Talitha Cumi

Question from a Site Viewer
Tim, I’ve been searching for the meaning of “talitha cumi.” In looking into the original language in E-Sword it seems to me that there is an connection with “dew” and “fresh.” Maybe it’s referring to the resurrection! Also I see a connection with the third day. Christ is certainly telling us in advance of His resurrection. Your thoughts?

Tim’s Answer
I am not sure what source within E-Sword gave you the impression that the words “talitha cumi” were connected to “dew,” “fresh,” or “third day.” If you have downloaded the ISBE module on E-Sword, you will see that the words “talitha cumi” are an Aramaic phrase. The phrase consists of two Aramaic words, the first of which is the common word for “little girl” and the second, which is the word meaning “arise.” We have written an article on this. These are not some secret words that are endued with hidden meaning. These are plain, ordinary, common words of the Aramaic language. Aramaic was the language of Babylon, and was in common usage in the land of Palestine during the time of Christ. In fact, when Jesus met Peter, Jesus gave Peter the Aramiac name “Cephas” (John 1:42). On the cross, Jesus quotes from Psalm 22:1 using Aramaic (Matthew 27:46). Aramaic is a language closely associated with Hebrew; somewhat like the relationship between Spanish and Portuguese. But it is a distinct language from Hebrew.

I know that these facts go counter to some teachings in some churches. Some see these words as heavenly language endowed with special meaning. Those who are native speakers of Aramaic would laugh at them. It would be akin to someone from England saying that the word “gracias” is a heavenly language because the word is not common to English. But the word is common in Spanish and used every day. Simply because the words “talitha cumi” are not common words to us does not mean that they were not common to those who spoke Aramaic. These were simple, ordinary words with ordinary meanings.

And lest there be any doubt of what the true spiritual meaning of the words are, Scripture tells us. The full Spirit meaning of the words are . . . “little girl, I say to you ‘arise.'” (Mark 5:41) We know this because the Spirit has translated the words for us on the pages of Scripture. The Spirit is the author of Scripture (Matthew 22:43; Acts 28:25; 2 Peter 1:20-21). When the Spirit translates the words for us, we can count it as true that this is the full Spirit meaning of the words. Thus, unlike other places in Scripture where we may be uncertain of the full meaning of a word or phrase, here Scripture expressly provides the meaning to us. The Spirit says nothing about dew, fresh, or the third day. Certainly, it is a word dealing with resurrection, as the girl was brought back to life. But given that the Spirit has already translated it for us, there is no other meaning to be sought, lest we come up with a meaning contrary to what the Spirit has expressly stated.

Of course, once we understand the meaning of the words themselves, then we are left to ask the question “Why did Jesus use these words?” Here we can speculate that perhaps the family was Aramaic speaking. But for me the bigger answer is that Jesus speaks right to who we are and what our need is. He did not say “Child of Abraham, come back to life.” He did not say “daughter, be of good peace.” This was a little girl who had died. So, Jesus spoke to a little girl on behalf of her parents to bring her back to life. This is the way Jesus comes to us. He does not come to us in a heavenly language or pompous words that we have difficulty understanding and that can be learned only through wise gurus who profess some untestable knowledge about such matters. Rather, He comes to us in the ordinary vernacular of life, speaks to us in our language about our needs, and calls us to arise and live life. Jesus wants to make it easy for us to read and know His will, and to discover Him throughout the pages of Scripture. Those who seek hidden meanings often miss the plain meaning of what He wanted to say. I thank God that He has revealed Himself through simple words. It offers me a hope of seeing Him on the pages of Scripture.

I trust this helps,

a pilgrim,


Related Content:
Talitha Cumi – A Heavenly Language?

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