This passage in Yesha-Yahu [Isaiah] has become one of my favorite scriptures, and the photo above one of my new favorites. The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘how much like ‘wings’ does that tallit look as it is ‘decending’ on me.’ It’s a special picture, because it comes from the day my wife and I renewed our vows under the Khuppah three years ago, after twenty years of marriage. I was preparing for that ceremony. I have often ‘praised’ Elohim for giving me my “Eshet Khayil,” and that day I was happy to commit our marriage to Him again, and to affirm our continued trust in the Jewish Savior.
This scripture is one of my favorites, because this is what Messiah Yeshua read when he returned to His home town synagogue to read at the Bimah when it was HIS TURN to be the Oleh [the one who ascends to the Bimah, to read Torah.] He was handed the Yesha-Yahu scroll, meaning it was ‘time’ to read that scroll, and that passage. It was His turn, because it was the anniversary of His birth, and this portion was read every year at that time. [Later Rabbis removed it from the ‘orthodox’ Jewish reading cycle, because it is so pivotal a scripture about Messiah Yeshua.]
This passage is “Messianic,” meaning it gives us information about The Coming One. The sixth word in the first verse in Hebrew is MASHAKH, which is the verb ‘anointed,’ whose ‘noun’ is Mashiakh: Messiah. So, the Messiah was anointed to declare the B’sorah [Good News, the ninth word in Hebrew in verse 1], to bind up broken hearts, proclaim freedom to captives, open bound eyes [take blinders off sighted people], to declare the year of the good pleasure of יהוה. This is where Yeshua stops reading; but the verse goes on to say that this Messiah would ‘appoint unto them that mourn in Tzion to give them a garland for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, and the MANTLE of PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness….’
The “Mantle of Praise’ has been on my mind, as I sing a melody frequently to these verses, and over the past few weeks, the ‘Ma’ateh Tehillah’ just seems to ‘glow’ in my mind as I contemplate these words while singing; I can’t explain it.
The Jewish “Tallit,” what many call a ‘prayer shawl,’ is the modern [dating from the Middle Ages] garment worn at the Beit K’nesset [Synagogue] of Jews on Shabbat. But, the custom of having an outer garment that is used for prayer goes back to the very beginning of real Judaism. While it is not ‘on the surface’ of the text until much later, it is nonetheless a well-known, historically prevalent feature of Jewish dress and custom, and is heavily alluded to even in the beginning of the Torah.
When Y’hudah gave pledge to Tamar, she asked for his signet ring, his staff, and his ‘cord,’ which does not mean much to the modern reader. There, the words are : וּפְתִילֶךָ, וּמַטְּךָ . This is your ‘petil’ and your ‘staff.’ But, look very carefully at the second word [right to left], because it ‘sounds’ just like the word Ma’ateh in our subject: mantle. That is likely a hint. The petil is ‘thread,’ but notice how she asked for HIS thread. This is not just any ‘string’ hanging off his clothes. These are the ‘tassles’ that Jewish men wore on their four-cornered outer garment! When יהוה instructs them to make tassels in BaMidbar 15 [Numbers], He is telling them to make a PETIL of TEKHELET. A thread of BLUE [light blue]. They already wore tzit-tziyot! There are ancient pictures of Ivrim [Hebrews] in Egyptian hyroglyphs that show them wearing tassels! Abba was just modifying their own custom! The blue thread is made with the same color, ‘Tekhelet,’ that was used to make the whole robe of the High Priest, to remind them to keep the commandments of יהוה.
This ‘Ma’ateh’ is also called an ‘ADERET,’ אַדֶּרֶת, which is just another word for ‘mantle,’ the outer cloak of ancient Jewish men. It was distinct from the clothing of other nations. This is seen in the book of Yehoshua, where Akhan takes a ‘Babylonian Aderet’ because he coveted it. Taking the garment of Babylon [and other treasures] got some men of Yisra’el killed! That’s because in all ancient near-east cultures, the outer garment was more than a ‘shirt;’ It was one’s own personal ‘tent,’ used in worship. The problem with a Babylonian garment is that their deities were all sexual deities, and their garments used in those rites!
But a Jewish ‘Aderet,’ or ‘Ma’ateh’, is much more. It is a ‘picture’ of the Ruakh HaKodesh [Holy Wind/Breath/Spirit] of Elohim! We see a powerful picture of this in the “Aderet” of Eli-Yahu:
“And it was so, when Eli-Yahu heard it, that he wrapped his face in his אַדֶּרֶת mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said: ‘What are you doing here, Eli-Yahu?”
