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The Healing Touch
The English word "touch" originated from a French word, toucher, the pronunciation of which is familiar to many English-speaking people from the fencing saying, too-shay, which is called out when a fencer is touched by the sword (the term also found itself into the language of debate to acknowledge a good counter-argument). In English, "touch" generally means to make physical contact with someone or something.
The Hebrew word most-often translated as "touch" is pronounced naw-gawh; it means to reach, as to touch. The Greek word most-often translated as "touch" (see also Translation Of Translations) is pronounced hap-tom-ahee; it means to attach, as to touch.
Jesus Christ healed people with touch, which, as we read, worked both ways. Sometimes people were healed by the Messiah touching the person, but sometimes the healing happened by the person touching Him, sometimes even without Him knowing it - which reveals that the healing was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit answering the faith of the person who believed that the healing would happen.
"20:34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight" (Matthew 20:34 KJV)
"The whole multitude sought to touch Him: for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all"
Faith was required by the person being healed, but it would seem that Christ Himself had faith that, not only would the person be healed, but that He would not become ill Himself. The people of ancient times were well-aware that some illnesses were very infectious (as the LORD instructed them in Leviticus e.g. chapters 13 and 14) - and leprosy was perhaps the most feared of them all. But the Christ touched lepers - who were made clean by the healing, while He stayed clean during and after touching them (some, including this writer, are of the opinion that such healings may have occurred a brief instant before, or at least the same instant as, the touch happened, not as much to keep Christ from becoming sick, but so as not to become defiled, in accordance with "5:3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty" Leviticus 5:3 KJV).
"8:2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Sometimes, the person was touched on the afflicted part of the body (i.e. on the eyes for blind people, on the ears for deaf people, see below), but in the case of Peter's mother-in-law who was suffering from a fever, He touched her hand.
"8:14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. 8:15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them." (Matthew 8:14-15 KJV)
In this example, The Messiah touched the eyes of blind men, while saying to them that they would be healed "according to your faith."
"9:27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.
In the same way, a deaf and dumb man was healed with touches to his ears and tongue.
"7:32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
There were times when the Messiah healed His disciples of fear with a touch, "Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid."
"17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
The Messiah blessed little children with a righteous touch, perhaps as a little advance healing of the carnal behavior that would inflict them as adults, for "whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."
"10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16 KJV)
Healings weren't limited to the living. The Messiah healed a dead man by touching the bier.
"7:12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
One of the most famous healing touches that the Messiah did was the servant of the high priest, after Peter "cut off his right ear" while trying to defend the King (an incident that reveals that Peter was likely left-handed; see Malchus).
"22:50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
Many people were also healed by touching Him, specifically "the hem of his garment" or "the border of his garment" (see the Fact Finder question below).
"14:35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 14:36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole." (Matthew 14:35-36 KJV) "6:56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole." (Mark 6:56 KJV)
Some people were healed without the Messiah being immediately aware of it, by touching "his garment."
"5:25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 5:26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 5:28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 5:29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
The healing was done by the Holy Spirit, the "virtue" that went "out of him, and healed them all."
"6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all." (Luke 6:19 KJV)
Fact Finder: What is actually meant by "the hem of his garment" (e.g. Matthew 14:36 KJV)?