Beged: GARMENT- soaked in treachery, washed in blood.

GARMENT/CLOTHING: beged. Masculine noun. (Strong’s 899).

Root: בֶּגֶד

Sounds like: behg’ed

I’ve never really thought much about clothes in the Bible, but honestly, there’s a rich wealth of information here that paints an interesting story. Sometimes the simplest words have the most profound meaning. Clothing or garment is one of those words.

Although we will be looking primarily at the most common Hebrew word for clothing, beged, it is important to point out that there are many other words meaning clothing or specific kinds of clothes. For example, mawd (4055) meaning clothing, k’tohnet (3801) meaning tunic or robe, simlah (8071) meaning wrap or garment, mal’bush (4403) meaning raiment or attire, shul (7757) meaning skirt or train of a robe, and l’voosh  (3830/3847), a verb, meaning to be clothed. These words are occasionally used alongside beged, to give a more varied or detailed vocabulary within the same verses.

YHWH’s Robe

We only get a very small glimpse into the outfit that YHWH wears. In Isaiah 6, when the prophet had a vision about being in God’s throne room, he recorded, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe [w-shulah] filling the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)

Although in this vision God was dressed in a robe, it’s not likely that He had a robe designer or tailor on His celestial staff team. Considering Eve and Adam were naked until the apple incident exposed their shame, I suggest a better picture of YHWH’s apparel comes from the Psalms: 

Psalm 104:1-2a

Bless YHWH, O my soul! O YHWH my God, You are very great; You are clothed [lavash’ta] with splendour and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak…

As lovely as it would be to wear light, unfortunately we are left only with garments of cloth and animal hide, but as unimportant as our clothing seems, the word does get considerably attention in scripture. Let’s start by looking at a few common themes in the Bible related to clothing:

Unlike Clothing, YHWH Never Wears Out

Job recognized his mortality and said, “I am decaying like a rotten thing, like a garment [k-beged] that is moth-eaten.” (Job13:28). Garments were often connected to this analogy… human bodies would wear out, but the salvation of God and His Kingdom would be forever.

Isaiah 51:6-8

“Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment [ka-beged] and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane.

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law; do not fear the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them like a garment [ka-beged], and the grub will eat them like wool. But My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation to all generations.

Being stripped naked exposes you

A common theme, particularly in Ezekiel, was the shame associated with being naked. The Israelites had turned to wickedness… they dressed in harlot’s clothes, they even dressed their idols in embroidered garments, and then (the ultimate offence) they sacrificed their children to these clothed (treacherous) idols. YHWH announced to the errant Israelites that their enemies would come and strip them naked; they would loose everything and be exposed:

Ezekiel 16:15-22, 39

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. You took some of your clothes [mi-b’gadayik], made for yourself high places of various colours and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth [big’deh] and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened,” declares the Lord YHWH. Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. Besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood…”

…“I will also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing [b’gadayik], take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare.”

This concept of the Hebrew people being stripped of their clothing and ultimately exposing their nakedness (see also Ezekiel 23:26, Ezekiel 26:16) highlighted the shame they would experience when the Babylonians came for them. They would return, metaphorically, to their infant state, naked and bare and squirming in their own blood.

In response to knowing what it was like to be stripped bare, it should be of no surprise that YHWH called on His people to clothe the naked (Isaiah 58:6-9a). Yeshua said that those who would inherit the Kingdom would do so because, ‘…I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something  to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.(Matthew 25:35-36)

A third theme, which we will come back to, is the image of filthy garments being made clean. But to fully understand the analogy it’s important to see how clothing was tied into the early history of the Hebrew people.

Clothing and Treachery

Clothing wasn’t even a thing until Eve and Adam made a disastrous choice. The adversarial serpent accosted Eve and coyly twisted words to make her doubt herself and doubt God. Even after Eve told the serpent that they were not to touch the tree or they would die, the serpent responded with these words: 

Genesis 3:4-7

“You will not surely die,” the serpent told her. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom, she took the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.

The moment Adam and Eve tasted the fruit and became fully aware of good and evil, the concept of lust and desire caused an awareness that made nakedness somehow feel wrong and shameful, and they instantly manufactured clothing and covered themselves up. 

So it should come as no surprise that the Hebrew word for garment (בֶּגֶד) shares the same root letters used for the word treachery (בָּגד). In fact, most of the instances in Genesis where we read about clothing it is connected to a story involving treachery or deceit.

