jewish history

i love jewish history. i almost wish i would have grown up jewish.
i think that knowing jewish history and culture are important when reading and understanding scripture (for obvious reasons)! i’ve heard several sermons lately, that involved alot of Jewish culture and history explanation that made the text pop out with intensity
For instance:
i love the story of the woman with the bleeding disorder in luke 8. Scripture tells us that there was a crowd around jesus as he was going to a rulers house to raise his daughter from the dead. My version says the crowd was so tight, they almost crushed Jesus. He was all the rage!! (see oakleaf messages for more on the fame of Christ and our responsibility to it)
Anyway, this woman came up behind Christ and touched the edge of His cloak. Christ instantly turns around and says “who touched me?”
One of the disciples looks around and says “master, the crowd is pressed around you.”
Just then, a woman steps forward and says that it was her that touched Him.
One might say, “what is so significant about this woman who touched Him?” Her faith!!!!!!!
These other’s around her were there for the mystery, the amazement of the one who does miracles… even the disciples didnt completely get it yet.
But this woman remembered what she had studied some time after the age of six (on her way to memorizing the torah!!!!) about the messiah, his garment and the “Healing in it’s wings,” and it drove her sick body to the middle of this crowd where a man claimed to be the messiah only to touch the hem of his garment.
What i love about the scriptures are that they are loaded. You can look at this scripture and say, “this woman believed.” Its truth, she believed. But it goes deeper than that. In Jewish culture, they wear a thing called a prayer shawl. the prayer shawl has tassels on the ends of it called tzitzi (seet-see), translated in our language as “fringes”. The tzitzi are to remind jews the importance of the torah– the first five books of the bible.
In that day, there was a legend passed (i say legend, in that day, there was no printing press, so the stories of the bible were sacred oral recitings, unless you went to the synagogue on the holy day to hear from the rabbi, who would be reading from the scroll… typically the only one that the community could afford.
anyway, in malachi, chapter 4, the wings were associated with the tzitzi, or the fringes.
So this woman, knew the story and the prophecy of the coming messiah and the “healing in its wings.” She believed that Christ was who he said he was and that she would be healed if she could only touch the hem of His garment.
And she was healed.
anyway, that’s just a small example of why i love digging into scripture and knowing the culture and history behind what the text says.