Two Daughters and the Number Twelve
This lesson is taken from Mark chapter five and concerns two daughters. One had an issue of blood for twelve years, whom Jesus referred to as "daughter"; the other was Jairus' twelve-year-old daughter, who was initially ill but had died before Jesus had arrived to heal her.
We will study the significance and the connection between these two daughters and their interweaving stories and take a look at the number twelve as it relates to the entire chapter and the one before it.
At first glance, it appears that these are merely lovely stories about what Jesus did for two people, but a closer look at the details of these narratives will reveal a much larger story.
The Hebrew language will be an assistant to our study of the number twelve for this lesson.
Hebrew, the language in which most of the Old Testament was written, was once a pictograph language. Each letter was symbolized by an image that illustrated the concepts of words.
The imaging method God built into the language of Hebrew helps with keeping the concepts of a particular word's meaning consistent and stable. Most of the letter icons centered around agriculture and biology, which change very little over time, making them relatable to all generations.
With that said, I would like to look at the twelfth letter of Hebrew aleph-bet's pictograph, as it concerns the number twelve in our story.
Lamed—the Twelfth Letter
It is no coincidence that the woman with the issue of blood had been ill for twelve years, and the little girl who died was twelve years old. There is nothing in Scripture that is without significance.
"Lamed" is the Twelfth letter of the Hebrew Alef-Bet and can offer us a bit of revelation about the number twelve and its relationship to this study.
"Lamed," pictographically speaking, is represented by a shepherds staff and symbolizes both teaching and authority. Both of these are relevant to all of the events in chapters four and five of the book of Mark.
"Lamed" in this respect points to God's governing authority in the earth, as does the number twelve.
To break this down a bit further, twelve is the product of four times three. The number four in Scripture categorizes things that have to do with the kingdoms and processes of the physical created realm—the number Three concerns the kingdoms and realities of the spiritual realm and its operations. Therefore the number twelve (3x4) is about God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24) establishing His Kingdom in the earth. He instructed His twelve disciples to bring the kingdom of heaven to the earth in the prayer that He taught them.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
— Matthew 6:10
Bullinger also makes these observations concerning God establishing His kingdom in the earth through mortal created men as expressed with the number twelve.
There were twelve patriarchs from Seth to Noah, twelve from Shem to Jacob, twelve sons of Israel, twelve judges, twelve apostles/disciples. Twelve persons in the Old Testament were anointed (spiritually empowered and appointed) as priests and or kings. Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar, Saul, David, Absalom, Solomon, Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz. All human agents that God chose to work through in establishing His (heavenly) kingdom on earth.
Notably, Jesus was twelve years old when He stayed behind at the temple, rather than following Mary and Joseph, his earthly parents, home.
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
— Luke 2:46
Jews of this period believed that the age of accountability was twelve, which makes this number significant to the text. Jesus, at the age of twelve, placed Himself under the teaching and authority of His Father God, choosing to be governed by Him.
Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
— Luke 2:49
Teaching and Authority
Mark chapter four that contains the preceding events of our study, opens with Jesus teaching a parable. It ends with a display of His authority over the raging storm encountered by His twelve disciples at sea. His disciples acknowledge His authority in the following verse.
“Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
— Mark 4:41
Mark, chapter five, began with another display of authority when Jesus and His disciples arrived at the other side of the lake after surviving the storm. When they reached their destination, they encountered a man possessed with an evil spiritual condition. Jesus, once again, displayed His authority when He commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man. The evil spirits recognized Jesus and His rightful rule, as they beg Him to allow them to enter the nearby herd of swine rather than to be sent out into the wastelands. The evil legion of spirits needed permission to do what they did.
Jesus gave them permission . . .
— Mark 5:13
The account of the storm shows Jesus's legal rightful authority over created things.
The Lord rules supreme in heaven, greater than the roar of the ocean, more powerful than the waves of the sea.
— Psalm 93:4
The account of the man with spirits shows His legal authority in the spirit realm, as was recognized by the unclean spirits themselves.
. . . the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.
— Mark 3:11
The number twelve, referring to the two daughters, indicates a lesson involving Jesus's authority over both physical and spiritual matters in both of these overlapping narratives concerning them.
A.B Simpson agrees in his comments on this portion of Scripture in his book "Christ in the Bible" commentary about these next two events.
"Every instant He is intensely occupied with the government of the universe and the care of His people."
Back to Mark chapter five, Jesus returned from the other side of the sea after taking authority over the storm (the natural realm) and the legion of demons (the spiritual realm). He was met by a synagogue official named Jairus, who fell at the feet of Jesus, begging Him to come to his house so that Jesus might touch and heal his twelve-year-old daughter who was about to die.
Jairus is a synagogue official and a man of authority. He subjugates himself to Jesus by falling at His feet in acknowledgment that He is a rightful ruler over his problem. He believes that Jesus has the power, privilege, and jurisdiction to help him. Falling on one's face is a posture of worship, as well as submission to one who was superior. Abraham gives us a demonstration.
. . . the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face . . .
