The Only Woman in the Bible Jesus Called “Daughter”

Posted on May 19, 2019

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By David Ettinger

(Note: This post is about “the woman with the issue of blood.” You may read her account here.)

The story of the “Woman with the issue of blood” is an important one in Scripture, evidenced by the fact that three of the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell it.

So, who is this woman whose story has captivated Bible readers for centuries?

saint

Her Physical Condition
Though some commentators attribute her bleeding to hemophilia, the overwhelming majority identify it as menstrual. The woman’s condition is likely what is today called “uterine fibroids” – benign tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the uterus. Today, this condition is considered routine, but in biblical days had no cure.

Also, because her symptoms lasted 12 years, it is obvious her bleeding was not heavy. A large loss of blood would have killed her. Still, her condition was serious. If it were enough of a blood loss to create anemia, she would have been pale, lacked the normal stamina of someone her age, and would have been persistently tired. The bleeding would have lowered her iron level, which would have drained her of energy.

Her Social Status
Obviously, such a condition was not rare, as the Old Testament speaks of it. The book of Leviticus tells us:

When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening (15:25-27).

Such restrictions would have rendered the woman a social leper. After all, if anyone touched anything she touched, that person, too, would be considered unclean. Being unclean meant, for one thing, that the synagogue was off-limits. Beyond being the religious center of a town, the synagogue was also the social hub, hosting civic meetings, weddings, festivities, and even legal trials. To be banned from the synagogue was to be rejected from all social and public gatherings.

ruined-tamar

The woman with the issue of blood would also have been barred from the marketplace because merchants and patrons would be loath to handle anything she handled. Also, merchants could not have accepted her money because she had touched it and made it unclean. If a merchant became unclean, he could not work at his booth until the uncleanness passed.

And consider those living with her – kisses and hugs were out of the question! Nor could family members sit on the same couch or bed as her without themselves becoming unclean. Avoiding this would have been impossible. There could well have been a point where this poor woman was forced to live alone in a separate house, isolated from all she loved.

It would have been a miserable existence.

A New Hope
Then, one day she heard stories about the Rabbi from Nazareth and how He healed the blind, deaf, mute, and paralyzed, and even raised the dead! In desperation, the woman with the issue of blood resolved to seek out the Rabbi.

Because the crowds were so large, she determined not to speak to Him, fearing having to expose her shame before many strangers. Instead, believing Jesus could help her, she decided to touch the hem of His garment. So, maneuvering through the large crowd – and making everyone she touched unclean! – the woman finally reached Jesus. Considering her lack of energy, she must have been exhausted by this time, but knowing this would be her only opportunity to be healed, she reached out, touched Jesus’ garment, and was cured!

silver cross

An Encounter with the Savior
When Jesus inquired as to who touched Him, the woman was silent – she dreaded revealing her condition. Jesus, however, insisted: He wanted to have personal interaction with the person whom He had just healed.

Though fearful, the woman revealed herself and explained her condition.

Was Jesus angry with her for “sneaking up” on Him? Hardly. In fact, He told her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” We can only imagine the warmth, love, and compassion in Jesus’ voice as He spoke these words. Did He love this outcast woman? You bet He did! She is the only woman in the Bible Jesus is recorded as having addressed as “Daughter.”

How her spirit must have soared! The woman with the issue blood awoke that morning as a social reject, but went to bed that evening as a daughter of the Messiah!