Should Believers today wear tzitziyot? If you are unfamiliar with the term, tzitzit (or tzitziyot, the plural form) are tassels or fringes. They are most commonly seen on Orthodox Jews. They are the long strings that hang off the corners of the tallit, or prayer shawl worn in synagogues. There is much debate amongst Jewish and Messianic scholars between how they should be worn, how they should be designed, where they should be worn and so forth. Many teach that since we live in the “new covenant era” that tzitzit, which are memory devices, are not necessary. They say that we have the commandments on our hearts, so we do not need physical reminders. I find this foolish, as Scripture NEVER says anything like that. Do Believers now not need to be reminded to keep the commandments? If Israel HEARD the voice of YHWH speaking some of the commandments, they SAW the pillar of fire and yet they still needed a reminder, then what makes us think we don’t need one too?
But tradition aside, let’s let Scripture give us our answer. First, the command itself. It comes from Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22.
Numbers 15:37-41 37 YHWH also spoke to Moses, saying, 38 ″Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. 39 It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of YHWH, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be set-apart (holy) to your Elohim. 41 I am YHWH your Elohim who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your Elohim; I am YHWH your Elohim.”
Deuteronomy 22:12 “12You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.”
The Hebrew word used for tassel in Numbers 15 is Strong’s #H6734 “tsi-tsit” (tzitzit) meaning tassel, fringe, or lock. The word used in Deuteronomy 22 is Strong’s #H1434 “ghed-il” meaning tassel or twisted thread.
The commandment was issued in Numbers 15 and was reiterated when Moses was writing Deuteronomy 22. Seems like a simple, straightforward commandment. And yet many Believers get hung up on this one. There is a varying belief regarding the donning of the fringes. But we see the command given clearly to the children of Israel. And notice also the language used when it was commanded. “YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and…’” The same way the commandment for the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-13), for offerings (Leviticus 1:1-2), for statutes regarding suspected adultery (Numbers 5:11-31) and many others are written. Do we argue we aren’t to keep the Sabbath? No. So why is it we get hung up on this one? Perhaps the best way to think of ANY commandment in the Torah is not, “how much do I have to do,” but rather, “how much CAN I do?” Remember that we are to imitate Yeshua and walk as He Himself walked (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:14, 1 John 2:6). We know Yeshua kept all of the Torah (for if He had broken any commandment, He would not have been sinless [1 John 3:4]).
Did Yeshua wear tzitzit? Consider:
Matthew 9:20-22 20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” 22But Yeshua turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
Mark 6:56 56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.
Matthew 14:36 36 And they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.
43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 And Yeshua said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” 47 When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
In all of these instances we see people grasping at the “fringe” of Yeshua’s garment. Why? What was special about the fringe, and what does “fringe” even mean in Greek? The Greek word used in all four places is the same word. Strong’s #G2899 “kraspedon” meaning fringe, edge, corner, or tassel. It is the same word used in Matthew 23:5 when Yeshua is talking about the Pharisees. He says not to follow after the works (actions) of the Pharisees because they do things just for attention, just to be noticed.
Matthew 23:5 “5 But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels [of their garments].”
Here it is plainly understood, and accepted by nearly all scholars, that the usage of “kraspedon” as “tassel” indicates the tzitziyot referenced in Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22. Interestingly enough, the very same Greek word, “kraspedon,” is used in the Septuagint (Greek Tanakh translated by many Jewish scholars, completed in ca. 132 BCE) in both Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22 for “tassel.”
But is there even more evidence of Yeshua wearing tzitziyot? Consider the gospel accounts again. People sought Yeshua, knowing that if they could simply “touch the fringe of His garment, they would be healed.” Why did this become a “thing?” Who was the person who came up with the idea of touching fringes to be healed? Note the following prophecy.
Malachi 4:2 “2″But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”
Now, first a disclaimer. I do not believe the entirety of this Scripture has been fulfilled yet (see the rest of Malachi 4 to understand why). However, does any True Believer doubt that Yeshua is the “sun of righteousness” that rises “with healing in his wings?” Now what’s most interesting here is the Hebrew word translated as “wing” in Malachi 4:2. It is Strong’s #H3671 “kanaph” meaning wings. But it is also used in Number 15:38 and Deuteronomy 22:12.
Didn’t see the word “wings” in either of those verses? Because it wasn’t translated as “wings” but rather as “corners.” Yes, the word used for wings is the same used for the corners on which the tzitziyot were placed. So, Yeshua’s tzitziyot were on the “wings” of His garment. Jews would have known of Malachi’s prophecy, so I submit that is exactly why they reached for the “wings” of His garment. And it ACTUALLY WORKED! The “wings” of the “sun of righteousness” brought healing! How complex and yet incredible is that?
So, to tie it all together: Yeshua wore tzitziyot, and we are to walk as He Himself walked. If we love Him, we keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Please also check out part 2 of More Tassel, Less Hassle.
Be Berean. Shalom.