— Genesis 17:3
Recognizing and acknowledging Christ's authority is the key to faith. God is not a mystical, magical force. God always follows the laws and logic of how He designed all things to function. Our understanding and submission to Him in all things is a necessary element to faith.
King of Kings
When God, the creator-king of all the universe, created earth and man, His purpose was to design a vassal kingdom that imaged the heavenly one in which He reigns. The created kingdom was only truly functional when operating in submission to the already set forth laws and principles founded in God's righteous ways.
Adam was the earth's first king, and He was granted jurisdiction over earth's domain along with the living things in it in a mandate provided in Genesis.
“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
— Genesis 1:28
"Subdue" and "have dominion" in the above verse are terms used by a governing king in his kingdom.
When Adam failed the "submission to God" test, he essentially became subject to the kingdom he chose to obey, thereby forfeited his rights and privileges of the first kingdom. It makes sense and seems only fair that God's kingdom rights and privileges are not functional in the hands of darkness, nor are they to operate outside His domain.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
— Romans 6:16
Subsequently, this decision was an epigenetic one. It disqualified any human stemming from Adam from the eligibility to rule.
Dominion, authority, and power from above, as it concerned man, had to come from a man who was qualified to exhibit the Kingdom because of His rightful connection with the heavenly Kingdom. Jesus was the only one qualified to reconnect the authority of heaven on the earth.
Jairus, a man well aware of religious legalities, knew that only one who was righteous would be authorized to grant His request. His faith was in the fact that Christ was qualified and able to deliver.
When Jairus makes his appeal to the "King of Kings," it was considered an act of worship, as is recorded in Matthew's account of this story. Matthew incidentally portrays Jesus as a king.
" . . . a ruler (Jairus) came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”
— Matthew 9:18
The Bible seems to illustrate, in many different ways, that there is a kingdom protocol. The protocol doesn't demand a ritual. Instead, it asks for an expression of faith in the only one who can do anything about it.
Woman With the Issue
As Jesus moved through a pressing crowd to go with Jairus to his house, they were interrupted by a woman who had bled for twelve years. This woman had suffered many treatments by all of the authorities of medicine. She had spent all of her money and was made even worse.
Her bleeding made her ceremonially unclean and, therefore, not allowed to touch anyone, let alone a holy man. She illustrates for us what sin does in making us unclean and isolating us from God and others. The context of this discussion is discovered in the Old Testament Levitical laws. Young's Literal Translation helps us understand that the issue is with the flesh.
And when a woman hath an issue—blood is her issue in her flesh—seven days she is in her separation, and any one who is coming against her is unclean till the evening.
— Leviticus 15:19
Sin is an issue of blood because life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), as is represented by the woman with the issue of blood. According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death, as is represented by the dying girl. Just as it is with sin, there is no human cure, and human help can sometimes do more damage than good.
Why did Jesus call her out? Could it be because a blessing isn't a blessing without Jesus? Maybe we find a way to get what we want or think we need in life, but without acknowledging the source, what is the point?
. . . he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
— John 10:1
The Hem of His Garment
In her desperation, the woman with the issue of blood reached through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' garment, as Matthew writes to his Jewish audience. In some commentaries, this hem is thought to have been the tassels or fringes of a particular garment worn by Jewish men. The tassels were a reminder to those in covenant with God to remember their loyalty to Him by obeying His righteous rules. Obedience, consequently, entitled them to the blessings of God.
“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. 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, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.
— Numbers 15:38-40
Both this woman and Jairus knew that Jesus' righteousness qualified Him to be the only One who could bring forth these heavenly kingdom provisions of the covenant.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings (the tassels of the garment). You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
— Malachi 4:2
John Gill makes this similar connection when he writes the following.
it (ones faith) lays hold on the robe of Christ's righteousness, and the garments of his salvation; or, in other words, thus reasons with himself: though I am such a vile, sinful unrighteous, and impotent creature, yet surely in the Lord there is righteousness and strength, if I can but by faith lay hold thereon; though it be but in a weak way, only by a touch and in a trembling manner; I shall be justified from all things, I could not be justified by all the works of righteousness I have been doing, and that evidentially and comfortably; and therefore I will venture and draw nigh unto him, and though he slay me I will trust in him; I will throw off my own filthy rags of righteousness; I will make mention of, and lay hold on his righteousness, and that only; he shall be my salvation. And such an one finds, as this woman afterwards did, a perfect cure, cleansing from all sin, a free and full forgiveness of it, and complete justification from it.
The hem or fringe of this ancient garment also identified someone with status and authority, such as kings and priests. The garment was also symbolically understood to represent where the physical realm met the spirit realm.
The first two miracles of the storm and demons demonstrate Christ's authority. The "two daughters" narratives demonstrate His right to do so on the earth.
All four stories combined give us four areas over which Christ has authority (Nature, spirit, sin/sickness, and death).
Jesus Calls Her "Daughter"
Another significant and tender note worth mentioning concerning the woman with the issue is that Jesus calls her "daughter." She is the only woman in Scripture who He addresses as such.
