 And when all the people hear his voice, every man shall in their own land leave the battle they have one against another.
2Es 13:34 And an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as thou sawest them, willing to come, and to overcome him by fighting.
2Es 13:35 But he shall stand upon the top of the mount Sion.
2Es 13:36 And Sion shall come, and shall be shewed to all men, being prepared and builded, like as thou sawest the hill graven without hands.
2Es 13:37 And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, which for their wicked life are fallen into the tempest;

2Es 13:38 And shall lay before them their evil thoughts, and the torments wherewith they shall begin to be tormented, which are like unto a flame: and he shall destroy them without labour by the law which is like unto me.
2Es 13:39 And whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceable multitude unto him;
2Es 13:40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.
2Es 13:41 But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt,
2Es 13:42 That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land.
2Es 13:43 And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river.
2Es 13:44 For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over.
2Es 13:45 For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth.

2Es 13:46 Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and now when they shall begin to come,
2Es 13:47 The Highest shall stay the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore sawest thou the multitude with peace.
2Es 13:48 But those that be left behind of thy people are they that are found within my borders.
2Es 13:49 Now when he destroyeth the multitude of the nations that are gathered together, he shall defend his people that remain.
2Es 13:50 And then shall he shew them great wonders.

Jesus speaks of this gathering, similar to the book of second Esdras, which was removed from most modern bibles. The language Jesus uses is a summary of the prophecy in second Esdras.

Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

John the Baptist also spoke of a similar concept: “Mat 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” The sad part is many that think they are doing the work of יהוה God are not, and are just practicing lawlessness. You must determine correctly what exactly “the will of my Father who is in heaven” means. A good place to start is to learn how the Father in heaven, יהוה God, defines lawlessness and iniquity.

Mat 7:17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Mat 7:18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

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