Since Eli-Yahu is a good Jew, we know his ‘outer garment’ of ‘four corners’ would have had the Tzit-Tziyot on it, with a Petil Tekhelet [thread of blue.] “You shall make for yourself twisted cords on the four corners [literally ‘wings’] of the garment in which you wrap yourself.” גְּדִלִים, תַּעֲשֶׂה-לָּךְ, עַל-אַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת כְּסוּתְךָ, אֲשֶׁר תְּכַסֶּה-בָּהּ [D’varim 22:12, the affirmation of the command in BaMidbar 15:38-41] Eli-Yahu wrapped his face in his four-cornered garment, for prayer, and heard the ‘still, small voice’ of יהוה. This, too, was a long-standing custom in Yisra’el, as David had wrapped himself up for prayer in his at one point, as well.
Eli-Yahu’s ‘aderet’ was always on him, and so the ‘ruakh,’ or spirit, that was on him, the ‘anointing’ that was on him, affected that very garment!
“And Eli-Yahu took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two went over on dry ground.” [Melakhim Bet (2nd Kings) 2:8
“And he [Eli-Sha] took the mantle of Eli-Yahu that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, ‘Where is יהוה Elohei Eli-Yahu?’ And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted here and there: and Eli-Sha went over.” ibid 2:14
Eli-Yahu’s mantle is clearly the symbol and in some means the ‘bearer’ of his ‘anointing,’ since Eli-Sha had just asked for a ‘double portion’ of his anointing, and received it via the ‘aderet’ falling out of heaven!
So Eli-Yahu’s aderet/mantle, his outer garment, which bore the petil tekhelet, was used for prayer, and was a symbol of his anointing.
So, why is it called a “Tallit” today?
The word Tallit comes from the Aramaic word טלל, ‘Tallel,’ which means ‘wrap.’ It is rooted in the same Hebrew word seen in 1 Kings 19 where Eli-Yahu ‘wrapped’ himself in his ‘aderet.’
“Lut.” These two words even have the same letters in them. Aramaic is a ‘sister’ language of Hebrew, and is the original language of the Brit Khadashah [renewed covenant] scriptures. This word, Tallel, is also loosely related to the Hebrew words for both prayer and praise: תְּפִלָּה and תְהִלָּה . ‘Tefilah’ and ‘Tehillah.’ Other scholars posit that the Hebrew word ‘tal,’ an unused word that means ‘tent,’ possibly from ‘talal,’
which means ‘roof,’ and adding a suffix ‘it’ meaning ‘little,’ i.e., ‘little roof’ or ‘little tent.’ This has long been the understanding of what the Tallit is, a personal ‘tent’ for prayer. This is why men in our Jewish Synagogues ‘wrap’ their family in their tallit during prayer.
So, Yesha-Yahu tells us that Mashiakh will give those who mourn in Tzion a ‘Ma’ateh Tehillah,’ a ‘garment of PRAISE’ instead of the spirit of heaviness. Tzion is Yisra’el. The Jewish People. The ‘Tallit’ as we know it did not come about until after Yisra’el was ‘scattered’ when the House of Praise/Prayer was torn down by Rome. Today, there are prayers that specifically mourn the loss of the House. So, the ‘garment’ of Praise is an obvious picture of the Ruakh HaKodesh, which descended on Yeshua like a dove when He immersed, much like Eli-Yahu’s aderet fell to Eli-Sha. Yeshua came to rebuild the House of Elohim, to restore the foundations, to make it a House of Prayer for ALL PEOPLE. It is a spiritual house first, and was always spiritual, long before Shlomo laid the foundation stone in Yirushalayim. Ya’akov met יהוה after he prayed, and called the place of that meeting, Beit El, the House of G-d. Yeshua gives us an outer ‘garment,’ ‘mantle,’ a mantle of PRAISE, and the whole book of Hebrews was written to keep the Messianic Jews from mourning the coming loss of the stone House of Elohim, because we already have in place THE House of Elohim, being built by Yeshua. “Do you not know that you yourselves ARE the House of Elohim?”
So, a Tallit is a VERY biblical thing, and is a daily reminder of the PRAISE Messiah has given to Yisra’el, those who have been healed of their broken hearts, and had the blinders lifted off their spiritual eyes. There is so much more to the Tallit than I can even cover in this short span of time. But it is a custom that is deeply rooted in Yisra’el, in Torah, and in Messiah Yeshua Himself. He wore one, and the woman who touched the ‘kanaf’ where his Petil Tekhelet hanged was instantly healed.
I suppose one thing that compelled me to write this was that this past Shabbat, an elderly Jewish man came up for prayer, and as we were praying for him, my eyes came open, and I saw him grasping my ‘kanaf.’ The scripture came to mind of the woman who grasped Yeshua’s and was healed, as did the following two scriptures, and I very nearly was overwhelmed with JOY and PRAISE:
“But unto you that fear MY NAME shall the Sun of Tzedaka arise with healing in his Kanafim [wings].” Mal 3:20/4:2
“Thus says יהוה Tzeva’ot; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the KANAF of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that Elohim is with you.'” Zekhar-Yah 8:23