In Genesis 27 Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and mother to Esau and Jacob, was particularly fond of her youngest son, Jacob. She wanted the best for him, including the inheritance meant for her oldest son Esau. And so she used treachery to raise the status of her favoured son:

Genesis 27:15-19

Then Rebekah took the best garments [big’deh] of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.

Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.”…

But there were multiple points of doubt in Isaac’s mind, and so he questioned Jacob directly:

Genesis 27:24-29

…And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.” So he said, “Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.” And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come close and kiss me, my son.”

So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments [b’gadaw], he blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which YHWH has blessed; now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; may peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.

So Jacob (who name meant “deceiver”) tricked his father Isaac, and Esau lost his birthright. Ultimately it was clothing that helped this treachery become successful.

Treachery happened again with the use of clothing when Jacob’s sons, jealous of their brother Joseph and his beautiful multi-coloured tunic, sold him to Ishmaelites, on their way to Egypt, for slavery. 

Genesis 37:29-34

Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments [b’gadaw]. He returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?” So they took Joseph’s tunic [k’tohnet], and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicoloured tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” So Jacob tore his clothes [sim’lotah], and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.

The brothers used clothing (a tunic) to help with the success of the deceit. And for those distraught, (Reuben and Jacob), they tore their garments in sorrow.

Treachery and clothing were connected again when Joseph, now a servant in Egypt, was sexually pursued by the wife of his master Potiphar.

Genesis 39:6b-18

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. She caught him by his garment [b-big’doh], saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment [big’doh] in her hand and fled, and went outside. When she saw that he had left his garment [big’doh] in her hand and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment [big’doh] beside me and fled and went outside.” So she left his garment [big’doh] beside her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment [big’doh] beside me and fled outside.”

Potiphar’s wife used Joseph’s garment to turn her deceit into a successful lie, and Joseph was put into jail for a crime he did not commit.

But the topic of Joseph’s clothes came full circle when the Pharaoh of Egypt bestowed great power on Joseph: 

Genesis 41:41-43

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him [wa-yal’besh] in garments [big’deh] of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, “Bow the knee!” And he set him over all the land of Egypt.

There’s another story in Genesis about clothing and treachery. But in this instance the trickster was actually in the right, and the deceived learned an embarrassing lesson. 

In ancient Israelite society, if a man died and left a wife without children, the man’s brothers would take the responsibility of providing a child in honour of their deceased brother. Tamar found herself in this situation. Judah, the fourth son of Isaac and Rebekah, had three sons. The first son, Er, was married to Tamar, but he died, so his brother Onan was tasked to provide a child to be Tamar and Er’s offspring, not his own. This did not please him so he “wasted his seed on the ground”, rather than provide a child for his deceased brother and his widow. For his deception, YHWH ended the life of Onan. 

Judah, having lost two sons connected to Tamar, worried that his youngest son would suffer the same fate, so he told Tamar to remain in her widow’s garments until Shelah (his youngest) was of age. However, he never intended to join them together. 

Tamar, realizing that she had been duped out of her widow’s rights took charge of her own destiny. After hearing her mother-in-law had died, she deceived her father-in-law in order regain her widow’s rights.

Genesis 38:13-19

It was told to Tamar, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” So she removed her widow’s garments [big’deh] and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?” He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments  [big’deh].

But when Judah went to pay with the young goat, he could not find her. Rather than admit his shame in cavorting with a prostitute, Judah stopped looking for her and let her keep the pledge of the seal, cord and staff in order to save face.

Months later, when Judah found out that Tamar was pregnant he was livid. She was the widow to his son, and she could have only conceived if she gave up her widowhood and played the part of a prostitute. He called for her to be burned as a punishment. But Tamar had other plans:

Genesis 38:25-26

It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.” And she said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?” Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.

Tamar would afterwards give birth to twins, Perez and Zerah. This was the line from which the Messiah would come; Tamar and Perez (meaning breach) are both listed as direct ancestors Yeshua (Jesus).

