(The Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, a literal translation by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator, with the transliterated Hebrew names of the Father and Son, Yahweh and Yahshua - added.)
FRINGES AND TASSELS – WHAT?
What do people mean when they refer to fringes and/or tassels? What do the Scriptures say about them? What is their purpose? Another word used today is “tallit”. Does it appear in the Scriptures? What does Yahweh expect of us today?
The Torah – A Modern Commentary, edited by W. Gunther Plaut –
Page 1123, regarding Numbers 15:37-41 – “The embellishment of garments with tassels and fringes appears to be older than the Bible and may be seen in pictorial representations of other peoples. [Finds from Mari show that fringes and locks of hair represented the whole person (note that in Ezek 8:3 tzitzit means ‘lock of hair’). They were required as verifications from laymen who had experienced visions and wanted to transmit them as prophetic reports. Fringes and locks of hair were also used in legal contexts as occasional substitutes for seals in signing clay documents.]”
“The Kitzur Schulchan Aruch, which lists the essentials of the Halachah, says: ‘The precept relating to fringes is great because Scriptures weighed it and ascribed it to all the commandments, as it is said: ‘Look upon it and recall all the commandments of the Lord’ (verse 39). Therefore every Jew must be careful to wear a talit katan all day. This must be made of white lamb’s wool, about three-fourths of a cubit in length and half a cubit in width; others hold that it must be a cubit square. Every man should also be careful to have a big talit with fringes, to wrap himself in while praying, and he should be particular to possess a handsome talit. Every religious act must be done in the handsomest way, as it is written: ‘This is my God, and I will glorify Him,’ and it is explained to mean: Become proud before Him when performing His commandments’.”
Page 1125 – “Gematria – The Jews’ search for a logical correlation between the talit and the commandments of God was rewarded with intriguing discoveries. The numerical value of the word tzitzit is 600. Each of the fringes contains 8 threads and 5 knots, making a total of 613. This number corresponds to the 613 commandments contained in the Torah. It was also noted that in making the fringes one winds the long thread around the other threads between the 5 knots 7, 8, 11, and 13 times respectively. The first 3 numbers equal 26, which is the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton. The remaining number 13 equals the numerical value of the word ‘one’ (echad) – the last word in the opening verse of the Shema. The fringes of the talit thus, not only remind the Jew of the 613 divine commandments, but also underscore the central doctrine of Judaism, that the Lord is one. (A. Milgram)”
Page 1486 – “The normal garment was square or oblong and had four corners. When in time different (tailored) clothes were adopted, the law was believed not to apply to them, and in order to fulfill the commandment, a special four cornered cloth with tassels (called talit) was donned during prayer. There are also observant Jews who at all times wear a “four-corners” garment (called arba kanfot), a square cloth with tassels and with a hole in the middle which is slipped over the head and is regularly worn as part of one’s clothing (usually as an undergarment). Certain groups of Orthodox Jews make sure that the fringes are seen at all times.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor, volume 2,
Page 1146 – “Fringes – Tassels worn by the Israelites on the four corners of their garments as reminders of ‘all the commandments of Jehovah,’ in accordance with the law set out in Nu 15:37-41 and Dt 22:12. These tassels originally contained a thread of tekheleth, ‘violet.’ Jewish tradition, however, has failed to retain the tekheleth, because of doubt as to the exact meaning of the term, and instead dark blue lines were dyed on the borders of the tallith or garments in which the fringes were placed. According to tradition any garment having four corners required the mnemonic fringes, the importance of which was weighed against ‘all the commandments of the Lord.’ In New Testament times such garments were still worn (cf Mt 9:20; 14:36; 23:5). The later Jews, after adopting the garments of the Diaspora, in order to observe the cicith commandment began to use two extra four-cornered fringed garments: the large tallith while at prayer, and the small tallith, or arba kanphoth, as an undergarment during the day. Their tradition prescribes the exact manner in which each tassel shall be made, and gives a symbolic meaning to the number of windings and knots, somewhat after the manner of the string-writing of several early civilizations. Thus in the cicith a long cord is wrapped around seven shorter cords first seven times, then eight, then eleven, and finally thirteen, each series being separated from the others by two knots. The numbers seven and eight constituting fifteen together suggest YH, and the number eleven, WH. Together they make up the holy name YaHWeH. The number thirteen stands for ehadh, the letters of which taken as numerals equal thirteen. The sentence Yahweh ehadh means ‘Yahweh is one’.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, volume 1,
Page 497 – “They are ordered to make fringes upon the borders of their garments, which were to be memorandums to them of their duty, that they might not sin through forgetfulness. 1. The sign appointed is a fringe of silk, or thread, or worsted, or the garment itself raveled at the bottom, and a blue ribband bound on top of it to keep it tight. 2. The intention of it was to remind them that they were a peculiar people. They were not appointed for the trimming and adorning of their clothes, but to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance (2 Peter 3:1), that they might look upon the fringe and remember the commandments. Many look upon their ornaments to feed their pride, but they must look upon these ornaments to awaken their consciences to a sense of their duty, that their religion might constantly beset them, and that they might carry it about with them, as they did their clothes, wherever they went. If they were tempted to sin, the fringe would be a monitor to them not to break God’s commandments.”
Manners and Customs in the Bible, Victor H. Matthews –
Pages 117-119 – “Although the general style of dress for the people of Israel did not change markedly during the monarchy period, there were some shifts in costume, jewelry, and other personal items – especially among the well-to-do.”
“Designed to be draped loosely around the body, garments regulated body heat and allowed for ease of movement. They were most commonly made of wool, although linen was also used.”
“The basic dress for both men and women was the kethoneth, a shirtlike garment which is depicted in ancient art in a variety of styles. Usually made of wool, it could reach as far as the ankles or just to the knees; it might have either long or short sleeves. This garment is mentioned in the ‘Black Obelisk’ inscription of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (842 BC). In a series of sculpted, captioned registers, Jehu, king of Israel, is depicted bowing before the king; his servants are shown carrying gifts as tribute payments.”
“Jehu is wearing a fringed kethoneth tied with a girdle which also has tassels hanging from it…. The porters have a slightly different costume. They also are wearing a kethoneth, but it is covered by a fringed simlah, or mantle, which is draped over their left shoulders.”
