Two Daughters

This is a fictional story inspired by a true story. Names and other elements have been added or changed. Refer to the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43 for the true account.

Talitha and Priscilla were pregnant together. But in all other respects they were set apart from each other.

Talitha’s husband was a dishonorable man, who left her for a second wife. Priscilla’s husband was no such thing. Jairus was his name, a prominent Pharisee of the synagogue in Jerusalem.

These women chanced to meet, and shared the joy of pregnancy during the Feast of Weeks. They laughed together when their babies kicked. They joked together about mens’ ineptness regarding the mysteries of pregnancy. However, nine months later, as Priscilla celebrated the birth of her beautiful daughter, Yadidah, Talitha mourned the stillbirth of her little girl, Abadi. Priscilla’s daughter grew healthy and strong. After delivery of the dead child, Talitha was plagued with a disorder which caused her to bleed constantly. The two women never met again, but Jairus had the regular task of clearing the temple of unclean people, one of whom was Talitha herself.

She begged for mercy at the synagogue. She begged for money in the streets. She became an outcast. Her bleeding made her unclean. Her bareness made her un-marry-able. Both curses testified against her before the Pharisees. In the eyes of her people, the only explanation for such suffering must be her sin.

Twelve years went by. Despite good health, Jairus’ daughter, Yadidah, now lay sick in bed. In fact she was on the verge of death when her father was called away to bury a prominent man from the towns around Jerusalem. It was at the end of his period of uncleanness, when Jairus’ servants reported that his daughter would not live another day. That’s when he finally sought out the Teacher. This Yeshua was the leader of a controversial new sect known as The Way. This man, known to be a miracle worker, was constantly accused of blaspheme among Jairus’ fellow Pharisees. But in a moment of desperation, Jairus, now the ruler of the synagogue, approached the Teacher in a crowd.

It was on this same day that Talitha was also driven to the Healer. She had learned to clear the path whenever a crowd came her way. Her voice was hoarse from twelve years of calling out “unclean”, warning others not to touch her. But in a moment of desperation, she too waded into the multitude, defiling many, just to touch the hem of his cloak.

But before she could reach him, Jairus, who was also there, spoke up above the murmur of the mob. He fell at the Teacher’s feet and pleaded, “My little daughter is dying! Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live!” Jairus was a companion of those who were plotting this Rabbi’s death. The Teacher seemed to look straight through him, seemed to read him like an unsealed scroll. But nonetheless, the Teacher went with him.

It was while the crowd was pressing in and moving with Yeshua, that Talitha forced her way through, straining to get closer to the Healer. The condemning voices of countless physicians were ringing in her ears like barking dogs nipping at her heels, driving her forward. At their hands, her bleeding had only worsened. It was a growing shadow cast by the painful memory of her stillborn child. The shadow now grew darker as deep red dusk settled over her burned-down life. Finally, the tip of her finger brushed the fabric of the Healer’s cloak, and like a rushing wind, or splashing headlong into a stream warmed by the sun, she could feel in her body that she was healed! Immediately, her bleeding stopped. And so did the Healer!

“Who touched my clothes?” he called out, looking around him. His disciples replied,

“You see the people crowding around you. What do you mean ‘who touched me’?”

Jairus who had been leading the group toward his home halted and began to shiver with anxiety. He dared not interrupt the Teacher, but there was no time to delay! His eyes just darted back and forth between the searching face of Yeshua, and the road ahead. But the Teacher just kept looking around, intent on finding this mystery person. Had he so quickly forgotten his mission? Didn’t he care that a daughter’s life was at stake? Was he oblivious to the suffering of a child of Abraham? And just as Jairus began walking back toward him a woman threw herself at the Teacher’s feet. It was Talitha, the beggar, whom God had cursed for her unconfessed sin. As she knelt there trembling, Jairus’ impatience and indignation swelled and he thought, “How dare she defile all these people with her uncleanness. Let the Teacher purge this woman from among us, so that we may be on our way.” Many in the crowd recognized this woman as the bleeding beggar, and stepped back, for fear of being tainted.

Yeshua looked around at their faces, and then fixed his eyes on Jairus. The ruler of the synagogue could not hold the sternness in his eyebrows under the gaze of this man. His heart sank as his thoughts were forced back upon his little daughter. He realized his powerlessness over this man, whose power seemed limitless and free. Then the Teacher’s eyes descended on the woman as she confessed her uncleanness and how she had pressed through the crowd just to touch his garment. She pleaded and groveled, with tears in the dust. Then, just loud enough for Jairus to hear, the Teacher said,

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” What? Not a word of shame for her shameful behavior? Not a hint of reproach for her soiling his coat with her uncleanness? Was this man impervious to impurity? While Yeshua was still speaking, a hand touched Jairus on the shoulder. It was one of his servants. She spoke with a voice cracked from weeping,

“Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” Jairus felt as if all the air had been drawn from his lungs and all the strength drained from his legs. His face flushed and his eyes burned, brimming with unquenchable tears. But before he could slump to the ground, or tear his clothes, the burning eyes of the Healer caught him and seemed to prop him up like a pair of crutches,

“Don’t be afraid. Just believe,” he said firmly. Jairus was taken aback. Could this Teacher really be the Healer they say? Can any healer do his work after death has done his?

Yeshua dispersed the crowd except for three of his closest followers, and they made for Jairus’ house, ignoring the words of the servant. When they arrived, the mourners had already gathered and were making an uproar.

“Why all this commotion and wailing?” The Healer said, “The girl is not dead but asleep”. Jairus was torn between embarrassment and a fool’s hope. Why would the Rabbi shame himself with such an ignorant declaration? What does he intend to accomplish now that she is dead? But Yeshua dispersed this crowd just as he had the last crowd. Then he called Jairus and his wife Priscilla to the girl’s bedside. He allowed his disciples to stand at the back of the room.

Priscilla wiped her cheeks and held her breath. Jairus clasped his wife’s hand in disbelief as the Healer reached out and touched the lifeless hand of their daughter’s corpse. That is when he abandoned the language of the Greeks and spoke softly in the mother tongue of this family, “Little girl. I say to you, get up!” Again, it seemed as if defilement was turned back on itself at the touch of this mysterious man. Not even the filth of a dead body could contaminate him!

The mother and father staggered to their knees as the girl rose to her feet! Then with faltering breath and wails of relief they pulled her close and embraced her.

Yadidah, like Talitha was healed that day. Both were daughters of Abraham, redeemed from Sheol. The Healer brought them back from the outer darkness, to the warm light of life. And Jairus was never the same.

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