Ancient Jewish history and culture is very relevant to our interpretation of the Scriptures, particularly Old Testament, the Gospels, Hebrew Epistles, and the book of Revelation (i.e., non-Pauline writings).
Jewish history and culture holds contextual cues to understanding many of the above passages. And yet, you don’t need to go much beyond the Bible to relate to it. Let’s just take one example.
In ancient Israel, men tied tassels (tzitzit) on edges of their outer garments (which evolved into prayer shawls, or tallit).
Numbers 15:37-41 prescribes this to Israel:
37 Again the Lord 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 you shall have the tassel, 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. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”
Per the passage, it’s the reminder of God’s deliverance from Egypt. Egypt was called Mizraim in ancient Hebrew, which meant “boundaries, restriction, narrow place”. There are alternate meanings, but this is consistent with the type of Egypt as satan-ruled system / kosmos.
It was also a sign of having “more of God” by being obedient (as per the passage above), as indicated by Pharisees making their tzitzits long (Matthew 25:3).
1 Samuel 24
[…] And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
The word “corner” here is כָּנָף (knph) – H3671, which roughly 75% of the times is translated “wings”.
Why did David feel remorse for cutting out the tzitzit of Saul’s robe? Clearly, it had a meaning other than just a decorative piece.
Notice the word used in Mal. 4:2
But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
The word translated as “wings” here is the same word – כָּנָף (knph) – H3671 – as in 1 Sam 24. Now we have healing is associated with tzitzit. You see how it’s associated with being freed from “boundaries, restriction, narrow place” (Egypt) in the 2nd part of this verse?
And now – this:
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.”
The “edge” is a translation of the Greek noun κράσπεδον (kraspedon), which means “the extremity or prominent part of a thing, edge, skirt, margin”.
The woman knew perfectly well what she was doing, why she was doing it, and the promise that the corners of the garment of Jesus held, scripturally. She must have remembered that Malachi passage, believed that Jesus is the fulfillment of it, and simply took what the Scripture promised, without asking anyone for their opinion or advice. How’s that for faith?!
Here’s another passage:
35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.
Again, it was an act of faith in a specific word of God detailed in a specific scripture.
You can see how the scriptures pertaining to this symbol of authority, deliverance, and healing were beautifully fulfilled in Jesus.