“The rather elaborate hems with suspended tassels found on most garments in the ancient Near East symbolized the rank of kings and their advisers as well as the military…. Hems and tassels, parts of which were dyed blue with an extract taken from the hypobranchial gland of the murex snail, were also worn as a sign of wealth among the nobility and merchant class (Ezk 23:6). Even the poor, however, were expected to have at least four blue threads in their tassels as a sign of devotion (Num 15:37-41).”
Page 233-234 – “By the time of Jesus there was no stigma attached to wearing the colobium, a long seamless tunic (Jn 19:23), with a cloak (pallium, Mt 27:31), and tassels (tsitsith) on the four corners of the hem (Mt 9:20; Mk 6:56).”
Page 235 – “Throughout the biblical period, men wore the kethoneth, a knee-length, wool tunic with half-sleeves. This was held at the waist with a belt. An over-robe or mantle (simlah) was also worn as protection against the sun and during storms.”
Biblical Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin –
On page 513 the author says that the Bible does not give a number of the laws. It is recorded in the Talmud. The scholars he refers to – Moses Maimonides and Rabbi Aaron haLevi – did not do their counting and research until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries respectively.
Page 480 – “ ‘Numbers 15:39, which almost always is rendered in a sanitized translation, literally reads: ‘…Look at it (the fringe) and recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes after which you go whoring’ (in Hebrew, zonim acha-rei-hem)’.”
Page 481 – “If the goal of tzitzit is to remind all Jews to observe God’s laws, then why is the commandment restricted to males? Indeed, the Torah does not mandate such a restriction (it speaks of it as obligatory for the ‘Israelite people’). However, by the time of the Talmud, the Rabbis ruled that tzitzit are not obligatory for women. Perhaps the rationale was that women were more homebound than men, and thus less likely to come into contact with the sort of temptations that tzitzit were intended to guard against (in addition, the wearing of tzitzit was only mandated during the day, when they could be seen, and women were generally exempt from fulfilling such time-bound commandments (Babylonian Talmud, Menachot 43a).”
Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, J I Packer and M C Tenney, editors –
Page 480 – “The Hebrew men wore an ‘outer garment’ consisting of a square or oblong strip of cloth, 2 to 3 m. (80 to 120 in.) wide. This garment (me’yil) was called the coat, robe, or mantle. It was wrapped around the body as a protective covering, with two corners of the material being in front. The outer garment was drawn in close to the body by a girdle. Sometimes the Israelites decorated the girdle of this outer garment with rich and beautiful ornaments of metal, precious stones, or embroidery. The poor man used this outer garment as his bed clothing (Exod. 22:26-27). The rich often had a finely woven outer garment, and the poor a coarsely woven garment of goat’s hair.”
“Jewish men wore fringes with blue ribbons on the ‘border’ (hemline) of this outer garment (Num 15:38). The fringes reminded them of the constant presence of the Lord’s commandments. Jesus referred to these fringes in Matthew 23:5; apparently, the scribes and Pharisees made these fringes very large so that people could see how faithful they were in doing the Lord’s commandments.”
Page 482 – “The Hebrew woman’s outer garment differed from that of the man. It was longer, with enough border and fringe to cover the feet (Isa. 47:2; Jer. 13:22).”
The First Jewish Catalog, Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld, Sharon Strassfeld –
Page 51 – “The tallit is the prayer shawl worn by married men in Orthodox synagogues, and by all males past the age of Bar Mitzvah in Conservative and Reform synagogues. It is a composite garment consisting of two main parts, the garment itself and the tzitzit – fringes on the corners which transform the garment from a piece of cloth to a tallit.”
“Women are not obligated to wear a tallit, nor are they prohibited from wearing one.”
Page 52 – “While the large tallit is used specifically for prayer, it is a mitzvah in itself to wear a garment with tzitzit all day. Traditionally Jews, therefore wear a tallit katan – small tallit – all day and a large tallit just for morning prayers.”
“The tallit is not worn at night because the mitzvah stipulates that one should see the tzitzit. (The implication is that this should be seen by light of day, not by artificial light.)”
“The tzitzit have to be at the corners; but there is a question as to where the corner is on a four-cornered piece of material. A general guide is that the hole be three or four fingerbreadths from the corner edges.”
Page 53 – “In Gematria, tzitzit = 600. In addition there are eight strands plus five knots. The total is 613 – which, according to tradition, is the exact number of commandments – mitzvot – in the Torah. Just to look at them, therefore, is to remember all the mitzvot.”
Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen,
Page 153 – “The purpose of the fringe is described in the verse, ‘That ye may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them’ (Num. Xv. 39), on which the Talmud remarks, ‘This ordinance is equal to all the precepts, because seeing leads to remembering and remembering to performing’ (Men. 43b). An instance is quoted in the context of a man who was saved from acting immorally by the reminder he received from the fringe on his garment (ibid. 44a). Hence it was taught: ‘Whoever is particular with this ordinance is worthy of receiving the presence of the Shechinah’ (ibid. 43b). ‘The text does not read “Ye may look upon them,” but “look upon Him,” thus declaring that whoever fulfills the law of the fringe is accounted as though he had received the presence of the Shechinah, since the colour of the blue thread resembled the colour of the sea which is like that of the firmament and in turn is like that of the Throne of Glory’ (Sifre Num 115; 34b). The meaning is that the understanding use of the fringe kept a person’s life pure, and so brought him into closer communication with God.”
“Here, too, we find a superstitious value attached to the religious rite as a protective force. The neglect of the wearing of the fringe, as well as the omission to fasten the Mezuzah to the doorpost, caused death among one’s children (Shab. 32b); and conversely, ‘Whoever scrupulously observed the law of the fringe was worthy that two thousand eight hundred servants should attend upon him; as it is written, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, In those days shall ten men of all the languages of the nations 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. Viii, 23’ (ibid.).”
Journey Through Judaism, Alan D Bennett, editor,
Pages 25-26 – “Just as the mezuzah is a reminder to walk in the right path, so tzitzit serve to ‘remember all the commandments of God and do them…’ (Numbers 15:39). How do the tzitzit serve as reminders of all the commandments? Here we have to revert to gematria. The numerical value of tzitzit is 600. But there are 613 commandments. The difference is made up by the eight threads and five knots. Originally one of the threads (fringes) was blue ‘because this color resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the throne of glory’ (Menachot 443b). But this was discontinued because the process of getting the proper shading of blue was lost and the rabbis forbade its use. So the blue was introduced as stripes in the talit, which later inspired the blue and white colors of the Jewish flag.
