Talitha Cumi — A Heavenly Language?

Question from a Site Viewer

And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
Mark 5:41 (KJV)

I think that Jesus said “talitha cumi” through the Spirit or in tongues. If this was normal Greek or Hebrew why did they go to such lengths to tell us what it meant? Jesus, being filled with the Spirit without measure, surely also spoke to God in His heavenly language.

Peter, James and John were with Him. So one or all three told this story to Mark. So why did they not just say, “Damsel arise”? Perhaps it’s because they did not know what the words meant. But they must have figured it meant “Damsel arise,” as that is what happened.

The above is what my spirit has led me to believe and that has been on my mind and I thought you might have an answer.

Tim’s Answer
Thanks for your question about Mark 5:41. You question whether the words “talitha cumi” were words from a heavenly language that was translated for us. While your intuition is intriguing, there is another explanation that may be simpler and, I think, more likely.

There is another passage in the book of Mark where we have the actual words of Christ spoken, and then the author gives us the translation.

In the other passage, Mark 15:34, we have the Christ quoting Psalm 22:1 in Aramaic. Aramaic was a common language known to the Jews in the area. There remains some dispute as to whether it was the primary language of the Jews at that time (the movie “The Passion” is spoken in Aramaic based on the prevalent view among scholars that Aramaic was the language Christ would have spoken; however, given the prevalence of Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the issue is not fully settled). But it seems certain that the Jews in Galilee and Jerusalem would have known Aramaic. In fact, Peter was called “Cephas,” an Aramaic name.

When we look at the words in Mark 5:41, we find that they also form an Aramaic phrase. The Aramaic feminine noun meaning a young woman (talitha) and the imperative form of “to stand” (cumi) form this phrase.

Parts of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic, such as Daniel chapters 2-6 and parts of Ezra. There are also Aramaic phrases and words scattered in other books of the Old Testament. Perhaps the earliest direct reference to Aramaic in Scripture is in 2 Kings 18:26 where King Hezekiah asks Rabshakeh to speak in Aramaic and not Hebrew so that those who dwelt in Jerusalem at the time of the Assyrian siege (around 720 B.C.) would not understand.

After Judah was taken captive to Babylon in 586 B.C., they lived in a country and among a people who spoke Aramaic. When they came back from captivity, Aramaic remained a common language of the area. Even after the time of Jesus, one of the great Jewish writings, the Talmud, known as the Babylonian Talmud, was written in Aramaic.

So, given that the phrase is an Aramaic phrase and given the parallels we find between this passage and Mark 15:34, it is more likely that the author was simply providing for the Greek readers (the book of Mark was originally written in Greek) the actual Aramaic words spoken by Jesus.

We have a similar situation in John 20:16, where Mary Magdalene greets Christ and says “Rabboni,” which the author translates for us as “Teacher.” There, the word is a Hebrew word. We are left with the same question we have in Mark 5:41. Why did the author use this formulation rather than simply say that she turned and said “Teacher”? But in each of these instances, these words represented actual languages that would have been known to those listening, though not necessarily known to the Greek readers of the books.

I trust the Lord Jesus will continue to lead and guide your life as you seek to follow Him in truth and love.

a fellow pilgrim,


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Talitha Cumi

30 thoughts on “Talitha Cumi — A Heavenly Language?”

  1. I was just watching a Hebrew modern film called Tehilimm and a teenage boy said to his mom as she was taking a nap……..”cumi, cumi” and the subtittles translated as Mom get up………..so cumi is still being used today. It was not Jesus heavenly language

    1. Peace be with my brothers the problem really is in the fact that Christ is saying these words this situation really relies on the fact that is specified it when it doesn’t need to be specified, because it’s being translated into English already. I think that’s where the problem comes In. Just like there’s a verse in the Bible in the book of mark 15:34 where Christ says “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani” when we are already reading the translation in English from Hebrew or Greek. So in that sense there really isn’t any need for those specific words in any point in the Bible to be translated when it’s already in a version of translation. Amen

  2. Reading the complete Mark 5:21-43 and the story of St. Agnes will help put everything in perspective. Watching the Exorcist couldn’t hurt either.

  3. The perception of the person who asked this question is indeed of the spirit, when reading the bible do not rely on your human intellect and create formulas so as to know exactly what was happening in a particular event in the bible. The bible is written in the form of parables and only those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ and are attentive to the revelation and insight he gives through the Holy Ghost can decode those coded parables. Rely on the spirit of God for revelation, not on what you can find out by research. yet I’m not saying we should argue about this, I’m just concerned for my fellow brethren in Christ. Shalom

    1. Samuel, I agree.
      I have a question-
      Was The Book of Mark written in Greek? Why would it have to have been? Wasn’t it written by Mark? And wasn’t he a Jew? Wouldn’t he have written it in Hebrew?

    2. Although I agree that reading the Bible only through rationalist western lens will serve us poorly. The idea that “research” is a substandard method to discover truth is contradictory to the Old Testament, New Testament, and for the last 1900 years of church tradition.

