What is the meaning of Tassels in Number 15:37-41?
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NKJV Numbers 15:37 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels <06734> on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels <06734> of the corners. 39 "And you shall have the tassel <06734>, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and 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 holy for your God.
Using Strong’s Concordance and Hebrew Lexicon: Tassels <06734> tuyu tsiytsith; (from 06731 flower, shining thing) Meaning: tassel, lock (of hair) used 4 times in the Old Testament: 3 times in Numbers 15:38-39 above and once in Ezekiel 8:3.
Ezekiel 8:3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock <06734> of mine head...
A different word is used in Deuteronomy 22:12 NKJV Deuteronomy 22:12 "You shall make tassels <01434> on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself. Tassels <01434> ldg gedil meaning: twisted threads, tassels
From Barnes Commentary: The ordinary outer Jewish garment was a quadrangular piece of cloth like a modern plaid, to the corners of which, in conformity with this command, a tassel was attached. Each tassel had a conspicuous thread of deep blue, this colour being doubtless symbolic of the heavenly origin of the commandments of which it was to serve as a memento. Tradition determined that the other threads should be white—this colour being an emblem of purity (compare Isaiah 1:18). The arrangement of the threads and knots, to which the Jews attached the greatest importance, was so adjusted as to set forth symbolically the precepts of which the Law was believed to consist. In our Lord’s time the Pharisees enlarged their fringes (Matthew 23:5) in order to obtain reputation for their piety. In later times however, the Jews have worn the fringed garment (talith) of a smaller size and as an under-dress. Its use is still retained, especially at morning prayer in the Synagogue.
From Eclectic notes: And now again we have what the spiritual sense alone can interpret to us: the people are commanded to make upon the borders of their garments tassels, and upon the tassels a cord of blue, that they may look upon the tassels, and remember the commandments of Jehovah, and do them, that they may be holy to their God. The tassel is literally a "flower," from a root which means "to shine," and which is used of the plate upon the high-priest’s forehead, which similarly is connected with a lace of blue (Exodus 28:36). This, it is plain, is not a mere casual resemblance: as in the high-priest’s diadem holiness becomes the crown of the garments, here we find it on the border of them, next the ground: the lace of blue, the heavenly colour, reminding us that heavenliness is holiness. This, where the garment touches the ground, secures the habits, as it were, from the invasion of earthliness. While the flowerlike form may attest the "beauty of holiness," and that it is a living growth where real. Full consecration is clearly the lesson of the tassel and its attachment.
From Matthew Henry Commentary: The people are ordered by the Lord to make fringes on the borders of their garments. The Jews were distinguished from their neighbours in their dress, as well as in their diet, and thus taught not to be conformed to the way of the heathen in other things. They proclaimed themselves Jews wherever they were, as not ashamed of God and his law. The fringes were not appointed for trimming and adorning their clothes, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance (2Peter 3:1). If they were tempted to sin, the fringe would warn them not to break God’s commandments. We should use every means of refreshing our memories with the truths and precepts of God’s word, to strengthen and quicken our obedience, and arm our minds against temptation. Be holy unto your God; cleansed from sin, and sincerely devoted to his service; and that great reason for all the commandments is again and again repeated, "I am the Lord your God."
In the New Testament:
Matthew 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem <2899> of his garment:
Matthew 14:36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem <2899> of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders <2899> of their garments,
Mark 6:56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border <2899> of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
Luke 8:44 Came behind him, and touched the border <2899> of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
Using Strong’s Concordance and Greek Lexicon: Hem <2899> kraspedon kraspedon; used 5 times in the New Testament and translated in the KJV as ‘border’ 3 times, ‘hem’ twice (as above) The Greek <2899> kraspedon kraspedon is used in the Septuagint (in Numbers 15:38-39) to translate the Hebrew <06734> tuyu tsiytsith, so we can be reasonably certain that a tassel is intended in the New Testament.
The command to wear tassels in the corners of their garments was part of the Law of Moses given to Israel. For them the Law was written in stone and the carnal ordinances were designed to keep it in the forefront of their minds. The Law of Moses is not binding upon Christians because Christ fulfilled the Law and took it out of the way.
Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
For us the Law should be written in our hearts and kept active by the word of God and our consciences.
2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
In Christ the Old Covenant (the Law of Moses) is replaced by the New Covenant (the commandments of Christ). The carnal ordinances along with tassels and Sabbath observance have no part in the New Covenant.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
The tassels were in the corners or wings and there is a reference which may interest you (with reference to those who were healed by touching the tassel in the corner of Christ’s garment) in Malachi 4:2
Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
I hope you have found this helpful.
May God bless you,