“The Bible requires that men wear fringes on four-cornered garments. When this type of garment went out of style, the wearing of tzitzit was endangered. So a special four-cornered garment was introduced to allow observance of this mitzvah. Worn under a shirt at all times, this garment is called a talit katan (a miniature talit) or arba kanfot (four-cornered garment), not to be confused with the talit.
“The large talit originated as a distinctive garb for the rabbi, much as an academic robe identifies a scholar. In time the lay leaders took a fancy to it and eventually the rest of the male population began to wear it at worship services. In Eastern Europe only married men wore it, enabling the women to know which men were eligible. Today Orthodox Jewish males over thirteen years of age wear the talit as a sign of adulthood. So important is the talit to Orthodox Jews that it is a gift generally bought by grandparents for the Bar Mitzvah and by in-laws from the groom. An Orthodox Jew is buried in a talit. Among Reform Jews the wearing of a talit is optional, though very few choose that option. But Reform rabbis often wear a talit-like garment called an atorah over their rabbinic robes.
“The talit certainly is a distinctive Jewish symbol. Why it captured the imagination of the Jew remains as mysterious as the adoption of tefilin as a unique Jewish symbol.”
To Be A Jew, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin –
Page 155 – “Garments not possessing four or more corners are not required to have special fringes.”
Page 156 – “Although in ancient times four-cornered garments or robes were common, the development of clothing not having four corners would have rendered this mitzvah totally obsolete, with the full sanction of the law. To prevent the total disappearance of a mitzvah that possessed such great symbolic significance (since it serves as a reminder to observe all the commandments), the Sages encouraged the wearing of specially-made four-cornered garments so as to provide the opportunity to observe and implement this commandment.”
“The tallit, a four-cornered robe with the required tzitzit, has thus become the garment traditionally worn by men during morning prayer services. In English, it is commonly called a ‘prayer shawl’.”
“It is the fringes (tzitzit) on the four corners of the tallit that provide it with its religious significance. The rest of its design, whether simple or elaborate, colorful or plain, rich in embroidered Jewish religious symbols or lacking them, is only incidental to its primary use for the observance of the mitzvah of ‘putting tzitzit on the corners of your garments so that you may look upon them and remember to do all the commandments of the Lord…’”
“The shorter fringes found along the two sides of many tallitot (plural) are not tzitzit, but only ornaments and have no particular significance.”
Page 159 – “The specific instructions as to how the tzitzit are tied to the tallit are not found in the Written Torah, but have been handed down by the Oral Torah. The Shulhan Arukh describes it in detail. There is much mystical as well as symbolic meanings attached to the procedure. For example, the 39 windings that go into the making of each of the four fringes equals the numerical value of the Hebrew words for ‘The Lord is One’.”
If you’re curious, check out the website. Or put the word “tzitzit” into the Internet search engine. You will be amazed at how many various ways there are of tying the tassels. Now, who is right? Who has the authority? How would you know for sure if Yahweh specified one of them or another? You don’t!
Oxford Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion, Louis Jacobs –
Page 258 – “Tallit – The robe with which the worshipper is wrapped during prayer and hence often referred to as a ‘prayer shawl,’ though this is not the traditional Jewish name for the garment, which was not originally associated particularly with prayer. In the book of Numbers (15:37-40), the Israelites are commanded to put tzitzit (‘fringes’) on their garments in order to remind them of God’s laws. But in the book of Deuteronomy (22:12) it is stated that these fringes have to be placed on the four corners of the garment, from which the Rabbis conclude that only four-cornered garments have to have tzitzit affixed to them. In Talmudic times people wore four-cornered garments and to these tzitzit were attached. In fact, the word tallit, of uncertain etymology, simply means a robe or a cloak (some connect the word with the Latin stola). The sole significance of the tallit was in the tzitzit. The tallit itself had no religious significance. The result was that in Europe in the Middle Ages, where people did not wear four-cornered garments, the precept of tzitzit was in danger of being forgotten. To prevent this the Jews took it upon themselves to wear a four-cornered garment to which they would be obliged to attach the tzitzit and thus restore a precept that was in danger of vanishing from Jewish life. This specific four-cornered garment was given the name tallit on the analogy of the four-cornered garment worn in ancient times. Strictly speaking, the precept of the tzitzit has to be carried out for the whole of the day but since Jews could hardly go about wearing such an unusual garment as the tallit all day, the wearing of the tallit was limited to the time of the morning prayers.”
Page 283 – “Tzitzit – The fringes the Israelites were commanded to put in the corners of their garments: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and bid them that they make throughout their generations fringes [tzitzit] in the corners of their garments’ (Numbers 15:38). The tzitzit are now placed in the special tallit worn during prayer. The insertion of the tzitzit in the tallit is as follows. Four threads, one longer than the other three, are inserted in a hole at the corner of the tallit and then doubled over to form threads of equal length and one longer one at the right-hand side. The threads of the two sides are tied in a double knot. The longer thread is then wound around the others seven times and a further double knot is made. The longer thread is then wound around eight times and another double knot is made. A third winding is then made eleven times and a double knot is made, and then there is a winding of thirteen and the last of the double knots is made. It is desirable that after the windings and the knots have been made, all eight threads are of equal length.”
“The symbolism of all this has been variously interpreted. Thus, on one view, the Hebrew word tzitzit has the numerical value of 600 (tzaddi = 90; yod = 10; tzaddi = 90; yod = 10; tav = 400; = 600 in total). When the eight threads and the five knots are added there is a total of 613, corresponding to the 613 precepts of the Torah. In another version, the eight threads correspond to the eight days that elapsed from the Israelites leaving Egypt until they sang the song of deliverance at the sea (Exodus 15). The five knots correspond to the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch). The numerical value of the Hebrew for ‘the Lord is One’ in the Shema is 39 and this is represented by the total of the windings (7+8+11++13=39). Since the tzitzit are on all four corners of the tallit they act as a reminder to Jews to acknowledge God and His Torah at every turn.”
