About Tzitzit

About Tzitzit v3.0
by servant@nazareneisrael.org

Bemidbar (Numbers) 15:37-38
37 Again YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying,
38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners…."

 

Sukkot Shalom.

Please find below and attached my latest article about tzitzit. The formatting may be superior in the attachment.

If YHWH wills, we will also give a class about how to tie the ‘Ephraimite Tzitzit’ at our Sukkot celebration at Lake Siskiyou. If YHWH wills I will try to film it and get it published as we go along.

May YHWH greatly bless your Sukkot.

In Yeshua’s name,

Amein.

* * *

About Tassels (Tzitzit) v3.0

 

Scripture tells us to make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which we cover ourselves, so that we might look upon them, and remember to do all of His commandments.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 15:37-40
37 Again YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying,
38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 And it shall be unto you for a tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of YHWH, to do them; and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set-apart to your Elohim (G-d.)"

The language seems to imply that these tassels need to be part of our regular clothing, such that we can look on them and be reminded to keep His commandments all of the time. If we only put them on when we go to Sabbath service it does not really fulfill this command. Further, since verse 38 tells us to make these tassels on the corners of our garments throughout our generations, this commandment would apply to us whether we are in the Dispersion, or in the Land.

It is easier to wear tassels in Israel because they are a common sight. In the Dispersion many people don’t like to wear them, because they make one ‘stick out.’ However, we need to realize that we cannot worry about what the world thinks. We cannot be friends with YHWH and also be friends with the world, because YHWH and the world are opposites. Therefore, we have to choose.

Ya’akov (James) 4:3-6
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim!
5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?
6 But He gives more favor (or ‘grace.’) Therefore He says: "Elohim resists the proud, but shows favor unto the humble."

YHWH is a jealous Elohim, and He is jealous for is our undivided attention and loyalty. It may be that He gives us some commands that are diametrically opposed to what our flesh wants to do, just to see if we will choose to obey Him, or blend in with the world. In other words, He makes us choose between the world and Him, just to see what we value: therefore we need to choose Life, rather than choosing the world.

In Numbers 15:38 (above), YHWH tells us we should put the tassels in the four corners of our garments. The word in Hebrew is Kanaph (כנף ), meaning ‘edge,’ ‘border,’ or ‘wing.’ This same word Kanaph (כנף ) is also found in Malachi 4:1-2.

Malachi 4:1-2
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all of the proud, (yes), all who do wickedly will be stubble! And the day which is coming shall burn them up," says YHWH of hosts, "That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My Name, the Sun of Righteousness (Yeshua) shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat, like stall-fed calves.

 

(19) כִּי הִנֵּה הַיּוֹם בָּא בֹּעֵר כַּתַּנּוּר | וְהָיוּ כָל זֵדִים וְכָל עֹשֵׂה רִשְׁעָה קַשׁ וְלִהַט אֹתָם הַיּוֹם הַבָּא אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲזֹב לָהֶם שֹׁרֶשׁ וְעָנָף:
(20) וְזָרְחָה לָכֶם יִרְאֵי שְׁמִי שֶׁמֶשׁ צְדָקָה וּמַרְפֵּא בִּכְנָפֶיהָ | וִיצָאתֶם וּפִשְׁתֶּם כְּעֶגְלֵי מַרְבֵּק

The Sun of Righteousness is Yeshua, and the wings (כנפים ) of Malachi 4:1-2 refer to the wings of His garments. This explains the healing of the woman with the issue of blood.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 9:20-22
20 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment.
21 For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well!"
22 But Yeshua turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well!" And the woman was made well from that hour.

Is it possible the woman with the issue of blood knew that the Sun of Righteousness would have healing in the wings of the garments; and that is why she took hold of the tzitzit on the hem of His garment? Yeshua’s wings or tassels would have any power of healing in and of themselves: but YHWH would make her whole because of her faith.

In Hebraic thought, the wing of a garment represents authority. In Ruth 3:8-11, it represents the authority of a husband, and his covering.