    3. Deuteronomy 11:18-23 tells us to teach and talk with our children at home and on the roads. We as parents have an obligation to help teach the word. Interpreting is not solely the jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit.

      In addition, Peter, James, and Paul referenced the book of Enoch and other non-scriptures 2nd temple books. This shows that non-biblical writings informed them

      In short, read the Bible and when something does not compute, find strong theologians to help guide. God gave us profits, apostles, and teachers through history and today.

  4. I enjoyed the question and even more so the explanation. Lets continue to build each other up in love, especially in the times we live in. Love God, Love people.

  5. According to Jewish Talmud, ‘Talitha Cumi” shows clearly Jesus was a magician and speakimng to Beelzebub. Ido not lknow if Talmud can be trusted. Because, the holy book of Jews, the talmud, says jesus was a bastard blasphemer who sits in a bucket of boiling excrement in hell for ever. it also says, His mother Mary was a prostitute and his father was a roman soldier named Pantera.

    1. Bartholomew. Kindly be mindful of your words. The Bible records instances when people called Jesus a blashphemer. On one occasion, Jesus said this in Matthew 12:22-31. Unfortunately, the blog won’t allow me to post much. But kindly check the scriptures out. The peace of God continually be with you. Amen

    2. I have never heard such disgusting blasphemy by a people, there are some sins that are not forgivable, one is blaspheme. It is our knowledge and belief that the Messiah, the Christ was holy, He lived and died for your unholy words, beliefs and deeds, your sin which is very clear. If the Talmud states such blasphemy, I would burn that book if I were you, for it is a path that will lead you to not only a spiritual death here on earth, but an eternal torment

    3. It is quite unfortunate that the “so called” Jews follow such a disgusting book of teachings. The Messiah, the Christ lived and died for your despicable sins. No wonder the world is so sick and their practices are so abominable. Unfortunately, those following these teachings will be the ones boiling in excrement and hell

  6. Why do I understand what it means? I am ethiopian and speak amharic. Tal’itha cumi means my sister arise that is: itha means my sister, it is feminine and cumi means arise which is also feminine verb.

    1. Liyu,
      That is so cool. I am a Greek Orthodox Christian and understand there is a strong community of Orthodox Christians in Ethiopa. Regardless, thank you for your insight.

  7. It is common aramaic and not something mystical. Why did they translate it specifically? Because it could mean, girl maiden damsel or anything referring to a young lady or girl. Just clarification of he context.

  8. Hello Tim! I like your explanation and thank you for the insight you gave with regard to the question because I had the same question myself. I was wondering as well if there is a scripture to where the term “Talitha koum/Talitha Cumi” is translated by the author anywhere? I’m searching to figure out where and if it was ever interpreted by Peter, James, John, or Jesus as well at any point? If so, could you let me know I would greatly appreciate it! And thank you again for your answer!

  9. hello Brothers in Christ. just leaving my two cents in this. my guess is that Mark went so far as say that Jesus had to speak in Aramaic because it would have been the language that the little girl could understand. and i’m guessing that this would have had a negative effect if Jesus spoke aramaic. im saying this in the inspiration of what bartholomew commented. remember mark 3? when Jesus was actually charged of being demon possessed. the talmud gives us a hint (to be continued on next…

  10. if word came out that Jesus used aramaic words to bring people to life, the accusation that was charged on to Jesus back in Mark 3 of doing things by beelzebub’s power would have damaged His reputation which was, and apparently is still being attacked today as we see in bartholomews comment. thats why mark 5 ends with Jesus making sure that no news of this miracle would spread. the girl probably only understood aramaic and thus Jesus spoke in aramaic to wake her up.

  11. anyways. just wanted to thank bartholomews comment which greatly cleared up my questions about why Jesus spoke in aaramaic. its clear that based on the talmud that this was used as a means to attack Jesus. sorry for spamming 3 messages admin! but im sure you get the feeling of excitement when you finally understand a vague verse! God bless!

  12. I just want to clear the issue based on my opinion. Talitha cumi in Igbo (Ibo) Language means kuym ta’ta. We use Ta’ta (Talitha) as name of little child while kuym implies to rise or bring up someone or something. At least, they was rising either by Ta’ta getting up herself or someone else helping her to rise up or someone else carrying her up to Jesus. cumi and kuym have similar sounds. You can use cognate roots to find the meaning. Though the language is Aramaic, Ge’es (Ethiopian), if place side by side can be used to explain those words, likewise, using Igbo Language. However if the language is heavenly, let’s leave it at that.

  13. So the Lord has been speaking to me a great deal about equality between men and women ( 2 halves of a whole) according to original design.
    God wastes nothing and as you get to know him he layers everything with multiple meanings and those different meanings can be seen deeper and richer across time and space/situation.
    He commanded the girl to arise.
    Breaking the curse of Eve in Him and through Him.
    Restoring original design. Praise Him!

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