“The tallit (also spelled tallis or talith) is a garment one can wear to create a sense of personal space during prayer - the name comes from two Hebrew words: TAL meaning tent and ITH meaning little. Thus, you have an etymology of LITTLE TENT. By wrapping yourself in it, or by covering your head with it, the intention and direction of your prayers can be enhanced. The tradition is that the tallit is worn only during the morning prayers, except for the Kol Nidre service during Yom Kippur. The garment can be made out of linen, wool, silk or synthetics, so long as the biblical prohibition against the wearing of clothing combining linen and wool is observed.”
“How to put on a Tallit”
“Open tallit and hold in both hands so you can see atarah (the collar band on which the blessing is often embroidered.
Recite the berachah
Kiss the end of atarah where the last word of the blessing is embroidered, and then and beginning where the first word is.
Wrap the tallit around your shoulders, holding it over your head for a moment of private meditation.
Adjust the tallit on your shoulders comfortably.”
“Kissing the Tzitzit”
“There are several times during the service when people kiss the Tzitzit symbolically. First is during the recitation of the third paragraph of the Shema (Numbers 15:37-41) which mentions the Tzitzit three times. As the worshiper reads the word “Tzitzit,” it is customary to kiss the Tzitzit, which were gathered together in one hand prior to reciting the Shema.”
“When the Torah is removed from the Ark and carried around the synagogue in a Hakafah (procession), those within reach touch the Torah mantle with Tzitzit (if they are wearing a tallit) or a siddur (prayerbook) if they are not. They then kiss the Tzitzit or siddur which touched the Torah scroll. This is an expression of love and affection for the great gift which Torah is to our people.”
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism, Rabbi Benjamin Blech,
Pages 302-304 – “Tzitzit turn simple clothing into a uniform with a special insignia, like soldiers in the army who know they owe allegiance to a higher authority.”
“The law in the Bible is pretty clear. The tzitzit are put on garments that have four corners. What do we do when our clothes aren’t made that way?”
“The simple answer might be then that we don’t have to wear fringes. But that would deprive us of a mitzvah and risk the chance that a biblical law might just disappear.”
“A tallit is the special prayer shawl worn at services. Actually, it’s simply a four-cornered garment put over our clothing that, because of its shape, can legally have tzitzit attached. It’s usually large enough for the person wearing it to wrap it around the body.”
“After death, there is a tradition to be buried wrapped in the tallit that one wore during one’s lifetime. It’s a way of demonstrating that we go to the other world dressed for our meeting with God in the same way we always encountered Him here on Earth.”
“The substitute for a tallit is a smaller item of clothing known, appropriately enough, as tallit katan – a little tallit. Usually worn by traditional Jews under their shirts, the tallit kattan also has four corners and fringes and is worn throughout the day.”
There are not a lot of verses in the Scriptures that pertain to this subject. So let’s check out each of them, one at a time.
EXODUS 22: 26-27 26–If you indeed take the clothing of your neighbor as a pledge, you shall return it to him by the going of the sun. 27–for that is his only covering, that is his covering for his skin. In what shall he lie down? And it shall be, when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
In ancient times, the people did not have separate day and night clothes. They simply lived in their clothes, wearing them to bed at night. The cloak that they wrapped around themselves during the day was the cover they spread over themselves at night. It was also used as collateral if they borrowed something, as a guarantee of their word. But Yahweh said they were to have it back at night for a covering. Apparently they did not have sheets, blankets or quilts.
In those days, clothes were more valuable than now. They had very few of them, for one thing. But think what went into that garment. The people – usually the women – had to take the wool or flax and clean it, spin it into thread, take the threads and weave the cloth before making the clothing. A lot of time-consuming labor went into each garment – something we in today’s society do not understand. Clothing was not something to be taken lightly at that time.
NUMBERS 15: 37-41 37–And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 38–Speak to the sons of Israel and you shall tell them that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments for their generations, and they shall put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. 39–And it shall be to you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Yahweh, and do them; and that you do not go about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you usually go astray. 40–that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your Elohim. 41–I am Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim; I am Yahweh your Elohim.
These fringes or tassels were to be a part of their garments – the ones they wore daily. Remember, they did not have a whole closet full of clothes to deal with then.
“Fringes” is Hebrew #6734 tzitzit and it means a floral or wing-like projection; i.e. a fore-lock of hair, a tassel; a fringe. (Strong’s Hebrew-Greek Dictionary)
What do you think of when someone talks about a fore-lock of hair or a fringe of hair? It certainly isn’t twisted and knotted, is it? It is usually a fore-lock – a small amount of hair – that stands up or hangs down or doesn’t do what the person usually wants it to do. A good description of a fringe of hair is a little girl’s or woman’s bangs. It is just a fringe around the top of the face – not all the hair. It is not knotted or twisted either. Bangs are usually straight, with sometimes a little curl to them.
The word “corners” is Hebrew #3671, kanaph, which means an edge or extremity; spec (of a bird or arm) a wing, (of a garment or bed-clothing) a flap, (of the earth) a quarter, (of a building) a pinnacle. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
DEUTERONOMY 22:12 You shall make tassels for yourself on the four corners of your cloak with which you cover.
“Tassels” is Hebrew #1434, gedil, and is defined in the sense of twisting; thread, i.e. a tassel or festoon; fringe, wreath. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
So does this definition include the twisting and knotting of the thread into the tassels? Think about it. How is thread made? By twisting! The fibers are twisted into thread by spinning.
The Hebrew word #3682, kesoot, translated “cloak” means a cover (garment); fig. a veiling; covering, raiment, vesture. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
MATTHEW 9:20 And, behold, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came near, behind Him, and touched the fringe of His robe.
MATTHEW 14:36 And they begged Him that they might touch the fringe of His robe. And as many as touched were made perfectly well.
In these two verses, the word “fringe” is the Greek #2899, kraspedon. It means a the extremity or prominent part of a thing, edge, skirt; margin, i.e. (spec) a fringe or tassel; border, hem. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
The word “robe” is not as clear as what we think of in English when we use that word. We usually think of something we wrap around ourselves before going to bed or before getting dressed each morning or after taking a shower. The Greek word #2440, himation, can be translated as any of the following: dress (inner or outer), apparel, cloke, clothes, garment, raiment, robe, vesture. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
Was this fringe referred to about ankle level? Did they have to bend over to reach it? Or was it higher? On the front or the back? Only on the corners or all along the edges (hems)?
