What Is the Prayer Shawl Miracle?


What Is the Prayer Shawl Miracle?


Though I’ve never heard of Jesus’ miracle in Matthew 9:20-22 described as the “Prayer Shawl Miracle” it does seem a somewhat fitting title for it. Matthew 9:20-22 states:

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Some Facts About Jesus’ Garment

As a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus wore a prayer shawl (Matt. 26:25, 49; Mark 9:5, 11:21, 14:45; John 1:38, 49, 2:2, 4:31, 6:25, 9:2, 11:8). This would have been an outside garment. We see instructions for how to make a prayer shawl in Numbers 15:37-41. The description includes tassels (tzitzit) on the four corners of the garment and a blue cord on each tassel.

It’s a unique garment. The numerical value of all the letters making up the word “tzitzit” (tassels) is exactly 600.

Tav = 400 Yod = 10 Tzadei = 90 Yod = 10 Tzadei = 90 = 600

When we add to this the 8 strings (tassels) and 5 knots on each corner, we obtain a total of 613. This is the number of the Commandments (mitzvah) in the Torah (consisting of 365 laws Jews should not do and 248 they should do). These tassels – called “tzitzit” – were a symbol of the Jew’s commitment to obey the commandments of God found in the Torah. So, the prayer shawl reminded its owner of the commandments of Yahweh, which are holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12).

A Fact About the Woman’s Faith

Now that we know a small amount about Jesus’ prayer shawl we can determine why Jesus spoke so authoritatively about this woman’s faith.

Of course, as God Jesus knew the woman had faith. But he also says her faith was demonstrated. While she was ceremonially unclean (Lev. 15:25-27), why did she touch the hem of Jesus’ garment? Why touch? Speaking about God, Malachi 4:2 states:

 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Did you see that, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” The word “wings” (in Heb. kanaph) in Malachi 4:2 may also mean “corners, edges, garment,” etc. So this woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years trusted God’s Word. She touched the hem, that is the corner of Jesus’ garment. She’s telling the world that she believes Jesus is the promised "Sun of Righteousness," that is that Jesus is the Messiah. This woman, a sinner, believed in Jesus!

So, “prayer shawl miracle” is somewhat a fitting description. Perhaps we should add the word “faith” to it; the “prayer shawl faith miracle.”

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).