The Clean Garment of Salvation

Whereas humans used garments to carry out treachery, God used garments to fulfill salvation. He would take our treacherous and filthy garments, wash them and save us:

Isaiah 61:10

I will rejoice greatly in YHWH, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me [hil’bishani] with garments of salvation [big’deh yesha], He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah also spoke of the symbolic “filthy garment”:

Isaiah 64:6

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment [u-k-beged]; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Zechariah used the image of a filthy garment to highlight YHWH’s ability and desire to completely cleanse us:

Zechariah 3:1-8

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of YHWH, and [the] Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. YHWH said to [the] Satan, “YHWH rebuke you, [the] Satan! Indeed, YHWH who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments [b’gadim] and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments [ha-b’gadim] from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe [w-hal’besh] you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments [b’gadim], while the angel of YHWH was standing by.

And the angel of YHWH admonished Joshua, saying,“Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here. Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.’”

Joshua (or Yehoshua), the High Priest was a symbol of God’s servant, the Branch, to come. The Messiah would be the true and final High Priest for all the nations.

High Priest: Do Not Tear Clothes

There were special garments for priests and the High Priest to wear, and special instructions for them:

Ezekiel 42:14

“When the priests enter [the holy chambers of the Temple], then they shall not go out into the outer court from the sanctuary without laying there their garments [big’deh’hem] in which they minister, for they are holy. They shall put on other garments [b’gadim]; then they shall approach that which is for the people.

So the High Priest had special garments for the inner sanctuary, and special garments to minister to others outside the Temple. Leviticus laid out special instructions for the High Priest:

Leviticus 21:10

The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments [ha-b’gadim], shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes [u-v’gadah].’

There is debate as to whether this passage means that he was not to tear any of his clothes, or only certain ceremonial clothes (such as the inner sanctuary clothes). If it was specific garments, Leviticus 21 does not make this clear. If he was not to tear ANY of his garments, this law exposed a vital mistake made by Caiaphas, high priest during Yeshua’s final days on earth, and the man who plotted his death.

Notice what happened at the event of Yeshua’s trial in front of the Jewish Council:

Matthew 26:59-66

Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest [Caiaphas] stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

The tearing of clothing was an emotional reaction to a dramatic event. Caiaphas was overwhelmed, but he also wanted to emotionally electrify the people and encourage them to support Yeshua’s execution. If this was a violation against Leviticus 21 then he either blatantly disobeyed laws to dramatically make his point OR he was sincerely so enraged that he simply was unable to stop himself from disobeying God’s law. In either scenario Caiaphas was on the wrong side of the battle and not living or acting as a high priest ought to live or behave.

It has been argued, since the time of the early Church fathers, that this event meant that Caiaphas, in breaking the sacred law, forfeited his High Priesthood directly in front of the Son of Man who stood poised to become the one, final, High Priest of YHWH’s Kingdom.

The tearing of clothes, as an expression of emotional upheaval, can be found all over the Hebrew scriptures: Numbers 14 (Joshua & Caleb), Judges 11 (Jephthah), 2 Samuel 13 (King David), 1 Kings 21 (King Ahab), 2 Kings 2 (Prophet Elisha), 2 King 11 (Queen Athaliah), Ezra 9 (Ezra), Esther 4 (Mordecai), Isaiah 37 (King Hezekiah), to name a few. But YHWH did not see the value in this expression of emotion:

Joel 2:12-13

“Yet even now,” declares YHWH, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments [w’al big’dekem]. Now return to YHWH your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.”

Yeshua, as the true true High Priest, never tore his garments. Even in the most emotionally charged moments of his life (for example, the death of his beloved friend, Lazarus) he expressed his sorrow quietly through tears, and not with the emphatic expression of tearing his clothes.

Clothing and the Gospel of the High Priest

Yeshua spoke often of clothing (we’re only skimming the surface here), but perhaps his most well known quote on the subject is the following:

Luke 12:22-23, 27-28

And He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing… 

…Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!”

samantha-gades-jh8WipwZKBY-unsplash
Photo by Samantha Gades (Unsplash.com)

Ornamenting our bodies with clothing is hardly the point of life. We need to put less focus on what we wear, and more focus on what we do. If the focus of our lives is on what we wear, it’s a pretty shallow reflection of who we truly are.