MATTHEW 23:5 And they do all their works to be seen by men. And they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge the borders of their robes.
Yahshua was condemning their attitude of trying to appear more righteous than others. In their eyes, the bigger and longer the fringe and/or tassels, the more righteous they felt they were. It had to do with their outward appearance of righteousness, not their heart.
JOHN 19:23 Then when they crucified Yahshua, the soldiers took His garments and made four parts, a part to each soldier; also the robe. And the robe was seamless, woven from the top throughout.
Notice this says “garments” and “also” the robe. Which one had the fringe? Only one of them? Or all of them? What proof is there either way?
In looking at the Hebrew, it says to “make” a fringe, not to “add” a fringe. On today’s tallit it is added. It would not be if just left as it came off the loom.
The Hebrew also says to “put on the fringe” of the garment “a thread of blue”. It is put on (the Hebrew word al) the fringe, not made into a tassel and knotted and added to the corners only.
In research, there is one explanation for all this that seems most logical, and the simplest. The clothing was like that described earlier – a large rectangle of cloth with an opening in the middle to slip over the head. On each side of the body, the back sides would be pulled forward and the front sides pulled over them (or vice versa). Then it would be secured with a girdle (a long, narrow strip of fabric) around the waist. There would be a fringe on all four sides, made when the treads were cut loose from the loom. The blue thread was put around all four sides and would prevent the edges from raveling further. Thus there would be a four-cornered, fringed garment with a blue thread with very little added work on the part of the weaver/garment-maker.
- Where is the Scripture that defines the type of cloth to be used? Wool or silk?
- Where is the Scripture that defines the size of the tallit? Large enough to wrap in or small enough to go under a shirt or blouse?
- Scripture mentions a blue thread, but where is the Scripture that specifies four white threads? Why not more? Why not an equal number? Wouldn’t bigger tassels be better?
- Do the Scriptures refer to an inner or outer garment having the fringe? Or both?
- If they were to wear these to remind them to follow His laws, would it seem logical to give that particular garment to someone as a pledge? If it were, then the borrower would not have with him the reminder to observe the law.
- Note there are sources that say the Sages encouraged the design and wearing of the tallit. What Scripture tells us to follow the Sages?
- Numerous references say that the tallit was designed so that the tassels would continue after clothing styles changed. So then the tallit cannot be what the children of Israel were wearing! The design of the tallit comes from tradition – not Scripture. Are we to follow the traditions of men?
- What is gematria? Where did it originate and when?
- Where is the gematria part of the fringes in Scripture?
- If it is to remind a person of the law of Yahweh, why isn’t it worn all the time?
- Where did the concept of the 613 laws come from? Did Moses count them as Yahweh gave them? No, they weren’t counted and categorized until the 12th or 13th century – A.D.!
- For yourself, sometime check out the 613 that the Jews list. Are all of them “Yahweh says”? Or have some been stretched to get that number?
- Where in Scriptures are the wrapping and knots in the tassels? It isn’t there – it is from mysticism!
- Although we are told that the word “tallit” means “little tent”, that word itself does not appear in the Scriptures.
- Yahweh had a reason for these fringes. They were not simply to be an ornament as many look on them.
- A man who wore tassels on his belt loops said they made great conversation pieces. Again, is that the purpose Yahweh had in mind?
- These fringes and tassels were to remind the individual of Yahweh’s laws – not the rest of the world. So shouldn’t it be something more personal and private, not something to enlarge and show off to everyone?
- The command refers to “garment”, not a piece of fabric thrown around the shoulders for services or prayers.
- One of the quotes said men should have a “handsome” tallit and that he should “become proud before Him when performing His commandments.” But wait! Aren’t we to appear before Yahweh in humility?
- In the quote from Everyman’s Talmud, it translates a part of Numbers 15:39 as “ye may look on Him,” rather than the fringe. In Hebrew, everything is either male or female – there is no neuter gender. The word they translate as “Him” can also be translated as “it” – the fringe.
- Do Scriptures mention a collar or embroidery?
- What berachah (blessing)? Is it Scriptural or man-made in origin?
- Do Scriptures mention kissing the fringes or anything else?
- Does Scripture say anything about a procession with the Torah around the Synagogue?
- Does Scripture say that the Shema is to be recited a specific number of times a day? Or at all?
- In all the quotes from various writers, how much attention is given to “tradition”?
Looking at the way in which the tallit is approached, it has practically become an object of worship. It is kissed before being put on and a blessing is said. Did the ancient Israelites do that with their daily clothing? Probably not – it was simply clothing.
It seems obvious that the tallit is not what Yahweh was referring to in Numbers and Deuteronomy. Our clothing styles today are different and are not four-sided garments. So how do we apply these instructions today? Some make tassels and pin them at four different points of their garment of today. But that isn’t right either – according to Scripture, the garment itself was to be four-sided.
With baptism and the laying on of hands, we should have the presence of Yahweh’s Set-apart Spirit in our minds. He is to bring all things to our remembrance. This is something the ancient Israelites did not have. We are to have His laws in our hearts. We should be able to remember His laws without a physical, visible reminder to do so.
PHYLACTERIES / TEPHILLIN
(The Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, a literal translation by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator, with the transliterated Hebrew names of the Father and Son, Yahweh and Yahshua - added.)
In reading and studying, I understood what phylacteries or tephillin were and I had seen pictures or diagrams of them. But I never saw them in use until we were on an El Al flight to Israel in 1999. About sunrise, the religious Jewish men got up from their seats, put on these items and their tallits and went to certain areas of the plane to face towards Jerusalem and conduct their morning prayers. It was like watching a performance on stage to see all the things they went through, step by step.
Where do these objects come from? Does Yahweh require them? What are they?
The words “phylacteries” or “tephillin” do not appear in the Old Testament. Only once it appears in the New Testament. The word “phylacteries” is the Greek #5440, phulakterion, meaning a guard-case, i.e. ‘phylactery’ for wearing slips of Scriptural texts. (Strong’s Hebrew –Greek Dictionary)
These four sets of Scriptures are the ones that the Jews use to back up their use of tephillin. A tiny scroll of each of these is what will be found within the boxes on the tephillin.