Ruth (Root) 3:8-11
8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet.
9 And he said, "Who are you?" So she answered, "I am Root (Ruth) your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing (כְנָפֶךָ ), for you are a close relative."
10 Then he said, "Blessed are you of YHWH, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.

When Boaz cast the wing (KJV: skirt) of his garment over Ruth he was literally ‘taking her under his wing.’ He was using his authority to cover, shield and protect her.

First Samuel 24:1-5 also shows us that the wing/corner of one’s garment can represent power and authority. In this case it represents the power and authority of a king.

Shemuel Aleph (1st Samuel) 24:1-5
1 Now it happened, when Shaul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, "Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi."
2 Then Shaul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats.
3 So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Shaul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.)
4 Then the men of David said to him, "This is the day of which YHWH said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’" And David arose and secretly cut off a corner (כנף ) of Saul’s robe.
5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.

When David cut off the corner (or wing) of Shaul’s robe he would have cut off Shaul’s tassel. In so doing he would also have symbolically cut off the symbol of King Shaul’s power and authority.

Scripture gives us two words for these tassels. The word found at Numbers 15:37 is the more well-known of the two words. That word is ‘tzitzit’ (צִיצִת ).

 

Numbers 15:37-40
37 Again YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,
38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 And it shall be unto you for a tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of YHWH, to do them; and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set-apart to your Elohim (G-d.)"

 

(37) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:
(38) דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם לְדֹרֹתָם | וְנָתְנוּ עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת:

(39) וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹת יְהוָה וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם | וְלֹא תָתֻרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם:

(40) לְמַעַן תִּזְכְּרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹתָי | וִהְיִיתֶם קְדֹשִׁים לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם

 

When we look up the meaning of the word ‘tzitzit’, we se it refers to a ‘floral or winglike projection.’

OT:6734 tsiytsith (tsee-tseeth’); feminine of OT:6731; a floral or wing-like projection, i.e. a forelock of hair, a tassel:
KJV – fringe, lock.

When we look up the reference to OT:6731, we can see it refers to a burnished plate, or a flower.

OT:6731 tsiyts (tseets); or tsits (tseets); from OT:6692; properly, glistening, i.e. a burnished plate; also a flower (as bright-colored); a wing (as gleaming in the air):
KJV – blossom, flower, plate, wing.

When we look up the reference to the root word at OT:6692, we see that it refers to a blossom.

OT:6692 tsuwts (tsoots); a primitive root; to twinkle, i.e. glance; by analogy, to blossom (figuratively, flourish):
KJV – bloom, blossom, flourish, shewself.

This word ‘tzitzit’ (צִיצַת ) literally means ‘flowers’, and it is used this way in Isaiah 28:4.

Isaiah 28:4
4 And the glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the verdant valley, like the first fruit before the summer, which an observer sees; He eats it up while it is still in his hand.

 

(4) וְהָיְתָה צִיצַת נֹבֵל צְבִי תִפְאַרְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עַל רֹאשׁ גֵּיא שְׁמָנִים | כְּבִכּוּרָהּ בְּטֶרֶם קַיִץ אֲשֶׁר יִרְאֶה הָרֹאֶה אוֹתָהּ בְּעוֹדָהּ בְּכַפּוֹ יִבְלָעֶנָּה

Ironically, most who people say they put tzitzit in the four corners of their garments do not embroider blue flowers. Rather, they make woven cords that look somewhat more like chains. This is the definition of the other word for tassels, which is “g’dilim” (גְּדִלִים ).

 

Deuteronomy 22:12
12 "You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.

 

(12) גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ | עַל אַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת כְּסוּתְךָ אֲשֶׁר תְּכַסֶּה בָּהּ

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance defines g’dilim” as a tassel or a festoon, in the sense of twisting thread.

OT:1434 gedil (ghed-eel’); from OT:1431 (in the sense of twisting); thread, i.e. a tassel or festoon:
KJV – fringe, wreath.

When we look up the root word at OT:1431, we see that it refers to something twisted.