Yeshua said he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), and in doing so he addressed key points in the Jewish covenantal law, including sabbath and purity laws. In one particular miracle, which concerned purity laws, Yeshua’s garment was the primary object of the story:

Mark 5:25-34 (see also Matthew 9 & Luke 8)

A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

Yeshua’s garment wasn’t magical, but faith can move mountains, and faith can heal. This women bled for twelve years, meaning she couldn’t enter the Temple for over a decade because of purity laws. But at the touch of Yeshua, she was made clean. It was a taste of what was to come. Yeshua’s sacrificial death would clear out the purity laws so that ALL who sought YHWH could enter freely into His throne room and see Him, face to face. Because of Yeshua, we were worthy to enter God’s throne room.

The Robe, Dipped in Blood

There is an odd passage in Isaiah that talked about a garment dipped in blood:

Isaiah 63:1-6

Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments [b’gadim] of glowing colours from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength?

“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” 

Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments [u-v’gadeka] like the one who treads in the wine press? 

“I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments [b’gadai], and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me. I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

Essentially this garment was soaked in the history of humanity, and that history had been, primarily, treacherous. This garment symbolically stood as an item that represented death and life. It was YHWH that took out the Edomites in this story, but that was due to centuries of human history soaked in blood and death because of the human desire to try to be gods themselves. The Adversary who loved death and chaos, seemed to have the upper hand in the battle for souls, but YHWH, who loved life and order, had a plan for redemption. He would buy back His people in the most extraordinary way:

Revelation 19:11-16

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

John was reaching back to Isaiah and announcing that Yeshua, the Word of God, would be the triumphant sacrificial lamb who would restore order to humanity and open up the choice of eternal life to all who chose to accept the gift. His army (or followers) were clothed in fine linen, white and cleanno longer were their garments filthy, but they had been washed clean, as white as snow.

Garments in the Trial and Execution of Yeshua

In his vision John boldly proclaimed that Yeshua was the Messiah. His life, trial and execution fulfilled the Messianic passages in the Tanakh. During the Passover, Yeshua’s final week, there were two interesting references to garments.

Shortly after Yeshua commemorated his last supper, the Passover meal, with his friends, he was betrayed. And just as was foretold (Psalm 31:11, John 16:32), all his disciples would abandon him at the critical moment.

Mark 14:43-52

Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. They laid hands on Him and seized Him. But one of those, who stood by, drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” And they all left Him and fled.

A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.

Yeshua was abandoned. All his disciples left him to escape the wrath of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman political authorities. To drive the point home, Mark mentioned one young follower of Yeshua who was caught, but escaped out of their grip by freeing himself of his clothing. In his nakedness he was vulnerable and exposed, literally and metaphorically. We do not know which disciple this was, whether he was one of the twelve, or one of the many others who followed him, but he was the only one seized, besides Yeshua. He opted to drop his garment and flee naked, rather than suffer alongside Yeshua. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, we would probably do the same.

Yeshua’s arrest, Jewish trial, Roman trial, and execution fulfilled Hebrew scripture prophecy about the Messiah to the letter. Psalm 22, which highlighted the great suffering of the future Messianic king, also spoke about His garments:

Psalm 22:14-19

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments [b-gadai] among them, and for my clothing [l’vooshi] they cast lots. But You, O YHWH, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance.

Yeshua’s execution was brutal and horrific, but it did not stray from any of the prophetic Messianic writings found in the Tanakh:

Luke 23:33-38

When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Messiah of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

John continued the story:

John 19:28-30

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Yeshua only allowed himself to escape the pain once everything was accomplished and fulfilled. Even the littlest detail (branch of hyssop) was a fulfilment of Scripture:

Psalm 51:7-10

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

To the ancient Israelites it was the death of the sacrificial lamb that ceremonially cleansed a person. Yeshua, as the final sacrificial lamb, brought salvation to all humanity, by completely cleansing us. Our sin no longer chained us; death could not hold us down; we were cleansed by His blood, and set free.

In John’s vision, all of the Messiah’s followers were clothed in fine linen, white and clean (Revelation 19:14)  because they had been washed in the blood of the Lamb. It’s an odd, and perhaps disturbing, vision, but the idea is this: once you accept the gift of life that YHWH offers, your garment will never be filthy again. You’re cleansed once and forever… and when you take your final breath, you will enter His throne room and come face to face with your Creator ONLY because Jesus paid the entrance fee.

Ezekiel 37:23b

I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

I leave you with these thoughts from an old hymn written by Presbyterian minister Elisha Hoffman in 1878:

Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the lamb?

Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?

Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

Next week: Garden

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