EXODUS 13:1-16 1-And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, 2-Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3-And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place: there shall no leaven be eaten. 4-This day you came out in the month of the aviv. 5-And it shall be when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore unto your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. 6-Seven days you shall eat unleavens, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to you. 7-Unleavens shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leaven be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you in all your quarters. 8-And you shall show your son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which Yahweh did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9-And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh’s law may be in your mouth: for with a strong hand has Yahweh brought you out of Egypt. 10-You shall therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. 11-And it shall be when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore unto you and to your fathers, and shall give it you, 12-That you shall set apart unto Yahweh all that opens the matrix, and every firstling that comes of a beast which you have; the males shall be Yahweh’s. 13-And every firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among your children shall you redeem. 14-And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What is this? that you shall say unto him, By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15-and it came to pass when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that Yahweh slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all that opens the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16-And it shall be for a token upon your hand, and for frontlets between your eyes: for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us forth out of Egypt.
DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9 4-Hear, O Israel, Yahweh your Elohim, Yahweh is one; 5-And you shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6-And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart; 7-and you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8-and you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9-And you shall write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates.
DEUTERONOMY 11:13-21 13-And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto my commands which I command you this day, to love Yahweh your Elohim, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14-that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, and the first rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your wine, and your oil. 15-And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be full. 16-Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them: 17-and then Yahweh’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruits and lest you perish quickly from off the good land which Yahweh gives you. 18-Therefore you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19-And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20-And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates: 21-That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children in the land which Yahweh swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
That’s it, for instructions from the Torah. Now let’s look to see how those Scriptures were used and interpreted and what they did to try to follow what they believed to be right.
Journey Through Judaism, Alan D Bennett, editor,
Page 126 – “Archeologists discovered tefilin in the Bar Kochba caves, which makes their use at least two thousand years old. Orthodox and Conservative males are required to put on tefilin (leather boxes with straps for head and arm containing parchment scrolls of selected biblical passages) once they reach the age of thirteen years and one day. Though the requirement of wearing tefilin is ascribed to four biblical passages, this mitzvah is derived from the commandment ‘and you shall tie them for a sign upon your hand and they shall be for frontlets [or memorials] between your eyes’ (Deuteronomy 6:8). However, whether this really means tefilin as we know it today is a matter of dispute.”
The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Dr J H Hertz, C H, editor,
Page 261 – “The reminders on arm and forehead are called tephillin, a late Hebrew plural of tephillah, prayer. Four sections from the Torah (Ex. XIII, 1-10, 11-16; Deut. VI, 4-9 and XI, 13-21) are in the tephillin; and ‘these four sections have been chosen in preference to all the other passages of the Torah, because they enhance the acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven, the unity of the Creator, and the exodus from Egypt – fundamental doctrines of Judaism’. (Sefer ha-Chenuch.) The purpose of the tephillin is given in the Meditation recited before putting on the tephillin (Authorised Prayer Book, p. 15): - ‘Within these Tephillin are placed four sections of the Law, that declare the absolute unity of God, and that remind us of the miracles and wonders which He wrought for us when He brought us forth from Egypt, even He who hath power over the highest and lowest to deal with them according to His will. He hath commanded us to lay the Tephillin on the hand as a memorial of His outstretched arm; opposite the heart, to indicate the duty of subjecting the longings and designs of our heart to His service, blessed be He; and upon the head over against the brain, thereby teaching that the mind, whose seat is in the brain, together with all senses and faculties, is to be subjected to His service, blessed be He’.”
“The tephillin are not worn at night, nor on Sabbaths or Festivals, as these are themselves called ‘a sign’ of the great truths symbolized by the tephillin. The commandment of tephillin applies to all male persons from their thirteenth birthday, when they attain their religious majority (Barmitzvah). On the Sabbath following that birthday, the Barmitzvah is called to the Law, publicly to acknowledge God as the Giver of the Torah.”
The Torah: A Modern Commentary, W Gunther Plaut, editor,
Page 472 – “Tefillin is the postbiblical Hebrew term for two small boxes containing Torah passages written on pieces of parchment, with leather bands attached to the boxes in such a way that one may be worn on the forehead, between the eyes, and the other tied to the arm. Tefillin (from tefillah, prayer) is the name of a small tractate in the Talmud that assembles the relevant prescriptions of tradition.
“The Torah demands four times that words of the law be put as signs on the hand and as frontlets (or symbols) between the eyes (or on the forehead). Just what the Torah itself had in mind when these admonitions were set down can no longer be ascertained. They may have implied a demonstrative display similar to that of the mezuzah (with which they are linked in Deut. 6:8-9) or they have been meant figuratively, as was maintained as late as in the Middle Ages by the Rashbam (Rabbi Samuel ben Meir, in his commentary on the Torah.). These commandments, he writes, ‘shall be for you a reminder as if they were written on your hand. They are to be taken [fig] just as in ‘Set me as a seal upon your heart’ (Song of Solomon 8:6). At any rate, the custom of writing down some representative laws which could then be worn goes back to ancient days and may be connected with ideas that the wearing would have some prophylactic effect similar to that of amulets, or perhaps would show the wearer’s membership in a sacred community. The Rabbis still had a tradition, however, that made it clear that some regulations pertaining to the tefillin were a post-Torah development, and they held that such rules went back only to the soferim (scribes), that is, to the early teachers of the Oral Law, but no farther.”
“…traditional Judaism has stressed the great spiritual importance of carrying out the commandments. Says Maimonides: ‘The sanctity of tefillin is very great. So long as the tefillin are on the head and arm of a man, he is modest and God-fearing … and will devote his thoughts to truth and righteousness’.”
Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, J I Packer and M C Tenney, editors,
Page 482 – “To counter the idolatrous practice of wearing amulets, Hebrew men began wearing phylacteries. There were two kinds of phylacteries: one worn on the forehead between the eyebrows, and one worn on the left arm. The one worn on the forehead was called a frontlet. It had four compartments, each of which contained a piece of parchment. On the first was written Exodus 13:1-10, on the second was written Exodus 13:11-16, on the third was written Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and on the fourth, Deuteronomy 11:13-21. These four pieces of paper were wrapped in animal skin, making a square package. This small bundle was then tied to the forehead with a thong or ribbon.”