OT:1431 gadal (gaw-dal’); a primitive root; properly, to twist [compare OT:1434], i.e. to be (causatively make) large (in various senses, as in body, mind, estate or honor, also in pride):
KJV – advance, boast, bring up, exceed, excellent, be (-come, do, give, make, wax), great (-er, come to … estate, things), grow (up), increase, lift up, magnify (-ifical), be much set by, nourish (up), pass, promote, proudly [spoken], tower.

The “G’dilim” (גְּדִלִים ) is frequently rendered as ‘chains’, which also require an interweaving, braiding or twisting of some sort. However, the New King James renders g’dilim as ‘wreaths’ in 1st Kings 7:17.

 

1 Kings 7:17-18
17 He made a lattice network, with wreaths of chainwork, for the capitals which were on top of the pillars: seven chains for one capital and seven for the other capital.

 

(17) שְׂבָכִים מַעֲשֵׂה שְׂבָכָה גְּדִלִים מַעֲשֵׂה שַׁרְשְׁרוֹת לַכֹּתָרֹת אֲשֶׁר עַל רֹאשׁ הָעַמּוּדִים | שִׁבְעָה לַכֹּתֶרֶת הָאֶחָת וְשִׁבְעָה לַכֹּתֶרֶת הַשֵּׁנִית

Wreaths, however, are also braided or interwoven.

One issue that arises is about who is to wear tassels. Some of our Jewish brothers get upset when women wear tassels. Opposite this, many Ephraimites believe that women should wear tassels, because YHWH tells the “children of Israel” (בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל ) to wear tassels, rather than just the men.

 

Numbers 15:37-40
37 Again YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,
38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 And it shall be unto you for a tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of YHWH, to do them; and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set-apart to your Elohim (G-d.)"

 

(37) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:
(38) דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם לְדֹרֹתָם | וְנָתְנוּ עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת:

(39) וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹת יְהוָה וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם | וְלֹא תָתֻרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם:

(40) לְמַעַן תִּזְכְּרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹתָי | וִהְיִיתֶם קְדֹשִׁים לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם

 

If the purpose of the tassel is to serve as a reminder to do all of YHWH’s commandments, then why would this be important only for the men (and not for the women)? The women have the job of training the next generation of Israel: therefore it would seem very important that the women should wear them (and to do otherwise would seem to put the next generation of Israel at risk).

The issue revolves around the definition of the word ‘children’, which is “b’nai” (בְּנֵי ). A son is a ‘ben’ (בֵּן ), and “b’nai” is plural of ‘ben.’ A daughter is a ‘baht’ (בַּת ) and daughters (plural) are called ‘banoht’ (בָנוֹת ).

If one is referring only to daughters (and no males are present) the term is “b’noht” (בָנוֹת ) (daughters). However, if even one single male is present the term is b’nai (בְּנֵי ) (sons). Even if there are ten thousand women and only one man the term is b’nai (בְּנֵי ) (sons). Therefore, one cannot exclude women based on the term b’nai. This is especially true when one realizes that YHWH uses the word “z’char” (זכר ) when He wants to specify males-only. For example, YHWH tells us that “all your males” (זְכוּרְךָ ) need to go up three to Jerusalem three times a year for the pilgrimages.

 

Deuteronomy 16:16-17
16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before YHWH your Elohim in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before YHWH empty-handed.

 

(16) שָׁלוֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָל זְכוּרְךָ אֶת פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר בְּחַג הַמַּצּוֹת וּבְחַג הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת וּבְחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת | וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה אֶת פְּנֵי יְהוָה רֵיקָם

 

But if both men and women are to make tassels in the corners of their garments, then is there any special color of blue that the tassels need to be made from? The Orthodox claim that the Hillazon sea snail (murex trunculus) was the ancient source of the blue dye for set-apart garments and the tabernacle. However, even with modern extraction methods it takes approximately 29 murex trunculus sea snails to make enough blue dye for just one set of tzitzit. When the children of Israel left Egypt they numbered some six hundred thousand men on foot.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:37
37 Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children.

