This post is a result of my studies in an Inductive bible study class. I was looking at the story of the hemorrhaging woman healed by Jesus. I couldn’t help but notice some very odd elements of this story. A woman, not to be too free with how they approached any man, took the liberty of sneaking through the back of the crowd to get even a touch of His garment. I also could help but notice that the woman was coming from the back of the crowd, the accepted place for anyone unclean. The woman was suffering from bleeding that most now would call a period. A glance at Leviticus shows how unclean these women were in the Jewish community.
If you think that this is crazy, go read the Niddah in the Mishnah. It is a whole list of how to handle the unclean. It is quite astounding that this woman did this. It is a wonder she was not stoned to death.
I love this story being found in the midst of Jairus’ dead daughter. If you paid attention reading the Niddah, you would see that there is state of a woman’s “flow” and a dead corpse’s skin are always unclean. I was not able to read any conclusive evidence as to the connection between the story and the Niddah, but I find it thought provoking. We know that Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead and the hemorrhaging woman.
In both we also see that the word daughter is thrown into it in labeling the women. I cannot help but propose that the term daughter might be tied into the term “Daughter of Israel.” Maybe Jesus is saying to the crowd (or Mark is saying to his audience), “You say that the daughter of a good Jew is a Daughter of Israel. But I say that even this hemorrhaging woman is a Daughter of Israel.” If you look at some of the laws and guidelines concerning the bleeding women, it seems as if their flow of blood makes them exempt from even being a clean persona and in such, not able to benefit from being a daughter of Israel. Jesus (or Mark) would be adding commentary to this cultural understanding.
And Jesus, after feeling the power leave him, had to ask, “Who touched me?” It sounds like a joke from Jesus and I can’t seem to put my finger on why he said this. Maybe I will learn this one later in my studies.
One thing that was a hot topic in class was the woman approaching with fear and trembling. Most took it as a description of a modern understanding of fear. I tend to take to the school of thought that there is more awe and amazement in this statement than just simple fear and trembling as contemporarily proposed. Guelich in his Word Commentary on Mark proposed the same thing. I tend to agree on the basis that miracles experienced by the one who had been healed were rejoicing. This woman would have reason to do just that. She had been set free from certain social boundaries in her life. One could say that since Jesus imparted wholeness to her, she logically did not impart uncleanness to Christ. Can this be reason for rejoicing? I think yes.
The last part of this story is Jesus blessing her. First he states that her faith had made her whole, meaning that he was saying that she was at the moment whole, probably saving her from the crowds anger. Then he tells her to go and be healed (freed) from her calamity. I take this to be the steps she was supposed to take when she stopped bleeding. When that happened she was, according to Leviticus, to go present herself to the priest and offer sacrifice to declare her clean state. This would certainly free her of any calamity when thought of in terms of the limitations due to the proposed religious norms according to Leviticus.
I know this next thing might not have a strong foundation, and I admit, it’s more hypothesis than conclusion, but maybe Jesus is taking a Deuteronomic idea of being socially just and making it a commentary on the Levitical Law. Deuteronomy does have an agenda at certain points to care for the oppressed, and this woman, after 12 years of bleeding. Such a woman would practically be a widowed from any contact with her husband, orphaned from a family, and an alien to her nation. Jesus says this should not be.
I think we should listen to Jesus more. It seems as if he always approaching the Jews who do not share the status of other good, whole Jews. How many Christians have you met that take on different understandings of the teachings of Christianity than you? And how many times have you denied them the shalom of God? Take a look at the liberal or conservative that differs from you. I am not saying not to disagree. Jesus had plenty of “bad” Jews that he said were wrong, Just look at the mention of the tax collectors. But they need to be called to God’s Kingdom, just as we were called out of a life not so wholesome.
Anyways, grace and peace to you all, whether you have been labeled as clean or unclean by any Christian community.