In Biblical thought, to be called "daughter" is closely connected to the idea of being the apple of one's eye. The literal definition of "pupil" in Hebrew is expressed as the daughter of the eye. Its relationship has to do with the vulnerability of this body part and how closely it is guarded and protected.
To be a daughter was attached to the idea of being precious, cherished, and protected. It also is relative to being in such a close relationship that we can see our reflection in another's eye.
A more in-depth look at this draws a lesson about Jesus' focus on her faith.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well.
— Mark 5:34
Although the text does not explicitly say this, some commentaries suggest that this woman may have very well been a Gentile and thereby not entitled to the blessings of the covenant, recall what Jesus told another Gentile woman.
“Let the children (Israel-covenant ones) be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs (gentiles-outside of the covenant).”
— Mark 7:27
She represents the Gentiles who had no relationship with God and were thereby entitled to nothing of the things of God. Yet just like the woman referred to as a dog, she became qualified through her faith in Jesus Christ, and He granted her the blessing.
How does this relate to a faith/legal perspective and being called a daughter? Recall God's promise to Abraham of many descendants (sons and daughters).
I will multiply your descendants as the stars (Hebrew word, in its numeric representation, divisible by 3 - spirit) of the heaven (those who come to God by faith) and as the sand (Hebrew word, in its numeric representation, divisible by 4 -natural) which is on the seashore (Physical descendants);
— Genesis 22:17
How did Abraham become privileged to this blessing?
Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
— Romans 4:3
What specifically was Abraham's faith in that qualified him?
“My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
— Genesis 22:8
How did Abraham exhibit this faith?
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said,“In Isaac your seed shall be called,”concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead
— Hebrews 11:17-19
How is that applied to us?
only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham
— Galatians 3:7
Who and in what is our faith?
God's one and only Son who died for us! Just like Abraham.
Many of us are familiar with the song "Father Abraham," sung by little children in Sunday school. The song declares that "Father Abraham" had many sons and goes on to sing that "I am one of them, and so are you" I always ask my Sunday school kids, "what does it mean to be one of Abrahams's sons"? And the answer I am hoping to hear is that "we are Abraham's sons and heirs according to the promise when we believe God as Abraham did" Could this be what Jesus is referring to when Jesus calls her daughter in the making much of her faith?
The Narrative's Combined Lesson
Here are some final observations from both of our examples. We saw that desperation could be a prelude to faith in Christ, our one and the only hope of salvation, as did both the woman with the issue of blood and the synagogue ruler.
. . . he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
— Hebrews 11:6
The phrase (diligently seek) in the above verse means to require as a necessity and to demand. It implies a powerful intentional search. It is a faith like Jacob's who wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord and declared
“I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
— Genesis 32:26
As a synagogue ruler, the man in our lesson could have faced a considerable loss of reputation for seeking Jesus, considering the religious rulers' attitude at the time. The woman risked possible punishment for putting others at risk for her uncleanness. Both had one thing in mind—they needed to get to Jesus.
In the case of the woman, her faith was seeded by "hearing about Jesus."
. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
— Romans 10:17
She gives us such a beautiful example of how faith works. Matthew tells us that she kept saying to herself, "If I just touch His garments." What if she said, "it's no use," I've tried that before," "It's too hard"?
When we are in that place of need and desperation, are we determined to find and believe in the righteousness, authority, and power of Jesus Christ and touch the covenant promises He has secured for us? What is it that we think and say to ourselves, and who is it that we listen to? The encouragement is to press through the thoughts that "crowd" out and distract our faith.
Jairus gives us a lesson concerning another necessary element of faith, and that is humility. Jairus was a religious ruler and could have entitled himself to be more deserving of a miracle than the questionable woman who was unclean and didn't even ask. Can you imagine this unclean, possibly gentile woman is coming to sneak a blessing from Jesus, and here is Jairus, a devout religious ruler following all the rules? There was no room for entitlement. He could not afford for pride to destroy what he knew as his only source and chance of hope. He had to trust Jesus when He said.
"Don't be afraid, only believe."
— Mark 5:36
Is Jesus our only source of hope that we are willing to lay down all pride rights and entitlements for?
Both the woman and the girl are unnamed, possibly letting us know that.
. . . whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
— Romans 10:13
Lastly, why did Jesus allow this interruption when something so desperate as possible death was waiting in the wings? If we look at the spiritual component of this story, it might demonstrate that the issue of blood, representing sin, had to be dealt with before there could be a resurrection from death. Whether seemingly right, religious ruler, or random sinful gentile, all must have the issue of sin dealt with.
I conclude with a bonus revelation concerning this account that is somewhat prophetic.
It has been suggested that the little girl depicts Israel, and the Gentile woman portrays the church. As God saves the "whosever's" (Gentiles) who will come to Him by faith, Israel dies (the diaspora), but when the issue of blood is dealt with on behalf of all humankind, both Jew and Gentile. She (the Jewish nation) is raised to life once again. This event has already occurred in the natural as the nation was raised from the dead in 1948.
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