Just one set of tassels for six hundred thousand men, the children of Israel would have needed seventeen million four hundred thousand (17,400,000) Murex Trunculus sea snails (600,000 times 29 is 17,400,000). Where would the children of Israel have found 17,400,000 sea snails in the middle of the Wilderness of Sinai (let alone the curtains of the Tabernacle, or a second set of clothing) This is just not possible from a logistical standpoint. While Murex Trunculus dye was used in ancient Phoenecia for dyeing fabric blue or purple, it was so rare that only royalty could afford it. Even if the children of Israel could have afforded it after YHWH helped them fleece Egypt, there just simply was not enough of it to clothe six hundred thousand men on foot. Beyond this, there is no archaeological record of Murex Trunculus dyed-cloth in Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

In contrast, blue cloth dyed from the indigo plant was very common in Egypt at the time of the Exodus, and it would also have been readily available to the people as they were leaving Egypt. The Indians and the Chinese were experts with indigo dye even in ancient times, and it is likely that the Hebrew word for blue used in Numbers 15-37-40 may itself be borrowed from Indian Sanskrit. The Hebrew word is ‘techelet’ (תְּכֵלֶת ) and the Indian name is ‘kala.’ Note the similarity between ‘te-kala’ and ‘te-chelet.’

[It is also not given that purple cloth from that time frame was dyed from Murex Trunculus. The Hebrew word for purple (or reddish-violet) is ‘argaman’ and/or ‘argevan.’ Some scholars believe this is related to the Indian Sanskrit words ‘ragamen’ and ‘ragavan,’ both of which derive from the Indian word ‘raga,’ meaning ‘red.’ We might add that to use purple dyed cloth from Murex snails for the Tabernacle would have suffered from the same challenges that doom the Murex-blue-dye theory: there just simply was not enough of it at that time.]

So far we have seen that the command to wear tzitzit is applicable today, and that it applies equally for men, women and children. We have also seen that the most likely source for the blue dye was the indigo plant. The only thing left to discuss, then, is our Orthodox brethren’s concept of needing to be uniform in the manner of tying the tassels.

Our Orthodox brothers place a great deal of importance on uniform dress. They believe that if one is a Haredi Pharisee then one is supposed to dress a certain way; whereas if one is a Breslov Hasid then one is supposed to dress a different way. Our Orthodox brethren take these things very seriously, and they consider that there is even spiritual importance to the styles used. Those who are ‘in the know’ can tell at a glance what another Jew believes (or does not believe) just by looking at his clothing.

The Orthodox rabbis assert that they have the right to dictate dress codes for all Israel, because YHWH said we are supposed to listen to the priests and the Levites that exist in those days.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:8-13
8 "If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which YHWH your Elohim chooses.
9 And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment.
10 You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which YHWH chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you.
11 According to the sentence of the Torah in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you.
12 Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before YHWH your Elohim, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.”

I explain why the rabbis are not the anointed authorities in the article, ‘Judges and Judicial Authority.’ I also hope to expound more on this topic in a future article about “Moshe’s seat.” However, the main issue is that the reason YHWH said to listen to the priests and the Levites is that they were supposed to speak according to YHWH’s Instructions (rather than make their own). YHWH is very plain that He does not want us to add or take anything away from His Instructions.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:32
32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”

It is true that there are some matters in which we must be uniform. For example, Scripture tells us to shun idolators, adulterers, blood and strangled meats.

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:19-21
19 “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim,
20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moshe has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

We need to be uniform in the things that YHWH has commanded. For example, we all need to be modestly dressed: but does that mean we need to wear the same clothing, right down to the way we tie our tassels (and even our shoes)? Our Orthodox brothers would argue that yes, we have to tie our tassels (and our shoes) however they say, or else we are not fulfilling YHWH’s commandment. However, this is to add to His commandments, which He prohibits.

YHWH gives us a commandment to put a tassel with a blue thread in the four corners of the garment with which we cover ourselves. So long as we have a tassel with a blue thread in each of the four wings of our garment, then we are fulfilling His command.

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