“The phylactery worn on a man’s arm was made of two rolls of parchment, on which the laws were written in special ink. The parchment was partially rolled up, enclosed in a case of black calfskin, and tied with a thong to the upper left arm near the elbow. The thong was then wound crisscross around the arm, ending at the top of the middle finger.”
Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Robert Jamieson, A R Fausset and David Brown,
Page 638, regarding Exodus 13:9 – “and … frontlets between their eyes – for bands or fillets, particularly strips of parchment, containing sentences from the Mosaic law, which the Israelites wound round the forehead. Perhaps Moses meant the metaphorical language in the eighth verse to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor, volume 4,
Page 2393 – “It may be rendered then as a mark or ornament or jewel, and used figuratively of Jehovah’s Law as an ornament or jewel to the forehead of the Israelite, a reference to the charm or amulet worn by the pagan. The word used in the Talmud for the phylactery is tephillah, ‘prayer,’ or ‘prayer-band’, indicating its use theoretically as a reminder of the Law, although practically it might be esteemed as an automatic and ever-present charm against evil: an aid within toward the keeping of the Law, a guard without against the approach of evil; a degradation of an Old Testament figurative and idealistic phrase to the materialistic and superstitious practices of the pagans.”
“It is evident that the words in Exodus are beyond all question used figuratively; a careful reading of the verses in Deuteronomy in close relation to their contexts, in which are other figures of speech not to be taken literally, is sufficient proof of their purely figurative intention also. Only the formalism of later ages could distort these figures into the gross and materialistic practices of the phylactery. Just when this practice began cannot accurately be determined. While the Talmud attempts to trace it back to the primitive, even Mosaic, times, it probably did not long ante-date the birth of Christ.”
“In the New Testament passage (Mt 23:5) Our Lord rebukes the Pharisees, who make more pronounced the un-Scriptural formalism and the crude literalism of the phylacteries by making them obtrusively large, as they also seek notoriety for their religiosity by the enlarged fringes, or ‘borders’.”
Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen,
Page 153 – “Their purpose was to make the precepts of the Torah a controlling and guiding force in life, so that the ideals of Judaism should mould the thoughts and direct the actions of man.”
To Be A Jew, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin,
Page 151 – “If a person has no tefillin and enters a synagogue to join the congregation in prayer, it is preferable that he wait until after the services and borrow a pair of tefillin from another worshipper so that he may at least read the Shema and the Amidah while wearing tefillin, rather than pray with the congregation without tefillin.”
“The tefillin is part of the religious uniform worn by adult males during the weekday morning service. To engage in morning weekday prayers without them is a mark of disrespect. It is to approach the Lord, as a soldier in the army of God, improperly attired… To deliberately refuse to put on tefillin while reciting the Shema; where the commandment to put on tefillin appears twice, is looked upon as an act of arrogant contempt before the Lord. The Sages said: ‘Whoever recites the Shema without tefillin, it is as if he bears false witness against himself,’ i.e., accuses himself of falsehood (Brakhot 14b).”
“When the tefillin are put on, a male Jew testifies to his identification with the Jewish past, its present, and its future. Whether one prays in the synagogue or in the privacy of one’s own home, tefillin is a required daily weekday observance.”
“…in reality the Karaites and Sadducees never wore Tefillin at all, let alone between their eyes because this is simply not what the verse is talking about. One Rabbinite polemicist asked, ’How can you Karaites know how to make Tefillin without all the specifications laid down in the “Oral Law”?’. The answer is we can not because the “Oral Torah” made the whole thing up.”
“The brilliant Rabbanite commentator Rashbam (Rashi’s grandson) was wise enough to realize the true meaning of this expression. Commenting on the verse ‘And it shall be for a sign upon your hand and a remembrance (Zicharon) between your eyes’ he writes:
“ ‘For a sign upon your hand’ According to its plain meaning (Omek Peshuto), ‘It shall be remembered always AS IF it had been written upon your hand’ SIMILAR TO ‘he put me as a seal upon your heart’ (Cant 8,6). ‘Between your eyes’, LIKE a piece of jewelry or gold chain which people put on the forehead for decoration’ (Rashbam on Ex 13,9).”
“Rashi’s grandson rightfully interprets the ‘Tefillin passage’ as a metaphor which demands that we remember the Torah always and treasure it like a piece of fine jewelry. Rashbam and the Karaites realize that not everything in the Torah is to be taken literally as a command. The classic example of this is ‘And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart’ (Dt 10,16). Obviously God is not commanding mass suicide but is rather commanding us to figuratively circumcise the foreskin of our hearts, i.e. remove our impurity and stubbornness and commit to his covenant with our hearts.”
http://www.karaites.org.uk/phylacteries.shtml, Phylacteries, “A SignUpon Your Hand and as Frontlets Between Your Eyes”, by Hakham Meir Yosef Rekhavi –
“While rabbinic commentators on the Bible take the verses in Exodus and Deuteronomy as literally commanding the wearing of the phylacteries (see, however, Shemuel ben Meir [Rashbam] on Exod. 13:19), the rabbis of the Talmud were aware that the Bible gives absolutely no description of phylacteries or the laws concerning them. These laws were understood by the rabbis as an example of a biblical precept whose details are elaborated only in the oral law (m. Sanh. 11:3), and all the details of their construction are attributed to those oral laws which God purportedly taught Moshe at Sinai (b. Menah. 34b-37a). Given the tenuous relationship between the laws of phylacteries described in the Talmud and the alleged scriptural basis for them, it is far from apparent at exactly what point in the history of Pharisaic Judaism phylacteries were introduced.”
“At what date did the Pharisees begin to wear phylacteries and to interpret the passages from Scripture literally? The LXX translates the word totafoth as asaleuton, "that which is fixed, immovable". This implies that in Egypt in the middle of the 3rd century BCE the institution of phylacteries was not yet known. Rather, the four scriptural passages were interpreted as meaning that the laws and rituals of Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 and 11 should remain the unchanging subjects of one's thoughts, as also understood by Karaites, Samaritans and Falashas. The earliest explicit reference to phylacteries in a literary work is the Letter of Aristeas, sec. 159, where only the phylactery of the hand is mentioned. Scholars differ as to the dating of this text. Most place it in the 2nd century BCE, though some claim that parts of it, including secs. 128-71, date from the 1st century CE. It must also be noted that all names referring to parts of the phylacteries casings are in Aramaic, e.g titora, which is the square base of thick leather, another example is ma'abarta, which is the hollow projection at the back of the phylactery through which the strap is passed. Taking into account these Aramaic linguistic details one can come to the conclusion that the Pharisaic custom of tefillin, which itself is an Aramaic word, was introduced when Aramaic had replaced Hebrew as the day to day spoken language of the Jews in Israel. As already mentioned the Samaritans do not accept the precept of tefillin, this suggests that prior to the Jewish-Samaritan schism the literal interpretation of the verses in question was not accepted. Bearing all of the above facts in mind, it therefore seems prudent to attribute the introduction of phylacteries to the period between the 2nd century BCE and 1st century CE.”
