Hem

The classic instance of the use of "hem" in the New Testament is Mt 9:20 the King James Version (compare Mt 14:36), where the woman "touched the hem of his (Christ’s) garment." The reference is to the fringe or tassel with its traditional blue thread which the faithful Israelite was directed to wear on the corners of the outer garment (Nu 15:37 ff; De 22:12). Great importance came to be attached to it, the ostentatious Pharisees making it very broad or large (Mt 23:5). Here the woman clearly thought there might be peculiar virtue in touching the tassel or fringe of Jesus’ garment. Elsewhere the word is rendered BORDER (which see).

See also DRESS; FRINGES.

Additional Material


Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their false display of piety by lengthening the tassels on their hems (Matt 23:5). However, the hem or fringe of Jesus’ garment plays an important role with the hemorrhaging woman who believed that she would be healed if she could but touch His hem. Jesus responded to her faith and granted her request (Luke 8:43-48).