“The custom of wearing phylacteries was not as widespread in the first two centuries of the Common Era, as the Rabbis would have us believe. For the wearing of phylacteries was seen as one of the criteria distinguishing a haver (member of the rabbinic "society") from an 'am haares (one not observing rabbinic customs). According to Josephus, himself a Pharisee, there were only about 6,000 of them in Israel during the late Second Temple period (Ant. 7:2:4), out of a possible Jewish population in Israel of some 2,000,000. Thus the 'am haares formed the overwhelming majority of the population, and the wearing of phylacteries was limited to a small group.”
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Maria Leach, Editor,
page 50 – “Amulet A material object, usually portable and durable, worn or carried on the person, placed in a house, on or among one’s possessions, to protect the owner from dangers such as death, shipwreck, lightning, attacks by thieves or animals, evil spirits, witchcraft, or the evil eye; to aid him in acquiring luck, wealth, physical strength, magical powers; to bring success in hunting, trading, battle, or love.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, M. A., D.D., General Editor, Volume 1,
Pages 127-128, article “Amulet” –“The phylacteries and the mezuzah. – There is no distinct reference to these in the OT. The Heb technical term for the former (tephillin) does not occur in Bib. Heb, and although the Heb word mezuzah does occur over a dozen times its sense is invariably ‘door-[or ‘gate-‘] post’ and not the amulet put on the door-post which in later Heb the word denotes.”
“It is quite certain that the practice of wearing phylacteries has no Bib. Support, for a correct exegesis and a proper understanding of the context put it beyond dispute that the words in Ex 13 9.16; Dt 6 8f; 11 18-20 have reference to the exhortations in the foregoing verses: ‘Thou shalt bind them [the commands previously mentioned] for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates’ (Dt 6 8f). The only possible sense of these words is that they were to hold the precepts referred to before their minds constantly as if they were inscribed on their arms, held in front of their eyes, and written on the door-or gate-posts which they daily passed. That the language in Ex 13 9.16 does not command the use of phylacteries is obvious; and that the same is true of Prov 3 3; 6 21; 7 3 where similar words are used is still more certain. Yet, though none of the passages enjoin the use of phylacteries or of the mezuzah, they may all contain allusions to both practices as if the sense were, ‘Thou shalt keep constantly before thee my words and look to them for safety and not to the phylacteries worn on head and arm by the heathen.’ If, however, phylacteries were in use among the Jews thus early, it is strange that there is not in the OT a single instance in which the practice of wearing phylacteries is mentioned.”
“It is quite evident that phylacteries have a magical origin. This is suggested by the Gr name phulakterion (whence the Eng. Name) which in the 1st cent. of our era denoted a counter charm or defence (phulasso, ‘to protect’) against evil influences. No scholar now explains the Gr word as denoting a means of leading people to keep (phulasso) the law. The Heb name tephillin (=’prayers’) meets us first in post-Bib. Heb, and carries with it the later view that phylacteries are used during prayer in harmony with the prayers or other formulae over the amulet to make it more effective (see Budge, Egyptian Magic, 27).”
Okay. So what is your conclusion? Do you reach the same concept of Yahweh’s words being fulfilled in these objects?
Points to think about ---
- There is no description of the tephillin in the Torah – no mention of leather, boxes, small scrolls or straps.
- There is no mention in the Torah of the ways or times these should be worn, if at all.
- These did not come into use until around 250 B.C. or later – that is from history.
- These are to be worn only when reciting the prayers. But aren’t we to remember these words all the time?
- If the command truly meant these leather straps and boxes, why aren’t there any instructions in Torah on their design and construction?
- If these are items Yahweh commanded, why do the words phylacteries or tefillin not appear in the Scriptures?
- Are these really any different than a charm or amulet worn by the pagans?
- The “importance” of tefillin is completely ignored by all the prophets and all the New Testament writers. Why?
These tephillin are worn only during the prayers, when reciting things like the Shema or the Amidah. The words of the Shema are in the Scripture, but there is no instruction there for them to be recited repeatedly, several times a day. The Amidah is nowhere in Scripture. It is a prayer written by a man, like most of Judaism’s prayers and blessings. They are learned by rote and repeated endlessly. Often the people do not even understand the Hebrew words they are saying. And what does Scripture say about that?
Matthew 6:6-7 – 6–But you, when you pray, enter into your room, and shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father seeing in secret will repay you in the open. 7–But when you pray, do not babble vain words, as the nations, for they think that they shall be heard in their much speaking.
The Scriptures mention several times that Yahshua prayed – but there is no mention of Him donning the tefillin or repeating man-written prayers.
Matthew 23:5 – And they do all their works to be seen by men. And they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge the borders of their robes.
Maybe Yahshua did not say they were wrong in wearing these, but neither did He mention anywhere that all needed to be using them. He was condemning the attitude of the Pharisees. They were making these phylacteries and their fringes bigger and better – to look more religious.
Sometimes it seems that the wearers of these objects worship the idea of appearing religious in front of others with their tephillin, kippah, tallit and beard. Do their attention and thoughts really focus on Yahweh or on all these objects and the right wording of the memorized prayers and blessings? When you take the time to pray, is Yahweh checking to see if you are wearing these things and that you have your prayerbook handy? Or is this what He is looking for?
Psalms 34:18 – Yahweh is near those who are broken hearted, and saves those who have a contrite spirit.
Psalms 51:17 – The sacrifices of Elohim are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O Elohim, You will not despise.
Isaiah 66:2 – …But I will look toward this one, to the afflicted, and the contrite of spirit, even trembling at My word.
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